Chamber awards more than business as usual
The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce awards this year recognized not only business achievements, but community involvement.
The annual awards bash, dance and dinner was held Saturday, May 12 at the Samoset Resort, drawing more than 430 attendees.
We were especially pleased to see recognition given to Jim Gamage Jr. and the "Miles of Hope" program. Gamage is the owner of All Aboard Trolley and Limousine and All 4 U Staffing in Rockland. Since December 2010, his company has been providing free rides for local cancer patients to their treatments in Bath, Bangor and Portland. Currently, the program serves 17 patients going to nine different locations.
Many of those who have been blessed in this community give back by volunteering their time or donating to worthy causes. By any measuring stick, however, this effort is exceptional. It has meant a real sacrifice in time and money, resources and energy. The service it provides is desperately needed in times of soaring fuel prices, making it all the more impressive a commitment.
Not only are Gamage and those who help in this effort going to great inconvenience to help someone, they are also making an emotional investment, as long trips to needed treatments mean long talks about difficult problems.
In 2011, we talked to Gamage about this effort. He said at the time he looked forward to picking up the patients each morning. He said sometimes, the patients needed quiet time to themselves. Other times, he and the riders get into very in-depth, often personal conversations.
"They tend to have a different outlook on life," he said.
Gamage said he appreciates their courage, heart, focus and optimism.
"It's inspired me to stop and look at how I do things and how I go about raising my family," he said.
The effort also draws attention to the need in the community for transportation for cancer patients.
"It's stressful enough to go through what they are going through without worrying about how they are getting to the treatment," Gamage told us.
We hope others will be inspired by Gamage's efforts to find ways to serve others around them.
The awards to other business leaders also reflected how they have given back to the community, promoted the area to visitors and made efforts to protect the environment. We congratulate all of the award recipients.
Honoring a local hero
We were also pleased to see Jamie Leo of the Rockland Fire Department honored at the City Council meeting Monday night.
Leo is a true local hero, having worked for the department for the past 20 years. Those of us in the news business are used to seeing him working at the scenes of blazes and crashes. He's one of the many who serve quietly in the community and it was clear he wasn't seeking the recognition.
However we would be remiss in forgetting to thank him and all of the other firefighters.
It was also noted at the council meeting that a tree and memorial marker will be placed in memory of Rebecca J. Dow, who served as a friendly face in the code office for many years. She died in February from cancer.
She is missed and not forgotten.