The Kent County Chamber of Commerce presented four businesses and nonprofits and one individual with Community Excellence Awards for their outstanding contributions to the community during the past year through service and leadership. The awardees were The Kitchen at the Imperial, Main Street Chestertown, Minary’s Dream Alliance, and Rebuilding Together Kent County. The Person of the Year award was presented to Dr. Gerard S. O’Connor.
“The Chamber is extremely pleased to recognize these four businesses and nonprofits and Dr. O’Connor,” says Bryan Matthews, President of Kent County Chamber of Commerce. “Their commitment to the community makes Kent County the special place that it is.”
The Kitchen at the Imperial was recognized with a Community Excellence Award for their many outstanding contributions to the community—especially feeding the hospital staff during the onset of COVID-19. When the pandemic hit and many were forced to work from home or seek unemployment benefits, our hospital staff diligently reported to work to care for the ill. With few customers to serve, owner and chef Steve Quigg reached out to the hospital and offered to cook and deliver meals for the night shift at the hospital. One meal even included fresh oysters after the Kent Chamber connected Steve with Scott Budden, owner and operator of Orchard Point Oysters. This is just one example of how The Kitchen reinforced the principles it abides by—being a community restaurant.
Main Street Chestertown was recognized for launching four initiatives aimed directly at supporting the shops, merchants, and restaurants being impacted by the pandemic and resulting distribution to customers. The initiatives included launching an online portal for residents and customers to purchase gift certificates from local businesses, creating and posting signage encouraging social distancing, assisting restaurants with setting up street dining outdoors, and building rolling planters to demarcate outdoor dining space and beautify downtown Chestertown.
Minary’s Dream Alliance was recognized for several programs that brought joy and much needed support to several populations in Kent County. From ensuring young children having the ability to enjoy an Easter egg hunt during COVID-19 to preparing meals for first responders, the impact of MDA’s programs was far reaching. Minary’s Dream Alliance’s most notable contribution was rallying an entire community to deliver 200 bags of groceries each week to homebound seniors during the height of the pandemic.
Rebuilding Together Kent County was recognized with a Community Excellence Award for the way they touched the lives of many here in Kent County. Rebuilding Together provides critical home repairs to those in need and the organization helped Kent County neighbors by replacing roofs, installing handicap accessible ramps, and providing other repairs that allowed Kent County residents to remain in their homes. These repairs also allowed the residents to maintain equity in their home. Because the equity in one’s home is often the only source of wealth for many, the work Rebuilding Together Kent County does also has the added benefit of preserving housing equity in our community.
The Person of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Gerard (Jerry) S. O’Connor for his outstanding contributions to the Kent County Community for the past 38 years. Dr. O’Connor dedicated his medical career to serving the surgical needs of Kent County residents. In addition to being a medical professional, Dr. O’Connor was extremely active in the community, serving with several community organizations including the Lions Club. Recently, he is most recognized for his dedicated efforts in launching a grassroots movement—Save Our Hospital—to preserve inpatient care at the Chestertown Medical Center. This movement was instrumental in paving the way for the Chestertown Medical Center being designated a Maryland Rural Hospital.
About the Kent County Chamber of Commerce
With more than 300 member businesses, nonprofits, and individuals, the Chamber is Kent County’s premier business-to-business facilitator. Through our many unique programs, events, and advocacy, we provide a platform for leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors to engage with each other to grow their respective organizations for the ultimate benefit of Kent County and its residents.