The Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce presented the 2009 Annual Banquet and Awards Luncheon at the Weslaco Business Visitor Center with over 125 business and community leaders in attendance.
Board Chairman Braulio Gonzales of Disability Networking Services handed over the gavel to incoming Chairman Spencer Bell, Holiday Inn Express. Gonzales and Bell, assisted by celebrity emcee Letty Garza, of KRGV Channel 5 News, announced this year’s award recipients:
Loli Gomez Pena
Lynn Carter - Knapp Medical Center
6th Street Market
Anabell Cardona - Valley Grande Institute of Academic Studies
Bernardine ‘Bernie’ McCaleb - Jenks Floral
Joe V. Sanchez
Loli Gomez was chosen as the Volunteer of the Year because of her countless hours she spends serving the community and the Chamber. She serves on the board of the Weslaco Museum, American Cancer Society and is a member of the Lions Club. She has just been elected by her fellow Red Coat Ambassadors as Chief Ambassador for the Chamber.
Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Lynn Carter was a founder for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life as well served on the founding board of the Aurora House. Carter has participated many times in the Texas Scholars Program which works with local 8th graders in WISD. In her job, she works with many volunteers, but has a special way of making youth and seniors feel appreciated.
6th Street Market, the 2009 Business of the Year, has successfully maintained the community-corner-store feeling that its clientele has become accustomed to over the years. The market stocks the essentials for that after work trip to the or for a weekend party for 100. This is a family business who’s principle owner, Leo Diaz, has been in the grocery business most of his life and as an entrepreneur he recently established a food product distribution business.
Chamber Director of the Year, Anabell Cardona, an entrepreneur with extensive involvement in the business community has been supportive of all the Chamber’s programs. Cardona’s strong belief in education has been paramount in her efforts to keep programs like Leadership Mid Valley and Texas Scholars successful. She is determined to keep the Chamber’s efforts in the community strong. As a non-profit organization the Chamber needs fundraising efforts to supplement the programming and Cardona chaired the First Annual Friends of the Chamber Gala & Auction with the help of several board members. The Gala was a great financial success that allows the Chamber to operate at its’ best.
This year’s Woman of the Year, Bernie McCaleb is the past president of the Literary Review Club of Weslaco, a board member of the Aurora House and former president of the Weslaco Elks Auxiliary, as well as past president of the South Texas Florist Association. McCaleb is a Weslaco Chamber Red Coat Ambassador and is currently the First Vice President of the Weslaco Lions Club. She is the proud owner and operator of Jenks Florists in Weslaco.
Joe V. Sanchez, Man of the year for 2009, a product of Weslaco and former Mayor, grew up in a migrant family in Weslaco’s and realized that education was the answer to getting out of the fields and into a better life. After he graduated from Weslaco High School, he went on to college and kept going until he received his Master’s Degree. He returned to his roots and served over thirty years in the Weslaco, Hidalgo, and Progreso Independent School Districts as teacher, administrator and superintendent.
With support from the city, he helped grow the Mid-Valley Campus of South Texas College, providing an opportunity for over 6,000 area students to attend college right here in Weslaco.
Throughout his long career, he saved photographs and tidbits of information for the books he would write when he retired from his service to the city. VIPs of the Barrio No. 1 features some of the legendary characters he knew while growing up. He continues to write as time allows, and his second book nears completion.
The Awards Selection Committee for Outstanding Citizen award and the Man or Woman of the Year is composed of former award recipients. For additional information contact the Weslaco Chamber at (956) 968-2102.