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Fownes receives Chamber award

Courtesy photo Matthew Fownes, managing partner of a group that owns three Dairy Queen locations in Blair County, received the Small Business Person of the Year award by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

A man who has been providing sweet treats for area residents was honored Friday as Small Business Person of the Year by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

Matthew Fownes, managing partner of a group that owns three Dairy Queen locations in Blair County, received the award at the chamber’s annual meeting and awards presentation, held via Zoom.

“Our honoree didn’t let COVID ruin his plans to grow his business,” said presenter Mark Condrin of First National Bank.

“I am surprised and honored to receive the Small Business Person of the Year Award,” Fownes said. “I am very appreciative. I love working in the county and owning a small business in this community.”

Virginia Helsel, founder of God’s Little Offerings received the George Award, presented to those who, through volunteerism, re-establish a sense of pride within the community while tirelessly improving our quality of life.

“I don’t do well with praise and hype, but I love helping people. There are so many families in Blair and Cambria counties who need a little help. We have a means to help them,” Helsel said.

Derek Martin, general manager of the Altoona Curve received the Donna D. Gority, Servant Leadership Award, created to recognize a person in the community who is making a difference by choosing to serve first and then lead.

“To win an award like this, I give thanks to a lot of people. I am blessed to be part of a great staff that I learn from every day. (Last year was) a terrible year for our organization. Our staff continues to motivate me to be a better person and to make our community better,” Martin said.

The Judith A. Rossi Educator of the Year Award, created to recognize people from the local education community who play vital roles in providing guidance, incentive and direction to young people, was presented to Lindsay Bumbarger, a second-grade teacher at Baker Elementary School.

“Our honoree is known as one of the most dedicated and innovative teachers in her school district. She is certainly a trailblazer and role model for other educators,” said presenter Michael DelGrosso, vice president of global sales and marketing for the DelGrosso Family of Companies.

“It has been a very challenging year for educators to say the least as well as for parents and children. It is a big honor to receive this award,” Bumbarger said.

Other award recipients included:

n Judy Juda, longtime chamber employee who recently retired, received the Athena Award, which honors women who strive toward the highest levels of professional accomplishment, provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and also assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.

n Debbie Eckenrode, owner of Farmers Insurance, Debbie Eckenrode Agency, 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.

n Chelsea Kerr Veneskey, operations manager at Kerr Kreations Floral & Gift Shoppe, received 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 — whose efforts are positively impacting the region, making it a better place for younger people to live, work, play and invest in the community.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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