Chamber chooses Hildebrand for top honor
TBO.comNEW PORT RICHEY - West Pasco Chamber of Commerce chose Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, Realtor Victoria Barley and arts patron Judith Koutsos for top honors at the 68th annual banquet Friday night.
Published: June 9, 2012
Published: June 9, 2012
Hildebrand, who is not seeking re-election this fall, received the Outstanding Public Servant Award.
The Outstanding Citizen Award went to Barley, a community activist and past president of West Pasco Board of Realtors.
Judith Koutsos earned the Eminent Pioneer Award for 42 years of service to Pasco causes.
Among groups, Chamber officials singled out Pasco Kids First for Outstanding Area Youth Organization Award.
Three area Rotary clubs shared the Outstanding Service Club honor — Holiday Rotary, Rotary Club of New Port Richey and Rotary Club of Trinity.
The choice for Outstanding Nonprofit Award was the Good Samaritan Health Clinic.
Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind won the Outstanding Community Service Award.
Other individual honors went to Eric Anderson as ambassador of the year, and Chris Dunning, principal of Paul R. Smith Middle School, for the Winner Award.
Chamber leaders praised Hildebrand's public service and volunteerism during her 41 years as a Pasco resident.
First elected in 1984, Hildebrand is serving now as the chairwoman of the Pasco County Commission for the seventh time. She decided not to run for re-election in November.
She also has led Keep Pasco Beautiful, West Pasco Historical Society, Junior Service League, PACE Center for Girls and Good Samaritan Clinic. She has served on boards of nonprofit groups including YMCA, CARES and United Way.
Along the way, she collected a number of awards, such as the Eminent Pioneer honor in 1996 and Queen Chasco in 1989.
As outstanding citizen, Board of Realtors official Barley gained recognition for work with Community Service Council of West Pasco, YMCA, Youth and Family Alternatives RAP House, Toys for Tots, Cotee River October Bike Fest, Operation Shoebox and others.
Last year Barley led a group of Realtor volunteers who built a house in Holiday in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. Barley has been a board member of the Chamber.
For the pioneer distinction, Koutsos got praise for work with All Children's Hospital Foundation, PACE Center for Girls, Good Samaritan health Clinic, North Bay Hospital and many more.
Koutsos has been a supporter of the arts since 1971. She organized a Community Choral group of 60 voices. She founded the Gateway Music Society. She arranged for concerts here by the Golden Strings Orchestra and Florida Gulf Coast Symphony.
Koutsos was part of a group that started the Richey Suncoast Theatre and was its first music director. The group saved the landmark Thomas Meehan Theater from demolition.
Others know Koutsos for the many benefits she organizes through Daughters of Penelope, such as Opa Night with the Greeks.
Among group honors, Pasco Kids First got the youth organization honor for helping some 10,000 children and 2,500 families since 1989. Executive Director Rick Hess leads the organization with 35 staff members to keep children safe from abuse or neglect.
The three Rotary clubs were cited for supplying more than 1,000 backpacks with school supplies for needy students, organizing the Chasco Fiesta boat parade and street parade, sponsoring the Holiday Street Parade and funding numerous high school scholarships, among other accomplishments.
Marty Smith represented Holiday Rotary at the banquet while Becky Bennett appeared for Trinity Rotary and Dr. Don Cable for New Port Richey Rotary.
For the outstanding nonprofit group, CEO Melissa Fahy accepted the award for the Good Samaritan clinic. The clinic provides free medical care for needy residents. The staff includes more than 80 volunteer physicians, 28 dentists, 15 registered nurses and two pharmacists.
The Chamber of Commerce singled out the Lighthouse, led by Executive Director Sylvia Perez, for community service honors. For the past 25 years, the organization has aided many residents with vision problems. The organization has 13 full-time workers and 10 part-time employees.
Lighthouse innovations include organizing a Beeping Easter Egg Hunt in March and opening the Opportunity Center in April to provide jobs for clients.