This article was written by BenitoLink intern Eden De Alba
The San Benito County Chamber of Commerce announced the local Man, Woman, and Businesses of the Year were honored at its 101st Annual Awards dinner Nov. 12 at Léal Vineyard’s Olea.
The honorees were chosen based on how they served the community and the spirit with which they work.
“I am super excited,” said Chamber CEO Michelle Leonard. “Everyone is so deserving of their rewards and I can’t wait to honor them. I am very happy that I get to engage with all of these people and businesses all throughout the years.”
“We are a better community because of them and their impacts,” she added.
Honorees said they were proud to be recognized for their hard work.
Woman of the Year: Marilyn Ferreira
A longtime resident, Ferreira is best known for her work at Intero Real Estate and is the owner of the Ferreira-Kunz group. She has participated in many organizations such as the Hollister Downtown Association and was the first female member of the Rotary Club of Hollister.
“I want to inspire women so they can do anything they set their minds to,” said Ferreira in a previous BenitoLink interview.
Man of the Year: George Nava
Nava is a retired veteran known for working with Hollister’s Veterans of Foreign Wars. He helps to support veterans, join community events, and helps to run the Veterans Memorial Building. He said he strives to keep everyone aware of the importance of veterans.
The honorees for businesses of the year were selected by the Chamber based on their customer service and response to the pandemic.
Large Business of the Year: Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital
CEO Steven Hannah said he was pleased to see the nearly 700 employees and 100 independent physicians acknowledged for their impact on the physical and economic health of San Benito County.
“I am thrilled to have our workforce recognized for the vital services they provide for our community,” said Hannah.
BenitoLink spoke with Hannah months before it was announced he was terminated Oct. 14.
Small Business of the Year: Running Rooster
The Hollister restaurant temporarily closed during the pandemic, but by building an outside patio, they continued to serve the community.
“We’ve been here since 2003 and we continue to grow today. It means a lot to be recognized for our hard work and dedication,” said General Manager and chef Lance Ramhurst.
Green Business of the Year: Fireclay Tile
Content Manager Kali Gibson attributed the company’s success to the entire Fireclay Tile team.
“Since we started making tile in 1986, we’ve worked to find the most sustainable ways to manufacture our products and run our business and couldn’t be prouder to be recognized and honored by our county for this work,” Gibson said.
Agriculture Business of the Year: C&N Tractors
Sales representative Rick Montag said being honored gives the company a sense of accomplishment because they have worked hard to serve the ag and farm businesses in Hollister and surrounding areas.
“This award confirms that we are adding value and doing the right thing,” Montag said.
Entrepreneur Business of the Year: AG Entertainment
AG Entertainment provides services for events such as photo booths, 360 booths, DJ services, officiant services and concession services.
Owner Brian Scott Goldberg said being recognized was a blessing.
“We put so many hours into our company and it means so much to us to be voted by the Chamber of Commerce and receive this honor”
Service Business of the Year: JRG Attorneys at Law
Managing partner Paul Rovella said they are proud of the legal work they do for their clients in San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. He added they are also just as proud of the impact they’ve had within the community.
“Accolades like Service Business of the Year are definitely great—everyone likes to get recognized for their hard work and we appreciate the recognition from the San Benito County Chamber,” Rovella said. “But I’d be lying if I didn’t say we’re equally proud of the rose bushes in front of the Emmaus House facility we planted with Leadership San Benito or the good work being done on the Riverview Park by one of the organizations we helped incorporate and obtain tax exemption.”
Nonprofit of the Year: R.E.A.C.H.
According to its website, Recreation Exercise Adventure Community Health (REACH) was established in 2012 by residents to promote a healthy community through parks, facilities and recreation programs in the county. It adds that it partners with private and public agencies to fundraise and seek grants to expand accessibility to programs and services.
“After more than eight years of hard work developing R.E.A.C.H. San Benito Parks Foundation, our six-member board of directors is definitely deserving of being recognized,” board member Valerie Egland said. “The honor makes us all very proud of ourselves and confirms that others feel we’ve done a worthy job of advocating for San Benito County Parks, Paths and Trails.”
The BenitoLink Internship Program is a paid, skill-building program that prepares local youth for a professional career. This program is supported by Monterey Peninsula Foundation AT&T Golf Tour, United Way, Taylor Farms and the Emma Bowen Foundation.