Chamber’s ABC Award to Gary Von Ahsen

Chamber president calls 2016 “a year of ups and downs”

Gary Von Ahsen, retired businessman, Jefferson city council member, and one of the founding members of Habitat for Humanity of Greene County, was honored with the Above and Beyond the Call (ABC) Award by the Greene County Chamber of Commerce. The presentation was part of the Chamber’s annual meeting at the Greene Room Events Center at Wild Rose Casino. About 80 persons attended.

Dianne Blackmer and Gary Von Ahsen

Dianne Blackmer, recipient of the ABC Award a year ago, presented the award. Blackmer said that after a career during which Von Ahsen successfully balanced the roles of business man, church leader, community leader, spouse and father, in his retirement he is demonstrating how “to truly live one’s faith, volunteering in many ways to serve the community.”

Von Ahsen is a member of the Jefferson Rotary Club, Community Betterment, Greene County Development Corporation, and the Jefferson city council. He is on the council’s housing committee, street committee, and hotel/motel tax committee. He’s Habitat for Humanity’s construction committee chair and project manager and coordinates the Carpenters Club, a group of volunteers that works on smaller home repair projects.

“We are blessed to have one of the longest serving, selfless, and community-minded volunteers as this year’s recipient,” Blackmer said.

After the award was announced, Gary and Judy Von Ahsen’s oldest daughter, Amy Schroeder, stepped forward to read comments from herself and her three sisters, Sarah Vantaggio, Katie Gordon and Molly Gordon.

Sarah described her father as a person in a group of people who have discovered “that true life is not found in fulfilling one’s own dreams and desires, but in fulfilling the dreams of others. Their joy is greatest and their purpose is most fulfilled when they’re meeting the needs of others.”

Katie wrote that her father is a giving, humble man who “does his best to honor God with his life.”

Amy said the two words that best describe her father are “kind” and “humble.” She said he doesn’t try to be nice, “he just is.”

She ended her comments by playing the music video of Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” saying the lyrics could have been written by her father.

Gary Von Ahsen said he was totally surprised by the award. “I came here tonight because I appreciate what the Chamber of Commerce is doing, their reorganization and so forth, and I want to be a part of that, and here this happens (receiving the award). I don’t have words for this. I appreciate this very much and thank you for letting me be part of it,” he said.

The award recipient is selected by a committee of past recipients.

Chamber president Ora Stevens conducted the annual meeting, which included re-electing him as president and electing Vickie Woodford as vice president and Gary Jensen as treasurer.

Stevens described 2016 as “a year of ups and downs for the Chamber,” and named 20 new members and more than $40,000 in Chamber Checks purchased and redeemed as accomplishments. The Chamber organized more than 10 bus tours and more than 70 bus tours were booked by working with the tourism network in Jefferson and Greene County.

Office manager Sheilah McGregor-Pound listed the Chamber’s 2017 goals: to better serve membership; to commit to on-site visits; to review the inner structure of the board activity and make revisions where necessary; to continue to work collaboratively with other organizations on events, promotions and projects; and to coordinate and put in place a tourism team.

Jensen presented the budget for 2017 calling for $141,300 in income and $123,760 in expenses.

The only membership milestone noted was Eye Care Associates at 25 years of membership.

The Chamber is calling 2017 “a rebuilding year for the Chamber… stepping out and moving forward…”



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