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Gilroy Chamber of Commerce OFFICERS


There’s an app for that!

chair of the board ERIC GEBHARDT • Hilton Garden Inn

IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING that everyone has heard the phrase, Past chair “There’s an app for that.” Well, when ERIC HOWARD • Bruce’s Tire, Inc. it comes to the Gilroy Chamber of chair of the board-ElecT Commerce, we can now emphatically DEBBI SANCHEZ • Fortino Winery say, “There’s an app for that.” We are happy to announce the activaSecretary/Treasurer tion of My Chamber App, which DAVID MATUSZAK, Ed.D. will allow the public to access all Vc OPERATIONS & DEVELOPMENT Chamber member businesses by JAN PEAT • McDonald’s of Gilroy simply downloading the app. To Vc public affairs access the app, scan the QR Code GREGG GIUSIANA • Retired Police Chief in the garlic bulb or go to Vc business programs & Services and DEBBI SANCHEZ • Fortino Winery follow the directions. Vc MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS LISA CASSARA- FARIA • Coldwell Banker

BOARD OF DIRECTORS BRIGITTE NICHOLLS • Union Bank CHAR MARRAZZO • The Dispatch LLOYD LOWREY • Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss JAY MENCHACA • Menchaca Law Offices CHERYL ELLEMBERG • ABD Promotions GINA LOPEZ • State Farm Insurance

Mark Turner • President/CEO Michelle Garcia • Administrative Assistant Chris Bevilacqua • Administrative Assistant Rosie Vogel • Administrative Assistant Sue Thurman • Business Relationship Manager

WELCOME CENTER STAFF Jane Howard • Executive Director Pam Gimenez • Office Manager


Tammy Brownlow • President/CEO Candace Van Sambeek, Administrative Assistant


EDITOR • Mark Turner, President/CEO Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

PRODUCTION & DESIGN • J. Chris Mickartz InfoPOWER Communications

PHOTOGRAPHY • Larry Mickartz InfoPOWER Communication

7471 Monterey Street • Gilroy, CA 95020 web: e-mail: phone: (408) 842-6437 Page 2

American adults have a cell phone while 67% of those cell phone users find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts or calls – even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Gartner, Inc. estimates half a billion tablets will ship in 2013 and 2014 while Amazon discovered tablet users spend 50% more than PC users. It’s safe to say that consumers are going mobile and with the average U.S. smartphone user downloading and using 32 apps, the Chamber is well positioned to provide increased benefits to its members. So, the next time you think of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, remember, there’s an app for that.


President/CEO Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

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Chamber members will benefit greatly from this opportunity. First of all, a listing for all business members is free. Upgrades are available of course, but by simply being a business member of the Chamber of Commerce, you will be automatically listed and easily accessible by potential customers. Secondly, there are many features provided through My Chamber App. There is an event calendar, Google maps for easily locating your business, push options for sending out reminders on events, open houses, and sales to name a few. Finally, as a Chamber member along with your phone number, your listing will have a link to your web site. Users can access their facebook page, twitter account and e-mail. With more and more people using mobile devices to communicate and shop, it only makes sense for the Chamber to offer this opportunity to its membership. The Pew Research Center indicates that 91% of

Corporation, Gilroy Welcome Center, Leadership Gilroy, Gilroy Downtown Business Association, GilPAC – were a direct result of Chamber members coming forward with ideas along with a willingness to put those ideas into action. Aside from the above mentioned accomplishments, the Chamber has seen other highlights which were influenced by Susan’s leadership such as the Gilroy Business Focus, the very publication you are now reading which is delivered to 10,000 homes each month. The monthly Gilroy Business Focus has been an important tool in keeping a positive connection between residents, visitors, and local business. Another accomplishment is the expansion of the Chamber footprint and a complete renovation of both sides of the building – inside and outside. The result was

a modernized facility adjacent to a large public parking area in the heart of downtown Gilroy. The Chamber demonstrated how to use the City programs to spur revitalization of the properties without tearing down the building and creating a pleasing façade on time and on budget. Thousands of people have gone through the doors of the Chamber with many of them stopping into downtown businesses to shop or eat. With so much to be proud of, Susan indicated the Chamber’s role in downtown revitalization is a highlight. As she looks back, Susan can take solace in knowing she built an organization with a sound financial footing due to the ongoing success of the Beer Concessions at the Garlic Festival and a conservative approach to financial management by each of the Chamber Boards.

