Although the Holly Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual community awards always recognize outstanding service, this year’s recipients demonstrate a singular commitment to a wide swath of the community.
The Chamber announced the 2015 Community Awards recipients this week, naming Sam and Tena Alvarado as Family of the Year, Linda Smith as Individual of the Year, the Holly Moose Lodge #1168 as Organization of the Year, and “Zanie Janie’s” Simply Coffee as Business of the Year.
Andrea Silvis, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the award winners were crystal clear this year.
“We had a lot of diverse submissions, which really speaks to the great people and groups we have here in Holly,” she said, “but this year’s winners were really outstanding and are very deserving of their recognition.”
The awards winners will be introduced at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Downtown Holly on Friday, November 27 at 7 p.m., and at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual holiday dinner at the Holly Hotel on December 4.
Sam & Tena Alvarado – Family of the Year
Mr. & Mrs. Alvarado are extensively involved in many areas of the community, volunteering in the schools and numerous civic organizations. Mr. Alvarado, a Vietnam Veteran, is the Post Commander of Hulet-Bravender Post 5587, Veterans of Foreign Wars, a position he took over upon the retirement of long-time Post Commander and community scion Don Winglemire.
Since taking over as leader of the VFW, Mr. Alvarado has rallied the members to be more involved in the community and has secured a great deal of funding for renovations and upgrades to the VFW hall on Airport Road. Personally, he is very active in volunteering to help veterans in the area have a voice locally and state-wide, and serves as an advocate for veterans who may be going through the court system.
Mrs. Alvarado is an active volunteer for children in the area after retiring as a middle-school teacher in Hartland Schools for many years. She is the president of the Holly Area Youth Assistance and is tireless in her efforts to raise funds and awareness for disadvantaged youth in the area. She also serves on the board of the Holly Area Community Coalition.
“Is there anywhere in Holly that you don’t see Sam or Tena helping out and representing their organizations?” said Mrs. Silvis. “They are everywhere, always lending a hand.”
Mr. & Mrs Alvarado were also instrumental in the project to bring recognition to the Village of Holly as a Purple Heart Village, recognizing those veterans, living and dead, who were wounded or killed in combat. A monument to Purple Heart recipients was recently place in Downtown Holly as a result of their leadership.
Linda Smith – Individual of the Year
While most leaders are seen out in front of the pack, Linda Smith is most commonly found behind the scenes, working to bring people together or quietly volunteering her time and energy to improving the community.
Mrs. Smith is the President of the Holly Historical Society and manages the Hadley House Historical Museum on South Saginaw St., helping to promote the community’s long and rich history and keeping the stories of Holly and its people alive.
“Linda is the kind of person who shows up at 6 a.m. to weed flower beds at the community center because it needs to be done and she doesn’t want any attention for doing it,” said Mrs. Silvis. “You never have to ask her for help twice, because she usually has it done before you can even ask.”
Mrs. Smith is also an avid volunteer with the Holly Dickens Festival, and many other events and programs around Holly.
Holly Moose Lodge No. 1168 – Organization of the Year
With a membership roll of more than 500 members, the Holly Moose Lodge has been consistently recognized as one of the top Moose organizations in the State of Michigan for the past several years, mainly due to their regular support of wide-ranging community programs.
In the past year alone, the Moose Lodge has been the lead sponsor for the flower arrangements that beautify the historic downtown district in partnership with Main Street Holly, and was also a cornerstone partner in Holly’s Sesquicentennial celebrations in September. The lodge has also provided extensive financial support to various projects like Holly’s Independence Day fireworks, the VFW’s Purple Heart monument, and many other events.
Zanie Janie’s Simply Coffee – Business of the Year
Jane Slagell believes in putting that “little extra” into everything she does. That’s why Simply Coffee is a destination for coffee lovers in Holly, whether they need a little recharge during their store visits or just a bright smile and warm welcome to start the day.
Simply Coffee takes the corner coffee-shop one step further, with Mrs. Slagell roasting her own coffee beans fresh in small batches every day, and filling historic Battle Alley with inviting and enticing aromas. Her selections come from the best beans from every corner of the world, and her business has steadily grown from being a local favorite to being distributed in area markets.
Mrs. Slagell is also an energetic supporter of the Dickens Festival and many downtown events, and can always be found cheering on passing parades or the racers in the Run Like the Dickens races.
“Zanie Janie’s received an overwhelming amount of votes,” said Mrs. Silvis. “She never fails to open her doors and invite anyone in that needs a place to warm up or some space for a meeting. There are a million reasons why Jane deserves this award, but it comes down to that she’s just awesome.”