Northbrook Chamber honors members, volunteers
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:14AM
NORTHBROOK — Sure, the host of the party is often the toast of the party.
But to receive a crystal clear trophy as the Corporate Citizen of the Year by the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce & Industry?
“It’s a great honor,” said Rik Blyth, general manager of the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel, which received the 2013 Corporate Citizen of the Year award at the Chamber’s 58th Annual Meeting & Dinner.
While the chamber was technically the host of this annual dinner at what happens to be Blyth’s workplace (933 Skokie Blvd.), he certainly felt in his element thanking membership and hotel staff.
The Corporate Citizen of the Year is recognized for its commitment to philanthropy.
“I’ve been here one year but I know the crew has been involved in fundraisers and charity events over the years,” said Blyth, who cited a meal-packing volunteer event as one example of the hotel’s community outreach.
“Charity begins at home, I really believe that,” said Blyth.
The North Suburban YMCA (NSYMCA) in Northbrook received the Small Business of the Year Award.
Howard Schultz, NSYMCA CEO/executive director said: “This is a very exciting moment for the Y and for me, professionally.
“For us, as a non-profit to be recognized by the Chamber of Commerce is a great honor.
“In fact, only three Ys in the country out of more than 970 (YMCA entities) have ever been honored by their chambers of commerce,” said Schultz, who is largely credited with turning the NSYMCA around from mortgage meltdown and financial ruin.
A literal mortgage (document) burning set at the Y’s Techny Rd. parking lot is a YouTube video sensation, or at least on the NSYMCA website (www.nsymca.org).
When asked if the success of the NSYMCA was a pinnacle of his career, Schultz said: “It is the most significant accomplishment I’ve ever had in my professional life.”
Trudy Welker, a Northbrook resident who died in Nov. 2012, was recognized as Chamber Volunteer of the Year.
Don Pollack of Evanston (also a 1976 Glenbrook North H.S. graduate) spoke in memory of his mother.
“This is a real honor for our family,” said Pollack, whose sister JoAnn Carbray stood near her brother as he addressed the audience of more than 200 people.
”My mom always talked positively about the chamber, and she just couldn’t say enough about it.
“It was really so much a part of her life,” said Pollack.
Of volunteerism: “It’s what makes our organization work, we couldn’t do it alone, we really need the support (of volunteers),” said Tensley Garris, Chamber of Commerce president.
“We’re very proud of all of our (award) recipients,” said John Martin, Chamber of Commerce board chairman.
“We’re also proud of the chamber as we have our highest record-setting membership in the history of the organization,” said Martin, citing a roster of 725 members.
The evening’s keynote speaker was Linda Darragh, executive director of Northwestern University Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative who encouraged a launching of Chicago’s entrepreneurs.
For more information, visit www.northbrookchamber.org.