Oxnard Chamber Unveils Award Recipients

Congratulations to this year’s honorees! Following deliberation by the selection committee, the Oxnard Chamber has unveiled the names of the awardees to be recognized at the 67th Annual Community & Business Awards. “We have a fabulous slate of awardees in 2017,” remarked Chamber CEO Nancy Lindholm. “It is truly amazing how blessed Oxnard is with a wealth of dedicated volunteers and outstanding people.”

Here are the 2017 awardees:

Distinguished Citizen of the Year – Marc Charney

Marc Charney is active in community business organizations. He has served as: a director and past president (1978) and is a lifetime director of the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce; a director and former president (1993-1994) and is a lifetime director of the Ventura County Economic Development Association; a director and chair of the Oxnard Economic Development Corporation; a director and former chair (2000) of the University of California at Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project, Ventura County; and a director of the California Lutheran University Center for Economic Research and Forecasting.

Mr. Charney has received recognition, including Outstanding Young Man of the Year for the Oxnard Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1978, Business Person of the Year for the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce in 1994, receiving the Ventura County Economic Development Association Carl Lowthorp Golden Eagle award for outstanding public service in 1994, 2004 and 2009, and being honored with the first Founder’s Award for the Ventura County Leadership Academy in 2011. In November of 2011, Mr. Charney was awarded the prestigious Ben E. Nordman Public Service Award.

Mr. Charney is also active in charitable organizations. He is a former officer and director of the United Way of Ventura County, El Concillio de Condado de Ventura (1986-1993), the Ventura County Division of the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society, Central county Division. He served on the 2000-2001 Grants Committee for Destino 2000, on the Food Share of Ventura County Board, and he was a founding director and is currently on the advisory committee to the Ventura County Leadership Academy. He served as Secretary to the Ben Nordman Public Service Award Fund from its inception in 1986 through 2010.  He is currently a Trustee of the Harriet H. Samuelsson Foundation.

Marc does all of this while maintaining his law practice in the area of real property transactions, land use and development, public agency and environmental law.

Mr. Charney was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the South Bay Area of Los Angeles.  He resides in Oxnard with his wife Marcia.  They have five children and eight grandchildren, scattered from Ventura County to Wisconsin and Alaska.


Woman of the Year – Marissa Vanderwyck

Marissa Vanderwyck has been in the hospitality business for more than 30 years. Prior to her current position of Director of Sales for the Courtyard by Marriott in Oxnard, she spent 12 years in the same position at the Holiday Inn Express in Port Hueneme.

One of the many reasons Marissa enjoys working for Marriott is their commitment to hospitality students under the National Academy Foundation, the Alliance for Linked Learning and other career development programs. She enjoys mentoring young students who are seeking a career in the industry.  In fact, Marissa is a member of the Ventura County Lodging Association Hospitality Education Committee.  She enjoys sharing her passion for her hotel sales career with young hospitality students and has recently spoken to classes at Rio Mesa High School and Oxnard College. 

Ms. Vanderwyck served on Oxnard Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as Vice Chair of Special Events for six years and received Volunteer of the Year award in 2003 and Board Member of the Year in 2005. Marissa also served on the Board of Directors for the Port Hueneme Chamber of Commerce for three years.

Marissa is an 18-year member of Soroptimist International of Oxnard, a global organization whose members work to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.  Marissa served as club president for two years (2009-2011) and also served as Recording Secretary and Treasurer.  She also served on several committees including fundraising, STOP human trafficking and sexual slavery. She has participated in the California Strawberry Festival, Salsa Festival, and Downtown Holiday Parade.

Marissa is a dedicated volunteer for the Live Your Dream awards dinner, which provides cash awards to women who have overcome enormous obstacles including poverty, domestic violence or substance abuse.  Recipients are women in the Oxnard community who provide the primary source of financial support for their families and may use the cash awards to offset costs associated with their efforts to attain additional education or training.

Marissa is currently the co-chair for the 4th annual Bras for A Cause event, the club’s breast cancer awareness fundraiser.  Last year the event raised over $9,000. Proceeds are used to fund comfort care kits for breast cancer surgery patients at the Cancer Center of Ventura County.  In her spare time, Marissa spends countless hours sewing the comfort care t-shirts which have been specifically designed by the club for the patients. 

Marissa’s proudest accomplishment is raising her son, Nolan, with her boyfriend of 16 years, Steve.


