SEMINOLE – For nearly 50 years, the Seminole Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mr./Ms. Seminole award has honored those with a lifetime commitment to giving back to the community.
Now, current Mr. Seminole, Gene Stern, media chair for the Rotary Club of Seminole Lake, hopes to cast a wider net during the award’s nomination process, as the chamber searches for the 2014 honoree.
Since the first Mr. Seminole award was presented to Jesse Johnson, a pioneer of the city, in 1965, the chamber has dedicated itself to annually honoring significant contributors to the community. However, Stern said, those honored typically have belonged to the chamber or one of the other major organizations in Seminole, namely the two Rotary Clubs and the two Kiwanis Clubs.
But Stern hopes to change all that by spreading the word about the prestigious award and encouraging nominations from a wider variety of community organizations. Specifically, he plans to personally reach out to every community-based group in Seminole – religious institutions, youth organizations, and homeowners’ associations – to encourage them to nominate one of their volunteers.
“There are potentially many individuals out there who never joined the chamber that have a great impact on the community,” he said.
Gretchen Cain, the chamber’s chief of operations, echoed the sentiment.
“There are many people out there who are worthy of (the award), she said. “If they’re not part of the chamber, we might not even know about them.”
Stern realized the award’s limited reach during the 2013 Pow Wow Parade, which he rode in as Mr. Seminole.
“While riding in the parade, a gentleman in the crowd raised this question: How did you get this title?” he said. “I realized probably half of them didn’t understand.”
The reason, he said, is because the award has never really been promoted. It’s been easy enough to reach into the ranks of the chamber’s charitable members to find a worthy honoree, he said, but it’s time to spread the word to other organizations.
“We’re excited about this,” Cain said. “We’d like more people in the community to know about this.”
Those who’d like to nominate someone for the 2014 Mr./Ms. Seminole Award can send a one-page letter describing why this individual is worthy of the award to the attention of Stern at the chamber office, 7985 113th St. N., Suite 208, Seminole, FL 33772, by Feb. 10.
Stern and a secret three-person committee comprised of past Mr./Ms. Seminole winners will select the winner by mid-February. The winner will be kept secret until it’s announced at a March 1 banquet at Holiday Inn Harbourside in Indian Rocks Beach. Other awards, including Boss of the Year and Business of the year, will be presented the same day.
This also will be the first time in five years that the chamber will separate its installation ceremony and honors banquet. The two events were merged in 2009 due to economic reasons.
“We did not want the installation part to take away from this prestigious event,” Cain said.
The chamber will hold its installation ceremony, where it will install its 2014 Board, during a luncheon on Thursday, Dec. 19, 11:30 a.m., at Banquet Masters, 8100 Park Blvd.
Reservations are required. Cost is $20 per person.
Call the chamber at 392-3245 for more information.