Susan is the Past President of the Rotary Club; Past President of the American Association of University Women; Past Board and ex-officio Board member of the Gilroy Downtown Business Association; Gilroy Welcome Center Board, ex-officio on the Gilroy EDC; GilPAC Board; past Board member of the Western Association of Chamber Executives and Past Chair of the Santa Clara County Chamber of Commerce Coalition. Beginning July 1, 2015 Susan will become the District Governor for Rotary. If leadership is influence, then Susan Valenta has proven she is a leader and this year’s Woman of the Year.

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Fifth Street Coffee owner Yolanda Castaneda, her husband Daniel, their family, friends and the Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors helped her snip the red-ribbon and welcomed the shop to downtown Gilroy.-7501 Monterey Street. Almond Coffee to Almond Champagne-there was a beverage for everyone at the Grand Opening, Ribbon-Cutting celebration at Fifth Street Coffee on Thursday, November 21.

Shag Beauty Bar owner, Heather Pacheco, is joined by her family, co-workers and a network of friends and customers happy to welcome this business to downtown Gilroy. For your “in-between” hair-do; makeup or brow waxing stop by the Beauty Bar at 7433 Monterey Street, Suite 102.

Ntime Events owner, Sally Arruda, brought excitement to downtown with Brazilian food and entertainment at Bella Viva wine bar on November 9. The sounds of Dave Johnson coupled with exotic Brazilian Dancers, amazing authentic Brazilian Appetizers and delicious wine created an afternoon to remember! A portion of each ticket sold went to Rebekah Children’s Services. Dancers, Silvana Sousa and Dominique O’Neal pose with Sally & her husband, Patrick Morin.

Tasso’s Old House Restaurant owners, Tasso and Maria Perakis, celebrated 20 years in Gilroy with a reception and ribbon cutting. Joining them were friends and neighbors from around the community, including Mayor Don Gage. Tasso’s features American, Italian and Greek cuisine; prime rib, lobster, steaks, chops, pasta and fresh seafood daily and has been a local favorite on the corner of First Street and Hanna.

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AWARDS, continued from page 2 and she helps Leadership Gilroy with their annual Ducky Derby. As if Lisa wasn’t busy enough, this year she is also leading the first Chamber Compassion Project, an effort to collect clothing, food, toys, art supplies and toiletry items which will be distributed to organizations such as, CanTree, the Gilroy Compassion Center, Rebekahs’s Children’s Services and The Salvation Army. Lisa is a well respected, highly accomplished realtor for Coldwell Banker and one of this year’s 2014 Firman B. Voorhies Volunteers of the Year. 2014 FIRMAN B. VOORHIES VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR Kai Lai

Elizabeth Sandford, Representative of Supervisor Wasserman, presented Erin O’Brian, President & CEO of Community Solutions with a Proclamation from the Board of Supervisors on the occasion of their Open House and move to new Gilroy offices this past spring.

health services to over 800 children and adults, services to over 1,750 survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. They also provided counseling support services to over 1,300 youth and counseling services to over 650 adults transitioning from the criminal justice system. Community Solutions’ services create opportunities for children, families and individuals to re-discover hope and build new lives. Every day they witness the incredible strength of their clients as they begin new journeys of self-reliance, interdependence and safety. The programs offer support to clients and provide them the tools they need to turn their hopes into realities. For their hard work, commitment and dedication to helping people successfully overcome difficult challenges and circumstances, we are proud to name Community Solutions as the 2014 Non-Profit of the Year. 2014 FIRMAN B. VOORHIES VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR Lisa Cassara-Faria The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce awards the Firman B. Voorhies Volunteer of the Year award to individuals who give of their time and