Man of the Year – Michael Inda

Michael Inda is a Community Branch Manager for Premier America Credit Union in Oxnard. He is responsible for the administration and efficient daily operation of a full service branch office, including operations, lending, product sales, member services, security and safety in accordance with the Credit Union objectives. Michael leads a team of sales and service professionals to meet and exceed sales goals and service targets and promotes the sales and service culture and member service standards through coaching, guidance and staff motivation.

Michael is also very active in the community where he is Secretary for his home owners association, is the Treasurer for the Oxnard Downtown Lions Club, and is an active member of the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce including serving as the 2017 Chair of the Chamber Ambassadors Committee.

At Premier America Credit Union, Michael is the Latino Market Committee Chair, a Making a Difference Committee member, and a Financial Literacy Committee member.

In addition to being a supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, Michael serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County LGBTQ Advisory Committee. He is also a team captain for Relay for Life.


Large Business of the Year – Blois Construction, Inc.

While they have been in business for more than 50 years, Blois Construction planted their roots in Oxnard over 20 years ago with its emphasis on quality of service and integrity. They have served the Oxnard area with not only jobs and quality work for the region, but multiple family members serve as board members of various water agencies.

In addition, Blois Construction has contributed whole-heatedly to the youth of Oxnard through organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs and Young Life. Jim Blois is the second generation owner and president and is committed to serving Oxnard for years to come while grooming the next generation of ownership.

Blois is a heavy civil underground contractor and has been involved in a broad range of projects – sewer, water, storm drain, concrete structures and channels, treatment facilities, pump stations, etc. – in a variety of markets – commercial, industrial, school, infrastructure and residential – in Southern California. Project sizes can vary from $100,000 to $30 million.

Jim Blois assumed control in 2003 in a buy out of his brother, Steve. Since the buy-out, Blois has experienced significant growth and has effectively transitioned as a company to deal with the associated opportunities and challenges. With an emphasis on collaboration, teamwork, communication, and learning, Blois has made great strides in further strengthening its capabilities and competitiveness over both the short and the long run in the construction industry. As part of the milestone achievement, Jim Blois stated, “We are proud of the history and tradition at Blois and look forward to many years of service to the region.”

At the heart of Blois is the quality and character of its people, and the equal respect that is given to everyone, regardless of their position in the company. Everyone at Blois takes pride in its history of successful and safe projects and its reputation as a quality provider in the marketplace – neither of these would be possible without the collaborative and professional effort of all of its employees.


Small Business of the Year – Schneiders & Associates, L.L.P.

Schneiders & Associates was established in 2012 by father and son business partners Roy and Ted Schneider. The firm is committed to the betterment of the Oxnard community by helping local businesses achieve success. The law firm’s attorneys offer their legal expertise to the community at no cost through free legal seminars and their volunteers serve on multiple nonprofit boards.

Strong advocates for education, the firm regularly provides programs for member of the business community, government agencies, and nonprofit boards.

Being a local law firm, Schneiders & Associates has strong ties to the community and relationships with many civic leaders and nonprofit organizations. Ted Schneider dedicates his time to the youth of the community by serving on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Ted also serves as the Vice Chair of the Economic Development Corporation of Oxnard, and as Vice President of the Ventura County Community Development Corporation, which is based in Oxnard.

Roy Schneider serves on the Board of Directors of Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) and the Ventura County Medical Resource Foundation, both of which benefit the Oxnard community and Oxnard businesses. Roy offers free consultations through WEV and SCORE, and provides entrepreneurs with legal advice in starting a business.

Schneiders & Associates’ attorneys are always happy to help local businesses navigate the myriad of regulations and processes required in today’s business climate.


Downtown Business of the Year – California’s Pizza & Drinks

California’s Pizza & Drinks is a very special, locally owned and operated business in Downtown Oxnard. Husband and wife owner-operators, Emilio Cortes and Joanna Sanchez, were still in their teens when they opened in 2012. But Emilio was already a veteran “pizzaiolo” starting at Domino’s at age 14 and moving up to manager when he was only 19.

They chose a historic building at the corner of 5th and C Streets overlooking Plaza Park, a spot that had seen three different pizza cafes open and close within the span of a few years. Undeterred and confident, they committed their savings and signed a lease.

