On Thursday, January 26th, 2023, we held our 68th Annual Membership Meeting & Awards Banquet at the Swainsboro Golf & Country Club. During the meeting, the STAR Students and Teachers for Emanuel County Institute (ECI), Swainsboro High School (SHS), and David Emanuel Academy (DEA) were recognized. Congratulations to Karly Olliff and Frank Wimberly from ECI, Manuel Fernandez and Joseph O'Neal from SHS, and Peyton Free and Donna Campbell from DEA. Announcement of the county system winners was made during the banquet. Congratulations to ECI's Karly Olliff and Frank Wimberly, Emanuel County system STAR Student and Teacher.
Business of the Year was awarded to Leannas, a cafe in downtown Swainsboro offering breakfast, coffee, pizza, cheesecake, and more. Leannas was opened in July 2020 by owners Levi and Arianna Stoltzfus. The husband and wife team and their six children relocated to Kite, Georgia after 20-plus years in the wholesale bakery business. They didn’t expect the amazing support and dedication of the locals here and the warm hometown feeling that the people of Swainsboro have shown. At Leannas, their mission is offering a slice of hope to the community. Being able to serve good food at a fair value is just an added bonus. Congratulations to Leannas for being chosen as Business of the Year!
Person of the Year was awarded to Juanita Porter for her many years of service in various capacities to this community. While she has served in more ways unseen than seen, some of her extensive service to organizations, boards, and other groups includes East Georgia State College Foundation, 4-H Volunteer Leaders, Swainsboro Primary, Elementary, Middle, and High School Parent Teacher Organizations, Troop 75 Cub Scouts, Judicial and Citizens Review Panel of Emanuel County, and the Citizen Advisory Committee. She was a Community Health Nurse at the Children and Youth Clinic at Medical College of Georgia, a case manager for Community Hospice in Vidalia, and has worked at Emanuel County Hospital for the past six years as Senior Community Care Coordinator. Most notably, she founded the Emanuel Resource Center in 2017, an amazing project to help those in need in our community. The resource center provides and distributes everything from donated items such as clothes and furniture to medical equipment and transportation to doctor's offices. There is much to be appreciated in the life and service of Ms. Porter. Congratulations to Juanita Porter for being chosen as Person of the Year!
The 2022 Leadership Emanuel graduates were recognized at the banquet and presented with certificates of completion. Congratulations to Vicki Anderson, Lisa Bertoch, Shayna Boston, Morgan Boulineau, Steven Clark, Jonathan Hampton, Scotty Hattaway, Tonya Hooks, Shannon Lawrence, Brooke Marsh, Stefanie Mason, Kayla McKenzie, Zach Proctor, Mary Radford, Harley Smith, Anna Torrance, Michala Valora, Avery Williams, and Sonya Wilson. The outgoing Chamber Board members were also recognized and presented with plaques. Board members completing their term of service were Bill Kennedy, Gail Ware, Jim Roberts, and Zac Frye. Larry Calhoun was recognized for serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors for 2021-2022.
The Chamber of Commerce would like to thank our sponsors for the event, Nordson - Corporate Sponsor, Mill Creek - Event Sponsor, Cadle Law Firm - STAR Sponsor, and Jim Roberts and Southern Traditions - Design and Decor Sponsor. We would also like to thank Heather Belle's Catering for the delicious meal and Swainsboro Golf & Country Club for the venue. And as always, a special thank-you to all who attended!