Business, community leaders lauded at 54th chamber awards gala

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. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

More than 800 donned their finest and packed the Summit Room at Pechanga Resort Casino Saturday, Feb. 29, for the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 54th annual Awards Gala.

The evening featured dinner, a silent auction, live entertainment and the awards portion of the event, sponsored by Abbot and Pechanga Resort Casino.

Winning Bronze Business of the Year was Jimmy Fu-tography, owned and operated by Temecula-based photographer Jimmy Fu. Sterling Business of the Year went to New Day Solar, a family-owned, local solar installation company founded by Scott and Mary Carlson. Family-owned Pulido Cleaning and Restoration took home the Gold Business of the Year award.

Abbott was awarded the Platinum Business of the Year award. One of the city’s largest employers, Abbott’s Cardiovascular Care Division in Temecula is a global leader in cardiovascular care with market-leading products and an industry-leading pipeline.

In the nonprofit categories, Save the Animals Today and Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley took home the Ruby Organization of the Year and Emerald Organization of the Year Awards respectively.

Save the Animals Today has provided a place where horses who have outlived their usefulness for riding are allowed to live out their lives serving as therapy and companion animals. Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley’s mission is to facilitate the dream of homeownership as well as improve living conditions for those in the community.

Melissa Rada, program manager for Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center, works closely with community members to develop programs and services that empower and educate those affected by cancer. For her efforts, she was named Valley Young Professional of the Year.

Local historians Darell and Rebecca Farnbach of the Temecula Valley Historical Society were named Citizens of the Year. Their mission, the chamber said, “is to preserve and share the community’s history and have dedicated their time to share information and touchstones of Temecula’s past to inspire the residents of Temecula to know and honor their shared legacy.”

Pechanga Development Corporation’s Patrick Murphy was awarded the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Recipient. Murphy’s service to the Pechanga Band began in 1992 when he was elected to the tribal council and, according to the chamber, he played an instrumental role in 2003 in building a coalition and advancing legislation to distribute monies from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund to local communities that surround tribal casinos. The chamber said those efforts have resulted in more than $100 million flowing to local communities for vital public services such as police and fire protection, road improvements and afterschool programs throughout Southern California.

Lie-Ming Sie of Optimal Medical Billing and Consulting was named Ambassador of the Year. The chamber said Sie “supports the business community by attending almost every ribbon-cutting ceremony, leaps at the opportunity to volunteer in any capacity (many times behind the scenes) and supports her peers by being a loyal friend.”

The Chairman’s Choice Award went to Al Rubio, regional VIP purchase program manager of DCH Auto Group Temecula. Rubio is a member of the Rotary Club of Temecula and serves on the boards of the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club of Southwest County and Michelle’s Place, according to the chamber.

Finally, the Visit Temecula Valley Welty Tourism Professional of the Year went to Mike Rennie, owner of Temecula Valley Wine Management, which oversees Leoness Winery, Crush and Brew and Espadin restaurants, Thompson and Twain Prospecting Company and Temecula Catering.

When it was all said and done, Haute Chili Productions performed as gala attendees danced the night away.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at