Guest Column: Chamber of Commerce Celebrates

Malcolm McPhail

Every year the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce receives nominations for the best Gilroy has to offer. After sorting through the nominations, eight individuals and organizations have been identified to receive the prestigious Spice of Life Awards.

Man of the Year: Malcolm McPhail. As the lead Pastor at New Hope Community Church, Malcolm constantly reminded his congregation, “The church was placed in the community for the community, not the community for the church.” As a result, Malcolm became a member of the first Gilroy Gang Task Force; developed school assembly programs; helped with the Character Counts program; started the Teacher Comeback Day which consisted of breakfast provided by the church and an encouraging pep talk provided by Malcolm. Under Malcolm’s direction, the church did various outreach programs to Gilroy’s underprivileged working families by providing groceries, haircuts, clothing, and other services. Malcolm even pioneered the Chaplaincy program for the Gilroy police and fire departments.

Woman of the Year: Sue Thurman. Sue has served in the Gilroy Sunrise Rotary; the Exchange Club; the GUSD School task force; the Memorial Day Parade Committee; The Holiday Parade Committee; the Gilroy Premium Outlets task force; Relay for Life; Leadership Gilroy; the Reading Program at Glen View School; supported Rebekah Children’s Services, assisted at the Gilroy Welcome Center and also worked with the Gilroy Foundation. Sue said, “I have loved working for the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the opportunity to get to know so many over the past 10 years.”

Large Business of the Year: Recology South Valley. Recology is an employee-owned company whose philosophy is to give back to the communities they serve. Whether it be volunteering, sponsoring events, or in-kind contributions, Recology and its employees take great pride in giving back to the community. One of Recology’s greatest achievements is the recent design and construction of their new Condensed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station. This state-of-the-art station provides cleaner, more fuel-efficient collection vehicles, which is better for the environment.

Small Business of the Year: Pintello Comedy Theater. The Pintellos have been involved in local theater more than 30 years. They began working with Gilroy Community Theater (now South Valley Civic Theatre). Pintello Comedy Theater has worked with the Gilroy Foundation, Community Solutions, St. Joseph’s Family Center, Rebekah Children’s Services, Kiwanis, Gilroy Rotary, Gilroy High School and FFA, and numerous other community groups. They have also volunteered their services to the Gilroy Garlic Festival for more than 25 years.

Nonprofit of the Year: Gilroy Elks. The mission of the Gilroy Elks is to inculcate the principles of charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity. The Gilroy Elks have done just that with the thousands of dollars they have raised for local efforts helping veterans’ groups, elementary schools and children with disabilities, to mention a few. Members of the Elks live by the motto, “Elks Care and Elks Share.”

Firman B. Voorhies Volunteer of the Year: Debbi Sanchez. Debbi has set an example of service to others. She has been on the Chamber Board of Directors for six years, has been involved in the beer operations at the Garlic Festival and participated in the Hall of Fame Committee. Debbi served as the chair for Relay for Life. She helps to raise money to donate Christmas trees to underprivileged families in Gilroy and assists with other fundraising efforts. Educator of the Year: Scott Otteson. As a teacher and now the principal at El Roble Elementary School, Scott has always worked to provide the most positive, well-rounded, fun-filled learning experiences for his students. During a time of crisis in leadership at El Roble several years ago, Scott was asked to step in and help instill confidence, stability and direction for the staff, students and parents. Six years later, the school has improved tremendously. Susan Valenta Youth Leadership Award: Rayleene Miranda. Rayleene is an inspiration to all who know her. She cares about others, volunteers and goes above and beyond what is expected. Rayleene enjoys the social aspect of helping others and the feeling she gets from volunteering with disabled people and at Solorsano Middle School as a math tutor.  

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