By Andrea Raby
Mason Times staff writer
MASON—The Mason Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet on Feb. 13 to honor the people, businesses and groups that are making a difference in Mason.
The banquet was held at the Eldorado Golf Course Banquet Center. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Doug Klein said these awards recognize the people that go above and beyond to help the community.
“(The award winners) are setting an example for the people that are less inclined to give back,” Klein said. “There’s always a way to give back to the community, whether it’s through church or school. These are people that have found more than one place to help out and it’s a good example for others.”
The chamber has been recognizing those that help the community for 25 years. Klein said they have been doing the annual dinner since the first Citizen of the Year award was given out in 1987. Then in 1996, the Excellence in Education, Excellence in Business and the President’s awards were added. Special Recognition awards for organizations and individuals were added in 2002.
In fact, this year Klein received the Special Recognition award for an individual. Klein said he was nominated because last year he stepped down as the paid executive director to help reduce the Chamber’s finances. Since then, he has returned to the paid position but is working fewer hours.
Other recipients include Dart Container Company for Excellence in Business. Through the acquisition of Solo Cups Co., hundreds of new jobs will be coming to the Mason area.
Melissa Netzel of Alaiedon Elementary School was selected for the Excellence in Education award. Netzel said her principal and superintendent nominated her and she was completely surprised to learn she was receiving the award.
“I don’t think I’ve done beyond what any of my other colleagues have done. I work in a great place where we lift each other up.” Netzel said. “I think I have just been open and willing to take on challenges and opportunities that presented themselves.”
Netzel said the best thing about teaching is being present when something clicks for a child.
“I love watching their faces when something’s been so hard for so long, and now it’s easy,” Netzel said. “It’s the tiniest thing like watching reading click, that’s what makes it worth it.”
The 2012 MACC Golf Classic Committee was selected for the President’s award. The committee doubled the number of golfers at the event and raised enough money for two MACC Aggie Corner Scholarships for Community Volunteerism to be given to Mason High School graduating seniors in May 2013.
The Special Recognition award for an organization went to the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 55. The award was given in appreciation for all the group does for the community, including putting on Mason Aviation day and funding the Newberry Aviation Scholarship.
The biggest award of the night, Citizen of the Year, went to longtime Mason resident and former MSU professor Jenny Bond.
Bond has lived in Mason for 37 years while working as a professor of food, human nutrition and international studies. She said she got involved volunteering through the Mason Rotary Club. She joined this group instead of the East Lansing rotary because she wanted to create ties in the Mason community.
“I’ve done a lot of projects through the rotary, the Mason College Club and the First Presbyterian Church. It was through the church that I got involved with the CROP hunger walk,” Bond said.
The CROP is an annual event that’s held throughout the country to help combat hunger around the world. The First Presbyterian Church puts on this community wide effort each year. For the past three years, Bond has been gathering more funds for the CROP walk than any other individual in Mason. However, she said that she doesn’t raise money for any type of recognition; she said she does it for the joy of it.
“I enjoy volunteering because I know some of the efforts are going to where things are needed,” Bond said. “I feel very blessed in my life to wake up in a safe place, be able to take a warm shower, know that I’m not going to be attacked, and I have something to look forward to each day.”
Bond said some of her favorite events are ones that help kids, such as sponsoring scholarships that help students go to college.
Klein said that if people have the means to give back, they should. The people, organizations and businesses that received MACC awards are using their means to better the Mason community.
Bond may have summed it up best: “I am so blessed, and I believe that when much is given, much is expected.”