The 2019 Milton Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala held at the Granite Ridge Golf Club on Friday, April 12th was a night made to shine from the glint of cocktail glasses to the glitter of table settings to the sparkling conversations between friends and colleagues dressed to the nines.
The sold-out event was an assembly of Milton’s finest who besides enjoying the obvious tony ambiance were there to recognize members of business, community and volunteers who have contributed to Milton’s vibrant business culture as well as to highlight the influence of community members who, in achieving remarkable personal feats, have set outstanding examples for emulation.
The evening’s agenda included the celebration of Mario Durante for Lifetime achievement, David Gallinger for Citizen of the Year, and Jennifer Sibbitt for the Joyce Hagevik Volunteer of the Year.
Mario’s list of accomplishments span over 65 years starting from 1953 when he first arrived in Milton from Italy. By 1963, he had launched Durante’s Esso Station, Repair Centre and Towing on Hwy. 25 and over the years he expanded his ventures to include land developer and builder. As his business diversified and grew, he was always generous in giving back to causes he cherished including the Salvation Army, the Cancer Society and many sports teams. His accomplishments were nationally recognized in 2012 when he was bestowed with the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal.
As for being recognized for his Lifetime Achievement Award, Mario said, “I’m very happy and honoured. I never imagined it! I was a tow truck driver. I worked hard to provide for my family. That’s it.”
Mario built his life and legacy during Milton’s early years and still believes that Milton’s present and future opportunities are there for everyone. “Milton is growing so fast and it’s a beautiful place to grow a family.”
His advice to fellow Miltonians is direct and plain-spoken, “Work hard, be honest and help people if you can. And take a chance sometimes.”
David Gallinger was honoured as Citizen of the Year and admits that no one was more surprised than he when he got the phone call notifying him of the upcoming award. “Usually, answering a phone call for me means that there’s a problem that I have to deal with but this was a very welcome though unexpected call!
Giving back to his community may very well be in his DNA. David, who is the second generation owner/operator of Gallinger Ford Lincoln, learned from his father that you get what you give and building a business goes part and parcel with making your community a better place to live.
Over the years Gallinger Ford Lincoln has made significant donations to vital Milton organizations including the Milton District Hospital, Darling Home for Kids, local food drives and events such as the Coldest Night of the Year. Long term plans for David and Gallinger Ford Lincoln include more of the same well into the future.
Jennifer Sibbitt was recognized as the Joyce Hagevik Volunteer of the Year and as a business owner and mother of four children her list of volunteer participation is impressive. Destination Campbellville Community Association events including the Santa Claus Parade and Outdoor Movie Nights, Girl Guide leader, the Brookville Minor Baseball Association and Parent Council are just a few of the many organizations that have benefited from Jennifer’s volunteer and professional skills.
Jennifer has altered her vision of a work-life balance that she was pursuing when she left corporate life to start her bookkeeping/accounting business. “Now, I see it as more of a dance. I bring my kids with me when I volunteer and
I hope that they pick up on the rewards of community participation and will in turn do the same when they get older.
That’s what my parents did for me, and I’m grateful for it.”
A sense of suspense filled the remainder of the evening as winners were announced in various categories that included: Business Person of the Year, Cosimo & Maggie Lizzi, La Rose Specialty Foods & Fine Italian Bakery; Entrepreneur of the Year, Ali Zaheer, Tiltop Roofers; Business of the Year (1-10 employees) Orange Snail Brewers; Business of the Year (11-25 employees) Reebok CrossFit FirePower; and Business of the Year (26+ employees) Sovereign Fusion Inc.