Kennedy Brothers, Women of Wisdom/Sweet Charity and Dan Brown Are 2017 Chamber Award Recipients
Also New Board of Directors is Elected for 2017-2018
Middlebury, Vermont – October 26, 2017 – The Addison County Chamber of Commerce recognized a local business, non-profit organization, and individual with awards during its annual meeting held on October 24th at Vergennes Opera House, Vergennes, Vt. Three awards were presented in front of a crowd of 70-plus attendees which included Chamber members, local business people and community members.
Kennedy Brothers, located in Vergennes, was presented with the 2017 Business of the Year Award which recognizes businesses that have grown, sometimes despite adversity, while providing excellent products or services while doing well by their employees and the community.
Bob Feuerstein and Lillian Kennedy are the owners of Kennedy Brothers. The property is still in the Kennedy family through Lillian. Formerly known as Kennedy Brothers Marketplace, the white building was a milk depot on the rail line. Lillian's ancestor built the brick building to manufacture woodware for decades. They stopped manufacturing there in the 1980s and Win Grant (whose wife is a Kennedy) converted the space to a gift, craft and antiques market which closed in 2010. Win wanted to retire and Bob and Lillian had the gumption to buy him out and re-purpose the property.
After five years of ownership and significant investment in capital improvements, the 41,000 square foot building is nearing 100 percent occupancy. The space is home to a variety of businesses such as Shacksbury Cider, the school supervisory union, cafe, two gyms, a retirement counselor, CPA, family therapists, chocolate makers, and a clock shop. There’s also a café serving coffee, tea, baked treats, and sandwiches, as well as co-working and conference space. Vergennes’ weekly Farmers’ Market is held in its parking lot.
In addition to the Business of the Year award, the Addison County Chamber presented its 2017 Buster Brush Citizen of the Year Award to Dan Brown, co-owner, Swift House Inn. Brown exemplifies the criteria for which the award is given—a history of getting things done to make the community better in a variety of ways, with no intention of personal reward or recognition.
Middlebury and Addison County are better places thanks to Dan’s many civic contributions, especially his recent work for the Charter House Coalition and Town Hall Theater. This is in addition to the challenges of running one of the town’s premier bed & breakfasts and a popular restaurant.
For last year’s massive "Charter House Challenge" project, Dan coordinated a successful effort to remove three sides of Charter House's clapboards and replace them with new siding and paint the porch and trim as well. “Long hours, unpaid, getting the best out of 40+ volunteers, for 2+ weeks, during the hot summer of 2016, for a project he believes in. Dan is close to being a logistical genius if he isn't one. He's more than a nice guy. He's a great leader,” said Steve Jewett, president, Charter House Coalition’s board of directors.
Dan’s work tor Town Hall Theater has been just as astonishing. He is a tireless board member and has been the chair of a committee that is mapping out Town Hall Theater's strategies as it heads into its second decade. He is dedicated, inspired, hard-working, and a real blessing to the theater.
Dan did all this while facing some serious medical challenges during which time he hasn't missed a meeting, hasn't slowed down or used the illness as an excuse for slacking off. If anything, he's working harder than ever for this community.
Dan’s concern for this community is extraordinary, and it translates into long hours of hard work. “Perhaps it's his years flying planes in the service of this country. Perhaps it's the unique perspective an innkeeper has when it comes to selflessly serving the needs of others. Perhaps it's just genetic: he was born a caring, dependable, community-minded guy. Whatever the cause, he is one of Middlebury's great resources,” said Doug Anderson, Executive Director, Town Hall Theater.
The Chamber’s Community Achievement Award is given to a non-profit organization that provides a significant and sustained contribution to the wellbeing of the area. This year’s award was presented to Women of Wisdom, the non-profit organization that operates Sweet Charity resale shop in Vergennes. The award was accepted by Jeannie Peluse, Meg Brash and its board of directors.
Women of Wisdom, known affectionately as WOW, was formed in 2007 by a group of civic-minded women intent on giving back to their community. They pooled their resources and set out to make a difference in the towns in which they live. They put their heads together and launched Sweet Charity, a non-profit resale shop filled with pre-loved goods for the home. Located on Vergennes’ Main Street, the proceeds from Sweet Charity fund a giving circle that uses its resources to empower women and children in need.
Fast forward ten years, Sweet Charity continually provides a revenue source for funding local philanthropic projects chosen by Women of Wisdom and for the work offered by Hospice Volunteer Services of Addison County, which helped fund the creation of the store. Recently Women of Wisdom presented Hospice Volunteer Services with a 3rd quarter funding check of $4,000. To date this year, WOW has given HVS $18,000 in much needed funds.
Annual Business Meeting
Annual meeting attendees voted on the board of directors for the 2017-2018 year. New to the board this year, serving one-year terms expiring at the 2018 annual meeting are Tim Brownell, Addison County Home Health & Hospice; Robert Feuerstein, Kennedy Brothers; Meaghan McLaughlin, National Bank of Middlebury. Other board members include:
- *Geoff Conrad, Middlebury Inn
- *Bethany Dever, Dever Accounting Services
- Don Devost, Addison Advisors
- *David Donahue, Middlebury College, Board Chairperson
- Karen Duguay, representing Better Middlebury Partnership
- *Judson Hescock, Neuse, Duprey & Putnam, P.C.
- *Hannah Manley, Homeward Bound: Addison County’s Humane Society
- *Shawn Oxford, Bristol Financial Services, Past Chair
- Renny Perry, representing Vergennes Partnership
- Bill Sayre, A. Johnson Lumber Company, representing Addison County Regional Planning Commission
- Len Schmidt, Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center
* Designates Chamber Officers
The board of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce thanks Liza Sacheli, Middlebury College Mahaney Center for the Arts, and Grover Usilton, National Bank of Middlebury, for their service to the board.
About Addison County Chamber of Commerce
The Addison County Chamber of Commerce (ACCOC) is an association of individuals representing business interests, working together to promote commercial business and tourism in Addison County.
Photo caption: From L to R: Buster Brush Citizen of the Year winner: Dan Brown and his wife, Michele Brown, owners of Swift House Inn. Sue Hoxie, president, Addison County Chamber. Community Achievement Award winner Sweet Charity/Women of Wisdom: Meg Brash and Jeannie Peluse, Sweet Charity store managers, and Liz Ryan, Mary Beth Hamilton, Julie Basol, and Liz Markowski, WOW board members. Business of the Year winner: Kennedy Brothers’ Robert Feuerstein and Lillian Kennedy. Dave Donahue, board chair, Addison County Chamber and representing Middlebury College. Photo courtesy of Addison County Chamber of Commerce