Temecula Valley Chamber announces nominees for annual awards gala

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Guests toast to an evening of fun at the 54th annual Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala at Pechanga Resort Casino, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. The chamber is hoping to hold the event in-person in 2021. Valley News/Shane Gibson file photo

The nominees for the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 55th annual Awards Gala were announced, along with a floating timeline for when the gala will actually be held due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions handed down by the county and state of California, the chamber is hoping to invite all the nominees to an in-person event in May or June.

“We typically host the annual awards gala in March,” Emily Falappino, president and CEO of Temecula Valley Chamber, said. “Yes, we could maintain that schedule with a virtual event, but that just doesn’t feel right. The gala is a time and place of community celebration, inspiration, positivity and togetherness. We want to preserve that time and place to the best of our ability. Our hope is to host the event later in the year when our community health and state guidelines might give us more flexibility to host a live event. Our awards gala was the last large, live event hosted, just days before COVID-19. We hope it’s among the first events to return, post-COVID.”

The gala is a celebration of businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals who serve as leaders in community service, business ethics and economic development. In addition to the nominees listed below, awards will be given for: Ambassador of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Chairman’s Choice and Welty Tourism.

“The spirit of the awards gala is intended to recognize and applaud the achievements of our workforce and businesses, through their grit, perseverance, innovation and service,” Falappino said. “It’s important to affirm the goodness in those characteristics. It’s also inspiring and is part of what gives us community pride. We use these awards to spotlight businesses not just for merit but because of the meaning it has and how that meaning impacts our community.”

Nominated for the Bronze Business of the Year are: Barragan Corp International, Be Kekoa Apothecary, Clear Blue Promotions, Nothing Bundt Cakes – Temecula, Ranch RV & Self-Storage, Reliable Realty Inc. – Jackie Steed, Sebaz Video Productions, Tina M. Gottlieb Chiropractic, APC and Wellness Diagnostics & Medspa.

Nominated for the Sterling Business of the Year are: AppleOne Employment Services, California Bank & Trust, Fabozzi & Miller, APC, FirstLight Home Care of Temecula, Home Perfect Restoration, The Law Offices of Rosenstein & Associates, Pacific Western Bank and Promenade Temecula.

The Gold Business of the Year nominees are: Avensole Winery, Chick-Fil-A Temecula, CR&R Environmental Services, Danza del Sol Winery, Michael Baker International and Wiens Family Cellars.

Nominees for Platinum Business of the Year are: Loma Linda University Medical Center Murrieta, Milgard Manufacturing, Southern California Gas Company, Southwest Healthcare System and Wilson Creek Winery.

Charity For Charity, Dive Guardians, Old Town Rotary Club, Rotary Club of Temecula, SAFE Family Justice Centers and Temecula Education Foundation are nominated for Ruby Service/Charitable Organization of the Year.

The Emerald Service/Charitable Organization of the Year nominees are: Assistance League of Temecula Valley, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Temecula and Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center.

Krystal Aponte, Eric Bunge, Barbie Ray and Stephanie Santana are vying for the Valley Young Professional of the Year.

The Citizen of the Year nominees are: Eric Bunge, Robert Cooke, Craig Davis, Kristara-Marie Munoz, Teri Sue Parker, Barbie Ray, Jim Toth, Vickie Walker and Denyse Wilson.

“This year’s awards nominees have some unique attributes, which I think are directly related to our community’s COVID-19 challenges,” Falappino said. “For one, we have a lot of first-time nominees. Businesses who hadn’t been seen or recognized before, but who are now because of the way they’ve stepped up to serve our community in crisis. In other cases, we have nominees who are the epitome of a local small business.

“Our residents are seeing local businesses in new ways and appreciating them like never before. Also, you’ll notice our nominees are mostly independently owned and operated. These are unique brands and businesses that have been built up by the heart of an entrepreneur – something I think we all have more value and regard for in light of this past year,” she said.

For more information about the awards gala and the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, visit http://www.temecula.org or call 951-676-5090.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.