Thursday, February 1, 2018 8:00 pm
On the left, accepting the Business of the Year Award, are Holy Angels Board Chair Rob Hinman and CEO Regina Moody with Janet Sarn of sponsor Park Sterling Bank. In the center, Cathy Cloninger accepts the Harley B. Gaston Jr. Public Service Award from Shannon Thomas of sponsor Creative Solutions Special Events. On the right, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden COO Jim Hoffman and CEO Patrick Larkin receive the EPIC Award from sponsor Timothy Roberts of Cottage Keepers. (Photos by Dodie Huffman of Image Source)
Holy Angels - Cathy Cloninger - Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Business of the Year: Developing new commercial and vocational enterprises such as the Cotton Candy Factory and Bliss Gallery in Belmont and Cherubs Market in Cramerton helped earn Holy Angels recognition as the Business of the Year for 2017. Cherubs Café and Candy Bouquets are two more Holy Angels enterprises that have been operating for years. The non-profit service organization for children and adults with fragile intellectual and physical conditions also was recognized for its impact on the area economy by providing more than 300 jobs and an annual budget of more than $15 million. The Business of the Year Award is sponsored by Park Sterling Bank and was presented by Janet Sarn.
Public Service Award: The Harley B. Gaston Jr. Public Service Award is named for a founder of the Chamber who spent his life in service to the community. It was presented to Cathy Cloninger, who retired in 2017 after 34 years working to prevent incidents of domestic violence and to protect victims. She created The Shelter of Gaston County and has worked tirelessly to develop services and find funds, sometimes from her own pocket, to help female and male victims of abuse and their families. In 2016, The Shelter answered 1,080 crisis calls and provided safe housing for 165 women and 171 children. The Public Service Award is sponsored by Creative Solutions Special Events and was presented by co-owner Shannon Thomas.
EPIC Award: EPIC stands for entrepreneurial, progressive, innovative and collaborative. The spectacular Chinese Lantern Festival hosted by Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in 2017 met all of those criteria and more. The eight-week festival drew more than 100,000 visitors, with 85,000 coming from outside Gaston County, including visitors from 46 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Marketing for the festival reached coast to coast. The EPIC Award, which is sponsored by Cottage Keepers, was presented by owner Timothy Roberts in recognition of the leadership team and entire staff of the Botanical Garden for bringing the festival to Gaston County.