augusta free press news

SDDA hosts annual celebration, awards

The Staunton Downtown Development Association recently hosted its Annual Celebration and awarded volunteers and downtown businesses for their outstanding contributions and support for Downtown and the SDDA.

staunton downtown development associationThe meeting was held at the new Stacks Foods & Catering at 125 S. Augusta Street, owned by Peter Harrison.

The master Of ceremonies was Bob Mortensen, SDDA Board president and Design Committee chair, and members from the community were asked to present the awards based on their personal experience, relative to the recipient.

Jessica Godsie Sawyers, SDDA Board member and ambassador, recognized and thanked the SDDA ambassadors and presented the Service Award to Nancy McDaniel, who was instrumental in the creation of the new SDDA Ambassador Corps. The Service Award is given each year to an SDDA supporter who goes out of their way to assist with change making as part of the organizational work plan.

McDaniel was recruited by Mortensen, the SDDA Board president, to help administer and create the Ambassador program. She graciously gave her home to a small but mighty steering committee to design the program and recruited several members to assist in moving the program forward.

Because of those humble beginnings we now have an Ambassador program that is 15 strong and providing outreach from the SDDA to 150 businesses.

Crista Cabe, who serves on the SDDA Board and Organization Committee, presented the Volunteer or the Year Award to Len Doran for his expert training and leadership in conducting the Bright Lights on Beverley Fundraising campaign. Doran is the managing partner and CEO of the Wexford Consulting Group. Doran has more than 50 years of internationally recognized nonprofit management, consulting and fundraising experience. He has raised millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations and is a frequent speaker at local, regional, national and international fundraising conferences.

Doran has been volunteering for the SDDA as a fundraising consultant for the Bright Lights on Beverley Campaign and has served as an SDDA ambassador and on the Organization Committee for the last year. He also serves on the SDDA Board.

Doran has been instrumental in training both the SDDA director and the Board in the finer points of fund development.  He has taken many hours of his time to develop a donor strategy for the Bright Lights on Beverley Lighting Project. Doran, along with the SDDA Board and staff, have raised $14,514 towards the goal of $25,000.

Eric Stamer, owner of Eric Stamer Catering and downtown property owner, presented the Achievement Award to Justin Hershey, owner of Chicano Boy Tacos. The Achievement Award recognizes trailblazers who grow and reach goals through a consistent effort, while positively impacting those around them.  Hershey worked with Newtown Baking to create the pizza product for its dinner menu and has grown Chicano Boy Tacos from a moveable feast to the brick and mortar location on Lewis Street.  The wildly successful ethnic restaurant has brought a steady flow of customers benefitting not only Chicano Boy Tacos, but their neighboring businesses.

Janie Ballurio, SDDA Ambassador, volunteer and former owner of the Bookstack, presented the Teamwork Award to the Staunton Kiwannis Club, accepted by David Didawick. The SDDA recognizes the importance of essential partnerships with other organizations and volunteers in the community.

The SDDA has been charged by the City of Staunton with organizing the Christmas Parade. This event itself is attended by 3,000 – 4,000 people each year and is the collective work of at least 1500 volunteers from local businesses, schools, churches, clubs and non-profits. The planning begins in August with the application process and continues through the Parade day the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

The Staunton Kiwanis have marshaled the parade since 1996, and Didawick is key in the preplanning process by vetting the line-up, marking the streets for the line-up and gathering the Kiwanis club volunteers together to make sure the parade runs smoothly.

Brent Schoenduby, owner of Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse, presented the Retailer of the Year Award to his wife, Anna Schoenduby owner of Latitudes Fair Trade Store.

Each year, the SDDA awards an outstanding retailer for business innovation and community engagement. Anna was the recipient of a $12,000 BRIGHT REWIRED Business Plan Competition Award in 2015. Since then, Latitudes has become a destination business in Downtown Staunton, and Anna is a dedicated volunteer for the SDDA serving on the SDDA Board, chairing the Promotions Committee, the StauntoNites Steering Committee and hosting the Downtown Round Tables each month.  Anna is the first to embrace new programming, enthusiastically helps by engaging others and has been a true partner of the SDDA.  Most recently, Anna made the jump to double the size of Latitudes by expanding into the neighboring space.

Mortensen presented the Leadership Award to Crista Cabe. From the moment Cabe was elected to the Board, she brought a wealth of experience that has served the Organization Committee and Board agendas. From helping the SDDA tell our story, to volunteer management to fundraising, Cabe has been a strong force for goal setting, strategic planning and accomplishing our objectives.  She has been particularly instrumental on the Bright Lights on Beverley Street project fundraising effort, assisting with the brochure language, the donation web page and raising funds.

Attending the ceremony were about 40 people including the SDDA Board members and staff, Downtown business and property owners, SDDA Ambassadors, members of the city staff and City Council, family and friends. Monica Wilson, owner of Monica Wilson Photography and SDDA member, volunteered to take photographs of the event.

The SDDA staff provided the 2016-2017 Annual Report, Top 25 One-Sheet, Beverley Street Bright Lights fundraising brochure and pledge cards, and information about the Transit Sign Program.

Julie Markowitz, Executive Director of the SDDA, spoke about the year’s accomplishments inspired by the 2016 Community Perception Survey including the progress of the Brite Lights on Beverley fundraising campaign, where the SDDA Board has raised $14,514.

“While we still need to raise an additional $10,000 to complete the project, we will be using the finds already raised to install the first 22 out of 36 light caps that will direct the light downward increasing the light levels on and around Beverley Street by 50% and reducing energy costs by 60%,” said Markowitz.

Additionally, she spoke about projects for 2018, funded by the $25,000 Virginia Main Street Grant including StauntoNites – a grant competition that will inspire monthly events, the second Saturday of the month from April 2018 through March 2019 and the Urban Design Competition that will fund temporary parklets installations around Downtown.

She also described the development process for the launch of the Ambassador Corps, citing the fact that we have 15 ambassadors that will visit 150 businesses.

Markowitz recognized Bright Lights on Beverley donors, community and business supporters and sponsors, thanking them for their contributions.