Chamber honors Bee’s Wrap, Fred Kniffin and HOPE

BEE'S WRAP WAS honored as the Addison County Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Business of the Year at the annual breakfast meeting last Thursday. Chamber President Rob Carter and Emily Gaynor presented the award to Sarah Kaeck, center, owner and founder of Bee’s Wrap.

MIDDLEBURY – The Addison County Chamber of Commerce recognized a local business, individual, and non-profit organization with awards during its annual meeting held on Oct. 24, at the Middlebury Inn.
Bee’s Wrap, located in Middlebury, received the 2019 Business of the Year Award, which recognizes businesses that have grown, while providing excellent products or services while doing well by their employees and the community.
Bee’s Wrap started with a question facing many families and home cooks: How can we eliminate plastics in our kitchen in favor of a healthier, more sustainable way to store our food? 
The company creates wraps that provide a versatile and durable solution for sustainable food storage and has seen rapid growth since its inception in 2012, moving from the founder’s basement to New Haven, then Bristol, and now Exchange Street in Middlebury. 
Shawn Oxford of Bristol Financial Services presented the award to founder, Sarah Kaeck, who said she was grateful to be part of the Addison County community.
“We are honored to have our business in Addison County,” Kaeck said. “We are proud of where we live and where we work. We are proud to bring suppliers and business partners to the area.”

The 2019 Buster Brush Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Fred Kniffin of UVMHN/Porter Medical Center. Dr. Kniffin exemplifies the criteria for which the award is given — a person who has a history of getting things done to make the community better in a variety of ways, with no intention of personal reward or recognition.
Tom Manion, vice president at Porter Medical Center, introduced Dr. Kniffin, sharing the three traits he believes make the hospital’s leader worthy of this recognition: fantastic communication, discipline, and being patient/people-centered.
“Fred cares deeply about the way this community is cared for,” Manion said.
Upon receiving the Buster Brush Award, Dr. Kniffin reflected on his 29 years at Porter and in this community saying, “I have the best job in the world. My job is an award in and of itself,” emphasizing the meaningful, rewarding work and the great people he has the opportunity to work with.

The Chamber’s 2019 Community Achievement Award is given to a non-profit organization that provides a significant and sustained contribution to the wellbeing of the area. This year’s award was presented to HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects). HOPE’s mission is to improve the lives of low-income people in Addison County by working with individuals to identify and secure the resources needed to meet their basic needs. 
Meaghan McLaughlin of the National Bank of Middlebury presented the award, highlighting the organizations “quantifiable impact” this year alone: 72,000 meals served, 400 people assisted with housing/heat/work/medical needs, 581 children benefiting from the holiday program, and 993 new clients. 
McLaughlin emphasized the organization’s dynamic and flexible response to the needs of the community, giving the impressive improvements to the organization’s food shelf as an example. The award was accepted by Jeanne Montross, executive director of the organization. “The work HOPE does is only possible because of the community in which we exist,” Montross said. “You help make our work possible.”

During the annual business meeting for the chamber, new board members elected for one-year terms were Sue Ritter, Middlebury College; Deborah Wesley, Addison County Home Health and Hospice; Nancy Foster, Champlain Valley Properties; and Jeff Kozak, WhistlePig Distillery.
Other board members include:  Bethany Dever, Dever Accounting Service, Treasurer;
Karen Duguay, representing Better Middlebury Partnership; Judson Hescock, Neuse, Duprey & Putnam, P.C., Past Chair; Renny Perry, representing Vergennes Downtown Partnership; Bill Sayre, A. Johnson Lumber Company, representing Addison County Regional Planning Commission; Len Schmidt, Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center; Adam Rainville, Maple Landmark, Chair; Meaghan McLaughlin, National Bank of Middlebury, Secretary; Robert Feuerstein, Kennedy Brothers, shared board member with Addison County Economic Development Corporation; Dickie Austin, Black Sheep Bistro; Marty Kulczyk, Robert Frost Mountain Cabins.
The board thanked outgoing board member Shawn Oxford of Bristol Financial Services for his seven years of service to the Chamber and the community. Appreciation was also expressed to outgoing board members Ben Calvi of Vermont Cider Company, Courtney DeBisschop of IPJ Real Estate, Sean Flynn of Silver Maple Construction, and Tom Manion of UVM Porter Medical Service.

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