Three special honorees were recognized at the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce annual gala in May at the 1863 Club at Saratoga Race Course.
Representatives from area businesses and nonprofit organizations attended the gala, which this year was a newly reimagined event replacing the former annual dinner. The new trackside venue offered guests the chance to experience one of the New York Racing Association’s newer luxury facilities, located at the clubhouse turn of the race course.
Honored were 2023 Joseph Dalton Community Service Award recipient Dr. Bill Long, 2023 Impact Sector Volunteer of the Year Richard Ferguson and the Chamber’s immediate past chair of the board Tara Anne Pleat of Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC.
The gala also serves as a networking opportunity for event goers.
“Beyond the celebration and recognition of Tara, Bill, and Rich for their tremendous volunteer efforts, this gala is meant to be a powerful and productive networking event for the organizations who sponsored and the individuals who attended,” Chamber President Todd Shimkus said. “This is one of the Chamber’s signature events and an important fundraiser for our organization, so I want to thank NYRA, Mazzone Hospitality, our sponsors, and attendees for continuing to support the work we do to help our members and the community to succeed, grow, and thrive.”
Long, one of the original founders of CAPTAIN Community Human Services and a significant force in the creation of what is now The Prevention Council of Saratoga County, was formally presented with the Joseph Dalton Community Service Award. “It’s a privilege to have the honor of representing a whole team of volunteers that are doing good things,” he said.
Ferguson, who in addition to his professional role at Glens Falls National Bank & Trust Co. & Saratoga National Bank & Trust Co., has served with numerous local organizations over the past 30 years.
“Every single person here tonight understands what a great community that we live in, and we’re blessed to be in it,” Ferguson said after the ceremony. “One of the reasons why it’s so great is the myriad of not-for-profits and community organizations and municipal organizations that work behind the scenes making this place better.”
Pleat was presented with the traditional gift of a lawn jockey, painted with the logo for Leadership Saratoga, a Chamber-sponsored program dedicated to the development of leaders who will serve their communities today and in the future. Bringing the program back after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic was a major goal for Pleat in her role as chairperson.
“I think that program really creates a lot of strength in our not-for-profit organizations. Better board members, better boards,” she said. “It was important to us to get it back, especially at a time when our nonprofits need good, active, strong leaders.”
Since 1918, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has been opening doors and closing deals for businesses throughout the Saratoga County community. Guided by a strong and sustainable vision, the Chamber leads the way in maintaining and strengthening a healthy business climate, initiating constructive community action, and creating a community where all can thrive.