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Athena award winner works tirelessly to help others
As this year's recipient of the Athena International Award, Chandra Olague has built a reputation as the “Trash Lady” of the community, a term of respect and affection for a woman who personifies customer service and gives freely of herself to help others as she strives to set a good example for her three daughters.
The award was one of several presented during the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce's annual awards and installation dinner held Friday evening.
A sales representative for Republic Services/Allied Waste, Olague has logged an impressive professional resume, performing successfully at a level that has placed her in the top 1 percent of all sales reps for the Fortune 100 Company. She has performed at this level while covering more than 200 miles of territory in Yuma and Imperial counties.
“Through her community involvement she has built relationships that have made her successful,” her nomination stated. “For Chandra, this is not simply a transaction where she quickly forgets about her customer and moves on to the next prospect, but rather a relationship that can be depended on. ... Her customers can call her anytime, any day and get a response. She truly defines the meaning of service because she sincerely cares about her customers.”
In addition to being a top sales representative, she also “gets involved in everything,” her nomination stated. She coordinates such work events as monthly safety barbecues, holiday parties, Secret Santa and food and clothing drives.
She does all this and more while supporting six children, including non-stop participation in community events. She serves as team manager for her daughters' soccer team, secretary for the American Business Women's Association, chairs the chamber's Ambassadors, is a Rotarian, and is actively involved with Amberly's Place, Crossroads Mission and Foothills Greater Helping Hands. When she learned a fellow employee's son had been diagnosed with brain cancer, Olague organized a fundraising dinner to help the family.
Clutching her award, Olague was overwhelmed at being selected for the honor.
Meanwhile, William and Judy Gresser, owners of Papa San Rice Bowl, were all smiles after being presented with the chamber's Small Business Award.
The award recognizes the men and women who, through their independent entrepreneurial spirit, play a vital role building the community and its economy, explained Ken Rosevear, chamber executive director. The Gressers were selected for the honor because they've been able to remain profitable through the current recession, they have a loyal clientele and they contribute so much to the community.
Representatives of Arizona Public Service Co. were jubilant at the business' selection as the Chamber Member of the Year. The recipient is selected from the 12 monthly members of the month honorees for the year, Rosevear explained.
“APS stood out because of everything they do to better the community,” he said. “APS does a good job all year.”
And the utility “did a remarkable job” in responding to a major power outage in the Foothills, Rosevear noted. APS brought in crews from around the state that worked around the clock for days to restore power to thousands of customers after a severe storm in September took out 65 power poles.
Detective Eric Frost, who has been with the Yuma County Sheriff's Office since being hired in 2003 as a detention officer, was presented the annual Officer of the Year Award. In 2005, he was promoted to patrol deputy after completing the Central Arizona Regional Law Officers Training Academy. In 2008, he was promoted to detective and has since been placed as lead detective for YCSO and specializes in major crimes/homicides. Frost also works with troubled youths as a member of the Community Justice Board.
In other business, Dan Fauth was introduced as the 2013 chairman of the chamber's board of directors.
He then installed board members that include chair elect Dr. Larry Gould, secretary Debbie Mansheim, treasurer Shirley Epke, past chair Pat Walz and members Jeff Kammann (Caballeros de Yuma el presidente), Tom Pancrazi, Tom Tolman, Matt Molenar, Dr. D. Craig Barrows, Ed Shippen and Derek Ruckman.
Outgoing board member Fred Earle was recognized for his years of service from 2008 to 2012.