Doing most of the work themselves, Emilio and Joanna completely remodeled the interior and added distinctive branded signage and outdoor seating. However, they had to wait a couple of years for a beer and wine permit because they were not of legal drinking age. Their business steadily grew through word-of-mouth on a fresh, made-to-order menu complimented with wonderful, warm customer service.

Their amazing food and service has earned near five-star rating and effusive praise on Yelp, with many reviewers saying it’s the best pizza in town.

Even at their young ages of 25 and 24 respectively, Emilio and Joanna are some of the savviest business people in Downtown Oxnard. They are incorporated as J & E Ventures. They are smart and funny marketers managing their own social media and print advertising. They are also involved members of the Downtown community, participating in countless promotions.

Nearing their five-year anniversary in business, California’s Pizza & Drinks is growing. In addition to their flagship Oxnard store, they have a second location in Ventura, employing a total of 13 team members.


Innovative Business of the Year – Acute Rehab Center at St. John’s Regional Medical Center

St. John’s Regional Medical Center has a very innovative Acute Rehab Center (ARC) led by Ms. Cindy Legge, MPT. The ARC implemented a series of measure changes to the acute rehab program that increased patients’ functional improvement by 12% from 2015 to 2016. Patients leaving the ARC were more functionally independent than in previous years. This was accomplished while at the same time decreasing the average length of patients’ stays from 14.7 in 2015 to 14.4 in 2016.

In sum, patients are getting better sooner and sent home more functionally independent. Functional improvements include eating, grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, walking, stairs, comprehension, expression, problem solving, memory, and transferring.


Service Organization of the Year – Rotary Club of Oxnard

The Rotary Club of Oxnard was established in 1920, and in its almost 100-year history has served the Oxnard community in countless ways. A few examples are:

Annually sponsored the Oxnard Youth Basketball Tournament. Established in 1948, it is the longest-running youth basketball tournament in the country. Thousands of students have learned the values of teamwork and sportsmanship by participating in the tournament.

In 1953 the Rotary Club of Oxnard co-sponsored the founding of the Oxnard Boys Club, which today is known as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. Oxnard Rotarians recently volunteered their labor at the newest clubhouse in Nyeland Acres.

In 1985-86 the Rotary Club of Oxnard assisted the Oxnard Union High School District in hosting its annual Career Fair, which continues today with a Rotary presence at the event.

Thousands of dollars in scholarships are awarded each year to graduating high school students that matriculate to a four-year college or university, and this year the Rotary Club of Oxnard is also devoting scholarship money to a graduating senior who will be attending Oxnard College.

The Club is in its 8th year of a Teacher Recognition Program where Rotarians, with the assistance of some generous corporate sponsors, present several teachers each year with a basket of gifts in honor of their hard work and devotion to their students.

Those who have joined the Oxnard Rotary Club over the years reflect the rich history of Oxnard. The roster of club members and presidents over the years is peppered with the names of those that have created the diversity of the community.


Oxnard Trophy – Boys & Girls Clubs of Great Oxnard and Port Hueneme

The Oxnard Trophy recipient is chosen by the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Oxnard Trophy is presented to a person, business or organization that has brought recognition to Oxnard and has bettered the community.

There is no question that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme has bettered the community. The organization serves more than 10,000 youth every year. They change the trajectory of lives by teaching youth about academics, healthy lifestyles and good citizenship. Club members have a 98% high school graduation rate with 93% expected to complete some type of post-secondary education.

More than 75% of the Boys & Girls Clubs members live in households that are at or below poverty. BGCOP programs are funded by community financial support. Individuals, corporations and foundations donate funds to cover program costs, enabling the club to serve more than 10,000 children at no costs to member or their families. For every dollar spent on BGCOP programs, there is a $17 return over time to the state and our communities in tax revenues, value of employment, ability of parents to work and go to school, and savings for programs that serve undereducated and underemployed residents.

The individual youth stories are numerous and heart-wrenching. The entire Oxnard and Port Hueneme communities are blessed to have such a vibrant organization crafting positive futures for our children.

These awardees will be honored at the Chamber’s 67th Annual Community and Business Awards luncheon, to be held June 8, 2017 at 11:30am at the Courtyard by Marriott Oxnard. For more information or to make a reservation for this special event, please visit our website at www.OxnardChamber.org or call the office at (805) 983-6118. Please register before June 2. Cost is $50 per person.

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