Chamber holds 77th annual Gala Jan. 20

Published 2:54 pm Sunday, January 22, 2023

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Individual and business awards were given at the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce’s 77th annual Gala on Jan. 20 at Wind Creek Casino and Hotel.

The annual event is held to recognize chamber members and trustees, and give awards to citizens and businesses that have impacted the community over the last year.

Past and current chamber presidents made remarks, the 2023 board of directors and staff were introduced and the chamber ambassadors were recognized.

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The 2023 Business of the Year is The Philanthropic Seed.

Breiah Adams presented the award.

Adams said The Philanthropic Seed has brought a little joy, light and kindness to Atmore.

“Many businesses give back to the community throughout the year, but this business is completely built around giving back to the community,” Adams said. “What started out as a young child’s dream became reality about five years ago.”

Adams said the store is a homegoods store dedicated to brightening your home and sewing seeds of kindness in Jesus’ love through monthly donations throughout our community.

The local business has donated to the Counsel on Aging for Elders, United Fund of Atmore, We are Family Home Care, Red Blue Barbecue, Shop With a Cop and the Atmore Area Christian Care Ministry, to name a few, Adams said.

“We are so grateful for this award,” Philanthropic Seed Owner Destany Morris said. “We are loved and we can do anything without you and without God.”

The 2023 Citizen of the Year award was awarded to Dale Ash.

Ashley Mosley presented the award to Ash.

“This year’s recipient is a God-fearing woman who had dedicated her life to serving God, her family, her business and her community,” Mosley said. “She is selfless and one of the most gracious people I know.”

Mosley said Ash is involved in Atmore’s National Day of Prayer, serves on numerous boards and is also an Alabama Pro Health member.

Mosley said Ash is the driving force behind Pepsi Bottling Co. of Atmore’s numerous donations and contributions to a multitude of fundraising events that have supported all civic organizations in the community and surrounding areas.

Ash is an active member of her church, and is more than willing to assist in many fundraisers that have helped Atmore become a better place to work and live, Mosley said.

With tears welling up, Ash said she appreciates the award, and said it’s all about doing what needs to be done, and doing what is asked.

The 2023 Lifetime Business of the Year Award was awarded to Coley’s Air Conditioning.

Coley’s was created in 1953, and has become a three-generation family-owned business that’s been supporting Atmore for years. The business has worked behind the scenes on many projects and has donated to countless organizations.

Coley’s has been supporting the Atmore area through employment opportunities for 70 years including one employee for 49 years and counting.

The air conditioning company has won awards throughout the years such as The Atmore Advance’s Readers Choice award and top dealer of the year.

“We appreciate this opportunity this evening,” Coley’s Owner Judd Coley said. “I just want to thank my employees, and the many achievements they’ve accomplished.”

The 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Rob Faircloth.

Faircloth’s son and daughter, Elliott and Mary Catherine presented the award.

Faircloth has called Atmore his home since 1958, the year of his birth. He has served as an active member of the chamber board of directors, United Fund Atmore, Atmore Public Library, the Escambia County Industrial Development Authority, West Escambia Utility board and the First National Bank and Trust board. He was a graduate of the first Leadership Atmore program.

He is a member of the First United Methodist Church, where he is currently Lay Leader and sings in the choir.

Through his restaurants, he has been generous with his donations and time. He is married to Sheilo.

“Atmore is my home, and Atmore’s me,” Faircloth said.

Atmore native Christian Bevere served as the Gala’s keynote speaker.

Bevere, an author who lives in Nashville, Tenn., spoke of her travels around the world, and offered some inspiration to the attentive crowd.

She talked about the wildfires in California a few years ago, and said the giant sequoya thrives in fire.

“Maybe we can learn from them (trees),” Bevere said. “Maybe like these sequoys, we can learn to grow.”

Bevere said everyone is a product of growth.

“We’re all creating a legacy,” she said.

There are three things we can do to grow the flames around us, she said.

Bevere encouraged the crowd to set negative thinking ablaze, to see past the canopy of limitations and to grow the right community.

“Who is in your pit crew,” she said. “Who are you sharing those important times with. When you don’t have the right crew, people aren’t growing the right way.

“Let’s do life well; let’s do life deep,” she said. “Be the pit crew of your community.”