Distinguished Service Awards highlight those who impact the community

Last year’s Man of the Year, Chris Breshears, best summed up the reason for the annual Lebanon Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Service Awards by describing its recipients as strands that hold the fabric of the community together.

During the DSA held on Feb. 23, Breshears first highlighted former DSA winners and nominees, reminding the community the impact they all make in the city and in the lives of many.

“Your contribution has left an incredible mark on our community, inspiring others to follow in your footsteps and make a difference,” he said.

Randy Dobson gets fitted with a sparkling jacket by Chris Breshears as Dobson accepts the Man of the Year award. Photos by Sarah Brown

Randy Dobson was selected as this year’s Man of the Year, becoming also the first recipient of what Breshears hopes will be a new tradition at the DSAs: the donning of a glittering golden jacket.

“Within the fabric of our community, there are strands of service, dedication and compassion, and in this individual we honor tonight, we find all these strands woven together to create a profound impact in selflessness of service,” Breshears said of Dobson.

He called Dobson a “true gentleman” who possesses empathy and love for his community, and a “shining example” for all as he supports the Lebanon Community School District, Lebanon Optimists Club and Willamette Valley Honor Flight.

The Woman of the Year award, presented by last year’s winner, Shyla Malloy, was given to Dr. Dana Kosmala for her “selfless dedication and unwavering commitment” to the community. Kosmala’s contributions for the well-being of children and families during the past 20-plus years included: free vaccine clinics for children, parenting talks at what is now Obria Medical Center, the formation of a Farmer’s Market program to encourage child interest in fresh produce, books for children, and the support of numerous nonprofits.

“Beyond her professional endeavors, this outstanding leader has demonstrated exceptional qualities of leadership, inspiring positivity and influencing lives with her unwavering optimism and strength,” Malloy said. “She is a beacon of resilience, a cheerleader and a pillar of support for those in need.”

Greg and Dana Kosmala pose for a snapshot at the photo booth during the Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Awards Gala on Feb. 23.

Bill Rauch was honored as Senior First Citizen for being “devoted and dedicated to the improvement of the physical health of all Lebanon residents and visitors” as he in one manner or another contributes to Build Lebanon Trails, the Healing Gardens, Lebanon Optimists Club, Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital and Western University (aka COMP-Northwest). The Junior First Citizen award was presented to Andrea Weimer for working “tirelessly” 10 months out of the year since 2011 by serving the Strawberry Festival Court.

Boulder Falls Inn (Best Western) was honored as Large Business of the Year for its commitment to giving back and “simply being a beacon of generosity,” while Hangry Solution was presented the Small Business of the Year award.

Chamber Executive Director Rebecca Grizzle called the locally-owned business “the heart and soul of the community,” known for their “giving hearts” and “commitment to never letting anyone leave hungry,” as well as their generous portions of food. Their dedication, she said, to local causes and involvement in local events makes a difference in the community and makes them “a true community leader.”

Betty Schmidt, a loan consultant at loanDepot, was awarded Business Leader of the Year. She was described as possessing an “infectious laugh” and being the “Energizer bunny of community service.” In addition to being involved in the community, Schmidt was described as a skillful lender who has “Ninja-lending mortgage skills” so families can achieve first-time home-buyer status.

Last year’s recipient of the Frankie Gray award, Mary Carter, passed the honor to Dala Johnson for “showcasing her compassion and advocacy for those in need,” as well as contributing to an array of year-round events in Lebanon.

People fill the Boulder Falls Event Center during the Chamber’s DSA on Feb. 23.

“Being described as dependable, caring and reliable shows that she’s someone our community can truly count on,” Carter said.

Umpqua Bank’s Jolene Watson presented its Non-Profit of the Year award to Crossroads Community. After sifting through what Watson described as an impressive and diverse list of nonprofits serving Lebanon, they chose Crossroads for “providing a hand up, not a hand out.”

Local nonprofit organizations presented the following awards:

◆ The Strawberry Festival Board gave its Business Sponsor of the Year Award to Safeway, an Appreciation Award to Dala Johnson and the Board Member of the Year award to Ralph Kleinschmit.

◆ The Optimist of the Year was awarded to Chris Breshears.

◆ The Lebanon Soup Kitchen awarded Elaine Fillmore for Volunteer of the Year.

◆ Dala’s Blue Angels honored Candi Cascio as Blue Angel of the Year.

◆ Holidays in the Park honored Dave Madarus.

◆ Lebanon Ambassadors awarded Jamie Eriksen.

◆ The Boys & Girls Club honored Heather McDaniels as Supporter of the Year, and awarded Vince Lopez as Volunteer of the Year.

◆ New Business Generations awarded Healthy Home Pest Control.

◆ Faith Community Network awarded its “Matthew 25:35-40 Award” to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church for its homeless outreach program.