It was a star-studded affair at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Portland Washington Square on Friday evening, April 28 — that is to say, a "Shining Star"-studded affair.
The Tigard Chamber of Commerce's 43rd Shining Stars Community Awards Celebration saw awards handed out to exceptional volunteers, outstanding businesspeople and Tigard's First Citizen, as well as $1,000 each in scholarships bestowed upon four accomplished Tigard High School students.
Elise Shearer is Tigard's 2017 First Citizen, perhaps the most prestigious of the Shining Star awards.
A founding member of the Tigard Downtown Alliance and a regular volunteer both for the City of Tigard and at St. Anthony's Catholic Church, Shearer was described as a "tireless" worker on behalf of her community who "cares deeply about the place she lives" by Debi Mollahan, chief executive officer of the Tigard Chamber.
Shearer thanked the Chamber for the honor and spoke enthusiastically of Tigard's growth, rising property values and increasing prominence as the hub of the southwest metro area of Portland.
"Let's keep our history in mind and plan the legacy that we are leaving behind," Shearer said.
Ralph Hughes was recognized as the Tigard Chamber CEO Shooting Star, an award given to someone who has had a leading role over the past year in an initiative to boost the Chamber. Hughes, who owns Financial WealthCare, has chaired the Chamber's Government Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) Committee since 2013.
"Without Ralph's consistent convening of the GAPP Committee and helping me shepherd the Chamber through local (and) state legislative issues impacting business, we would not have the level of advocacy that we currently have today within the Chamber," said Mollahan.
The "From the Heart" Volunteer of the Year this year is Sue Stephens, volunteer manager of the Just Compassion homeless shelter at the Tigard Foursquare Church. That award goes to someone who has spent many years volunteering for a specific cause.
Stephens accepted the award from Carol Herron, whom she described as her mentor and best friend.
"It's a real passion and drive, and something that is just a part of me," Stephens said of her work on behalf of the homeless. "It's just become who I am."
Named as the Tigard Chamber Volunteer of the Year for his service to the Tigard Chamber of Commerce was Dennis Johnson.
Johnson owns Center Street Gold & Silver, a joint title sponsor for the Shining Stars event for the second year running. He has only been a Chamber member since 2015, but he serves as an ambassador for the business group and is a frequent host of its weekly Good Morning Tigard networking events.
"I've really tried to help the Chamber members, you know, shine," Johnson said. "And one of the reasons why that is — I mean, I just feel good about helping people, because I think when you help people, they'll help you."
Jessica Love was named as Tigard Chamber Ambassador of the Year. Love is the owner of Love Blossomed Events and was an organizer of this year's Shining Stars gala.
The award for Tigard Chamber Business of the Year was presented to Jim Corliss, owner of Landmark Ford Lincoln.
The Tigard Youth Volunteer of the year is Adam LaFountain, president of the Tigard Youth Advisory Council, Eagle Scout and senior at Tigard High School.
Four other Tigard High seniors — Lauren Brown, Elizabeth Kerns, Cassidy Thornton and Jake Wolf — were given $1,000 scholarships from the Tigard Chamber as they prepare to head off to college.
Attendees at the event enjoyed dinner and a raffle, as well as a silent auction. The gala was emceed by Dan Murphy of the Broadway Rose Theatre Co., who was the 2016 Tigard First Citizen.
This week is National Volunteer Week, as recognized by the nonprofit group Points of Light, who promotes volunteerism across the country. The City of Tualatin held an event Monday, April 24, in appreciation of its volunteers, as did the Meals on Wheels People in Tualatin on Thursday, April 27.
The Times is a member of the Tigard Chamber of Commerce and was among the Shining Stars celebration's table sponsors.
By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times