Chamber hosts annual awards dinner
WINSLOW TWP. – The Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce saluted Varga’s Bellevue Drug Company as the 2015 Business of the Year and awarded Bob Schenk with the coveted Nice Going Award last Tuesday, May 19, during the annual installation and awards banquet at Villa Manor.
“To me and most people in Hammonton, it’s not just Bellevue Drug Company, it’s Varga’s Bellevue, an iconic greatly respected name in our area,” said John Runfolo, executive director of the Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce.
“Similar to all the entrepreneurs we honor, Nick was never afraid of work, and lots of it. His incredible passion for the business created possibly the best independent pharmacy in South Jersey,” continued Runfolo as he introduced Nick Varga.
Bellevue Drug Company was founded in 1950 by George and Maria Varga and is still family owned and operated today.
“After attending many of these award banquets, Bellevue Drug Company finally made it to the top,” said Varga, who worked in the business with his father, George, and now operates it with his children and grandchildren.
“Now, after 65 years, treating the fourth and fifth generations, I am most thankful and grateful to the fellow Hammontonions for their support, their trust in me, their patronage, and in many cases, their love,” said Varga.
Schenk was awarded the Nice Going Award, which recognizes an individual who has been an integral part of civic, charitable and community efforts to improve the quality of life in the Hammonton area.
“This is a person unmatched in his or her love for Hammonton, for family, a selfless person who has given time and sweat to make this a better place to live, work and play,” said Runfolo.
Schenk is president of South Jersey Laundry, a member of the Hammonton Kiwanis Club, sponsor of Little League teams, and the mastermind behind the annual Kiwanis Club of Hammonton Halloween Parade, among other accomplishments.
Schenk talked about growing up along Central Avenue surrounded by family members who were active in the Hammonton Kiwanis Club, many who served as president. Schenk’s uncle, Ralph Continisio received the inaugural Nice Going Award in 1972.
“I was surrounded by all these people,” he said. “We used to go to grandmom’s house on Peach Street and all the family talked about civic service. They all worked in Hammonton; they all made their living in Hammonton and they all did civic service in Hammonton. So, I guess it rubbed off.”
The chamber also had the rare opportunity to present the Golden Legacy Award to Universal Supply Company. The award is given to businesses that have been in operation for 50 years.
Michele Samanic of Hammonton received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“She has worked tirelessly with the chamber as volunteer ... The way that she has lived her life is an inspiration to us all as chamber members or more so just friends,” said Runfolo.
Glenn Ann Stoll, corporate director of Regional Business Development at AtlantiCare, took the reigns as president of the Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce. The 2015-2016 officers include: Carl Powell of New Jersey Manufacturers, first vice president; Benjamin Ott of Edward Jones Investments, second vice president, and Lisa Varesio of Capital Bank of New Jersey, treasurer.
All located in Hammonton, the following new businesses or businesses with new owners were recognized: 54 Fitness, 900 12th St.; Andy’s Pizza, 900 Twelfth St.; Cape Bank, 129 N. White Horse Pike; DeClement Law, 300 Bellevue Ave.; DeStefano’s Café, 442 N. Egg Harbor Road; Dynamic Learning Center, 45 Route 206; Erika's Alterations and Clothing Design, 4 S. Second St.; Ideal Blend Antiques, 483 White Horse Pike; Kitchen 19, 19 Second St.; La Mia Couture, 114 Bellevue Ave.; Lil Buddy's Bath & Boutique, 12 S. Second St.; Rodeo Robot, 15 Horton St.; Savoy Limo, 701 Wiltseys Mill Road; Schroeder Law, 2 Central Ave., Suite 3; South Jersey Skin Care & Laser Center, Augusta Professional Center, 856 S. White Horse Pike, Suite 6; Tony Soprano’s, 10 N. White Horse Pike; and Upgrade Tutoring, 9 Washington St.
Driscoll’s Blueberries, 935 Eleventh St., Tomasello Winery, 225 N. White Horse Pike, and Brother’s Pizza, 80 S. White Horse Pike, were also recognized for making major renovations and investments.