Inaugural Pam Fitzpatrick Award introduced
By Terry Miller
Billed as “Denim and Diamonds,” the annual installation and awards gala for the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce was held Friday night at the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel.
The popular and well-attended event was a veritable who’s who of Monrovia movers and shakers with several notables receiving special awards. Guests included Mayor Tom Adams, Councilwoman Gloria Grudgington and Councilwoman Becky Shevlin who was accompanied by her husband Chris.
One chamber member held up a copy of Monrovia Weekly and quipped that Chris Shevlin now has a new career as a walking billboard. (Monrovia Weekly featured Becky Shevlin’s husband on page one, Jan. 16, for his unique way of helping campaign for his wife.)
On hand for the festivities was Hal Leavens who works with John Watson on many community projects, most notably the Welcome Wagon. Watson was bestowed the Service to Chamber award for his numerous volunteer efforts within the city.
The Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and incoming President Judy Schaeffler presented the group’s annual awards. Darrel G. Brooks was given the Iris Award for Citizen of the Year. He is well known in the community for the many volunteer hours he spends with local charitable organizations. He is a past president of the Monrovia Rotary Club (during his presidency the club was No. 2 in the district for donating to the Rotary Foundation). Within the last year he established a scholarship fund for construction students at Monrovia Adult School.
Brooks has long been the pro bono attorney for the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group and helped the organization with projects as diverse as negotiating and securing the Library’s bear mural from the post office, to providing funding for the new roof for the Anderson House Museum. He has also supported the arts as both a sponsor for Centre Stage and the Louise K. Taylor Performing Arts Center at Monrovia High School. For this and other philanthropic activities within the arts, he was named by the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts as its Renaissance Award recipient in 2017.
The Business Person of the Year, the Monroe Award, was presented not to an individual but to a business, 38 Degrees Alehouse and Grill. Since last May alone the restaurant has raised over $3,000 for Monrovia schools by hosting fundraising nights. They regularly donate gift cards to local charities. They have been instrumental in organizing the beer at the Monrovia Music Festival.
John Watson was recognized with the Service to the Chamber Award. He is always on hand at ribbon cuttings and attends every Chamber event when he is town. He and his wife Katie maintain their business Swing N Country and is one half of the Monrovia Welcome Wagon, greeting new residents to the community. Watson does the same for new businesses in town, reaching out to them and making them aware of the Chamber and all it can do.
The Monrovia Public Library’s Veterans Resource Center and its seven volunteers were honored with the Military Service & Stewardship Award. This dedicated group including Joseph Callahan, Jose Castillo, Michael Kaplan, Marcia Coy, Richard McCubbins, David-Paul Mikami and Candido Pinto were all trained by CalVet to assist veterans reenter the community and navigate the Veterans Administration and CalVet.
A new award was presented for the first time in honor of the late Pam Fitzpatrick, long time business person and community activist and volunteer. Fitzpatrick’s son Luke presented this new award to Diane Balsamo. The award honors individuals who advocate for building a stronger business community. Balsamo does this in so many ways. She helps organize such Old Town events ass the Wine Walk and the Fall Festival. She even goes so far as to don a bunny suit at Easter and an elf outfit for the holidays (especially Small Business Saturday). Among her other activities, she serves on the Board of Monrovia Reads, the local literacy foundation, and is a past president of Monrovia Kiwanis.