The Lindy Lynch Volunteer of the Year Wendy Chenaille with the Chamber's Matt Harrington. Photos courtesy of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber and Lorianna Weathers Photography
Vermont Business Magazine The Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce hosted their inaugural "Heart of The Shires Luncheon," in collaboration with Coggins Auto Group and Fidium Fiber at the Bennington Museum’s Ada and Paul Paresky Wing on Wednesday, November 8.
The luncheon honored exemplary nonprofits, social sector organizations, government agencies, and community leaders for their contributions to community well-being, public health, and civic service. Over 90 area nonprofit and community leaders attended the luncheon.
The Chamber called the lunch to order a little after noon and Martin Mahoney, executive director of the Bennington Museum, welcomed the attendees. Following his remarks, presenting sponsors Coggins Auto Group and Fidium Fiber addressed the crowd.
Keynote speaker Scott Finn, CEO of Vermont Public
A late change of keynote from Representative Becca Balint to exiting Vermont Public CEO Scott Finn didn’t stall the luncheon. Finn's mission is one that resonates with the community leaders at the luncheon, as he was dedicated to helping Vermont Public reach a broader and more diverse audience through the power of stories that bring people together. His extensive background in education, community organizing, and journalism uniquely positioned him to provide valuable insights into the importance of storytelling and community engagement.
Finn shared about his career journey and how it has become a testament to his dedication to public service. He began as a 6th-grade teacher, later becoming a community organizer and journalist before being selected to lead West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2013. In 2018, he took on the role of President and CEO of Vermont Public Radio, where he played a pivotal role in facilitating the merger of VPR and Vermont PBS two years later.
"We are very appreciative of Scott stepping in and giving a dynamic keynote in place of Congresswoman Balint,” remarked Matt Harrington, Executive Director of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce. “These luncheons have really become a highlight for the Chamber and our members throughout the year. It provides a time to celebrate, honor and connect with community leaders and stakeholders.”
The award-winning Pangaea provided a harvest lunch for attendees. Butternut Apple Bisque, sandwiches/Wraps including grilled Vegetable and Hummus with Sprouts, turkey Bacon Club with Pesto Aioli and Ham and Cheddar on Multigrain Croissant were on hand along with cookies, brownies, coffee, tea and apple cider.
The event culminated with the presentation of the awards. The Heart of the Shires Award was awarded to an individual who exemplifies service and leadership in the community space. This award went to Lorna Mattern, executive director of United Counseling Services.
The Community Leadership award, given to a community organization who has gone above and beyond to drive change and inspire others through their mission, vision and values, was given to Bennington County’s Habitat for Humanity.
The Lindy Lynch Volunteer of the Year Award, given to an individual who embodies the spirit of the late Lindy Lynch, a true chamber champion and volunteer, in their service and dedication to community, was awarded to Wendy Chenaille.
Harrington continued, “The Chamber created this luncheon to highlight our community leaders and nonprofits. Community leaders and nonprofits are the unsung heroes of our society, weaving a tapestry of positive change one thread at a time. They embody the very essence of service and compassion, and their collective actions create a fabric of community resilience that benefits us all. We celebrate leaders like Lorna, Wendy and Habitat for Humanity and look forward to what this industry does next!"
The Chamber would like to thank both presenting sponsors Coggins Auto Group and Fidium Fiber along with supporting sponsors including the Shires Young Professionals, Bennington Banner, GNAT-TV, CAT-TV, The Wilson House, Hoffman Real Estate, The Bank of Bennington, Vermont Public, Abuela’s Plant Boutique and Floral Design Studio, Pangaea, Iconic Awards and Graphics, VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region, and Dartmouth Health Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. The Chamber would also like to thank their gracious host, Bennington Museum.
Lorna Mattern, executive director of United Counseling Services receives the Heart of The Shires award
Cindy Luce, executive director of Bennington County's Habitat for Humanity, receives the Community Leadership award
A recording of the event will be provided by CAT-TV in the future. For more information on the event: https://www.swvtchamber.com/heartoftheshires
An advocate for businesses and nonprofits, the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce works to promote a positive economic climate by facilitating community leadership to create active and effective networks.