Blair chamber recognizes leaders, volunteers

Photo for the Mirror by Linda Stotler Award winners at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce annual meeting include (from left): Jim Kilmartin, Servant Leadership; Evelyn and John Shields, Chamber Spirit; Sherrie Ayers, Young Professional of the Year; Peggy Fields, George Award; Carol Gensimore, Athena Award; and Dr. George Zlupko, Small Business Person of the Year.

The founder of an Altoona health care provider, which stands at the forefront of pulmonary care in central Pennsylvania, was recognized Friday as Small Business Person of the Year by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. George M. Zlupko, founder of Altoona Lung Specialists and Lung Disease Center of Central Pennsylvania, was honored during the chamber’s annual meeting at The Casino at Lakemont Park.

Zlupko’s business started as one physician in 1977 and now has four physicians and a staff of 18, said presenter Mark Condrin of First National Bank.

“I was brought here (this morning) under false pretenses,” Zlupko said. “I was told my son would get an award. It’s been a pleasure serving the area. I want to continue doing that. Thank you for the award.”

The chamber presented several other awards during the event.

Peggy Fields of Altoona was named winner of the George Award for volunteerism. Fields has served as a volunteer at Fort Roberdeau for 40 years.

She has been active in developing programs for school students, including colonial period cooking and clothing programs, has sewn and used the correct techniques to create and repair period-style clothing.

“My life has been as a volunteer,” Fields said. “My husband didn’t want me to work, so I started volunteering, and it has been a full-time job for me. I hope all of you will become volunteers. It is very fulfilling.”

Jim Kilmartin of Pinnacle 7 Professional Services received the Donna D. Gority Servant Leadership Award, which recognizes people in the community who have accomplished great things while maintaining a relatively low profile.

“He is a person of accomplishment,” presenter Lisa Michelone of Reliance Bank said. “He founded Joshua House at 22 and was elected Tyrone mayor at 30. He recently started his own cleaning business and is an ordained pastor.”

“About 20 years ago, I felt called by the Lord to come back to Tyrone,” Kilmartin said. “It has been my calling to help young people find their purpose. To help young people find out who they are, that really drives me.”

John and Evelyn Shields of Altoona received the Joseph P. Rosenhamer Chamber Spirit Award, presented to someone who has shown great involvement in the chamber and has taken great strides to increase the opportunities and advancement for many local businesses.

“This is a total surprise. Where is my speech writer?” John Shields said, jokingly. “We work as a team. I tell her (Evelyn) what to do, and she tells me where to go.”

Carol Gensimore of Value Drug Co. was named winner of the Athena Award, which recognizes women for professional accomplishment, devotion to the community and assistance to other women in fulfilling leadership potential.

A new award, the Young Professional of the Year Award created to recognize a young professional in Blair County who is an outstanding figure in their workplace and community, was presented to Sherrie Ayers of P. Joseph Lehman Inc. Consulting Engineers.

For the first time the chamber presented the Century Award to five businesses who have been chamber members for 100 years.

They include Goldstein, Heslop, Steele, Clapper, Oswalt and Smith, M&T Bank, Penstan Supply, Wolf Furniture Co. and First National Bank.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.