Thursday night’s Summit Awards were a celebration of good business and a life well lived.
More than 250 chamber members and guests filled the ballroom at the Grand Marquise as local businesses waited to hear if their names would be called in one of a number of different categories. But the night’s most poignant moments came near the end of the program as the chamber honored the late Faye Gardner, who was a longtime volunteer and staff member.
Gardner died last November, but she worked right up until the last weeks of her life promoting chamber of commerce activities and helping others.
Chamber President Neal Padgett remember Gardner as a person of large influence who was willing to humble herself to serve others.
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He told the story of watching Gardner slip into a pew beside a disabled man to help serve him communion. He told another story of Gardner’s assistance to a woman who was having a hard time making ends meet, but needed diapers and food for her baby.
But mostly, Padgett and other chamber members recognized Gardner’s service to the larger community.
As a chamber board member for 10 years before joining the staff there, Gardner helped guide the chamber through a period of unprecedented growth. She also worked hard on chamber projects including the Broadway Voices, the annual business expo and even the Summit Awards program.
“Anybody Faye talked with, any project she was involved with, any problem she tried to solve ... at that moment, that person or subject was the absolute most important thing in her life,” Padgett said.
He said Gardner lived her life that way. “Faye’s life was like that. The things she chose to work on, she was passionate about. Things like the Garner Veterans Memorial, the Towne Players audience development, the quest for the All-America City title, the YMCA and Aversboro Road Baptist Church,” Padgett said.
Padgett presented the award to Gardner’s daughter, Lisa Gardner Bullard, and granddaughter, Meredith Bullard. He also announced that the award will named in Gardner’s memory.
“She will honor all those who win it and she will remain a role model for all of us,” Padgett said.
Thursday night’s presentation marked the second week in a row local organizations have named an award for Gardner. The Garner YMCA also presented its Community Impact Award to Gardner and renamed it in her honor.
While the honors for Gardner marked a celebration of a lifetime, there were plenty of other awards recognizing outstanding work and performance over the past year.
Reaching the summit
The night’s biggest business awards went to the winners of the Excellence in Business Awards, sponsored by Jones Insurance. Winning the award in the small business category was Alossi Spa. F&D Huebner/McDonald’s won the award in the large business category.
The Entreprenuerial Award, sponsored by F&D Huebner/McDonald’s, was presented to Billy Bub’s, while Autobell won the Vision and Values Award presented by Wells Fargo.
Able to Serve won the Nonprofit Achievement Award, which was sponsored by National Pawn. Lights Unlimited received the Steady Growth and Achievement Award, presented by Alco Custom Cabinets, and Guilford Plumbing started the night of awards off by winning the Forever First Award, sponsored by First Citizens Bank.
The chamber also presented a host of People’s Choice Awards chosen by a vote of the general public.
Aversboro Restaurant and Sports Bar won for Best Eats and Drinks; Sylvan Learning Center won for Best Services; and Anfesa’s Jewelers won the Best Shopping/Retail award.
Other winners included Body Wellness Massage Therapy, which won the Best Health and Wellness Award; Be Home Realty won the Best Real Estate Experience Award and the Garner Woman’s Club won the award for Best Civic Partner.
Just Dog People closed out the night of awards by winning the Best New Business Award.