energy to further the mission of the Chamber. The 2014 (Co) Volunteer of the Year, Lisa Cassara-Faria continually supports the organization and the community in many ways. Lisa serves on the Chamber Board and is an Ambassador and active at many of the Chamber functions. She can be found leading efforts to collect food, clothing and toys for those who are less fortunate. Lisa always has a smile on her face and her positive attitude is contagious. The need to get things done is what drives Lisa to do so much. She finds great satisfaction in helping others and seeing a necessary change made. Several of the efforts Lisa is most passionate about is CanTree, a local organization of realtors working to raise money and food donations. All that CanTree collects is distributed to South County residents. Part of the money raised by CanTree goes toward educational scholarships for local youth. If you’ve ever had a brown barrel delivered to your business around the holidays, it probably came from Lisa’s efforts. For the last 9 years, Lisa has also been involved with Habitat for Humanity raising money and even participating in 2 home building projects. Her efforts don’t end there, she assists with the Gilroy Downtown Business Association Holiday Parade

It doesn’t take rocket science to volunteer and make a difference in the community and in the lives of others, however, the 2014 Firman B. Voorhies Volunteer of the Year is in fact a rocket scientist. Kai Lai, the co-recipient of this year’s Volunteer of the Year, has been a resident of Gilroy since 1968 and worked at United Technologies Corporation as a principle engineer of the Titan propulsion system from 1984-2004. Kai has an impressive resume of volunteerism. He served on the Planning Commission from 19912001 and is a current Planning Commissioner since 2009. He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission from 20022004. He also served on the Chamber, Rotary Club, Exchange Club and Gilroy Sister Cities Boards. Kai is passionate about education. He volunteers as an instructor for the after-school program teaching science and rocketry for elementary schools. He is also a tutor for math and science at Mt. Madonna and Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA). Kai’s mother was a teacher and he was home schooled until nine years old due to the Japanese occupation in Hong Kong during WW II. Kai’s desire is to help prepare young people for the challenges of the future. When asked what brings Kai the most satisfaction about volunteering he said, “I know how teachers feel when they see that light bulb go on when a student understands. It is worth all the time, effort and work spent for that split second of seeing a student get it.”

Kai’s inspiration comes from his wife, Libby, of 46 years, his two children Kristine and Scott, and the commitment of students and the staff at the schools here in Gilroy. Kai has been presented numerous technical papers at many aerospace societies. He is an Associate Fellow at the American Institute of Aeronautic and Astronautic and one of this year’s Firman B. Voohries Volunteers of the Year. 2014 EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR Joanne Carollo Professional, integrity, kind, advocate, thorough, patient, bright… these are words that describe Joanne Carollo, the 2014 Educator of the Year. Joanne is in her 36th year in education and continues to get stronger and stronger as an educator. Joanne is a true professional and life-long learner. She has worked at Gilroy High School in the English department and served as department chair. She taught English at Mt. Madonna continuation for years, and currently serves students in the Mt. Madonna Independent Studies program. All the while, Joanne works concurrently in the evenings for the adult education program.  Joanne started the Independent Studies program at Mt. Madonna and each year they support and continue to see the most at-risk students achieve their goal of graduating from high school. Joanne individualizes each Independent Studies contract for all of her students. She works late every night making phone calls to students to motivate them to continue or to remind them of their next appointment. She meets regularly with the staff to learn about students and their needs so that she can better serve them.  She embodies the “Whatever it takes!” motto of the Mt. Madonna staff and leads by example.  30 students in 2011-2012 and 31 students in 2012-2013 graduated from the Mt. Madonna Independent Studies program. The support from Joanne made graduation possible for these students that may have otherwise dropped out. The district drop-out rate has fallen from 22% to 9.5% in a few short years. The efforts put forth by Joanne Carollo have directl y contributed to the decrease in the district drop-out rate and the increase in graduation rates. Joanne Carolla is the 2014 Educator of the Year.

Join us for the 2014 Spice of Life Awards Saturday, February 8, 2014

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Gilroy Business Focus - December | 2013 Edition  

A Publication of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce