Monrovia Chamber Announces Annual Awards Recipients

Stephen Bray. – Courtesy photo
Stephen Bray. – Courtesy photo

The Monrovia Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the recipients of the annual awards for 2017.  Stephen Bray will receive the Iris Award, equivalent to Citizen of the Year. This honor recognizes his many contributions to the betterment of our community.  Steve and his wife Jennifer have lived in Monrovia for 17 years.  They have two children: Andrew, a Monrovia High School student, and Sean, who attends Mayflower Elementary.  For many of these years, Steve and Jennifer had been a typical family, working, raising their children, volunteering in their kids’ schools and being good neighbors.  But deep inside Steve’s heart was an idea nagging at him… a sort of discomfort that he felt at having the relative comforts of life while so many others were in need.

The tipping point came for Steve three years ago when a young Monrovia resident named Lajoya McCoy was murdered by her boyfriend. Steve could not get her young children out of his mind.  He was worried about their first Christmas without a mom, so he decided to create his first Facebook ‘Christmas in Monrovia’ campaign.  That year, in response to his efforts, Monrovians donated over $6,000.

Steve started a campaign to send get well cards to a fire captain who was injured while fighting a fire in Monrovia. He collected $1,283.25 within days for a family who had experienced a fire over a weekend. He arranged for a car to be donated to a woman so she could get to her new job, and donations toward gas money. He has raised money for Foothills Kitchen, the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills, a Monrovia family with a child with leukemia, and a family who lost their father to a drunk driver. He carries dollar bills in his car so he can give to anyone who asks him for money. From his own pocket, he paid for a quinceañera for a teen whose family couldn’t afford one, and bought replacement tools for a solar installer whose equipment was stolen, taking away his ability to work. The list goes on. In addition to his fundraising work, he personally helps people as well. His neighbor, Alex Zucco, stated that he helped her with sandbags in the rain, knee-deep in water, when her husband was out of town.

In Steve’s own words, he knows he can’t help everybody, but he doesn’t accept that as an excuse to help nobody.  His habit of handing out dollar bills literally changed his heart.  Steve knows he can raise money quickly, so he considers himself “on standby” for his community and his neighbors. Monrovia is so fortunate to have its very own Super-Hero, Steve Bray!

Paul Kalemkiarian. – Courtesy photo

The 2017 Monroe Award honoree is Paul Kalemkiarian, CEO/President of Wine of the Month Club.  Paul has been growing his business in Monrovia for almost 30 years. He has always been a very willing donor, and has contributed to just about every event and non-profit in town. He has provided wine and related accessories for silent and live auctions to help raise funds for worthy causes across Monrovia. Paul never asks for anything in return; he just knows how important it is to support our local groups which make Monrovia such a great place to live, work and play. Whether to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills, Monrovia Guild of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Monrovia Reads, MUSD Louise K. Taylor Performing Arts, Santa Anita Family Services, City of Monrovia, Santa Anita Family YMCA, Monrovia Kiwanis Club, Taste of Old Town, Monrovia Rotary Club, or the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce, Paul is there with his Wine of the Month Club to support and promote his community. Cheers, Paul!

Penny Arroyo. – Courtesy photo

Penny Arroyo, of the Volunteer Center of San Gabriel Valley, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Service to the Chamber Award. This recognition honors outstanding volunteer contributions to the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce. Penny and the VCSGV have been supporting the Monrovia community with programs such as shoe drives, Meals on Wheels, job shadowing, homeless counts, and preparing/taking down/cleaning up after art shows and concerts, but one of her favorites is Make a Difference Day. This community beautification project includes cleaning up parks, neighborhoods, churches and schools, and making home repairs for veterans, elderly or needy families. Through her willingness to help, persistence, encouragement and her consistently positive attitude, she is a role model for youth in our community and those that she leads within her organization. She constantly and professionally addresses and raises awareness of the importance of volunteering and helping others.  Need help?  Call Penny!

Gene Glasco. – Courtesy photo

The Military Service & Stewardship Award 2017 will be presented to Gene Glasco, a Vietnam Veteran.  Gene is the Founder of the Arcadia Vietnam War Memorial Monument located in the Arcadia County Park.  Building a monument in tribute to Arcadia’s fallen was a vision he’d had for many years, especially because of the way he and his fellow Veterans were treated upon returning home from Vietnam. In January of 2016, he shared his vision to honor those fourteen men who lost their lives with then-Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.  The County of Los Angeles subsequently endorsed his project, paving the way for Glasco to begin putting together the fundraising efforts, marketing and construction apparatus needed to realize his Monument objective.  “The Arcadia Vietnam War Monument has been built in honor of Arcadia’s sons lost in battle, but it also stands in tribute to all living Vietnam Era veterans.” Another of the Monument’s four plaques honors veterans from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and as recent as Afghanistan.  “Shine A Light On Our Veterans” is Gene’s current project: to raise enough money to install permanent night-time lighting on the veteran monument in Arcadia County Park. Thanks for your continuing service, Gene!

Please join us in honoring them on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 at the Doubletree by Hilton Monrovia 6 p.m. Social, 7 p.m. Dinner.  For tickets or information please contact the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce 626-358-1159 or email Korrine Ramirez


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