Chamber honors top volunteers at annual community awards
June 4, 2013
By Peter Clark
In a night of honoring local volunteers, the city handed out top recognition at the 34th annual community awards. Cecilia Gambill was named Citizen of the Year and Debbie Berto was named to the Issaquah Hall of Fame.
Those awards finished out the May 30 banquet, held at the Hilton Garden Inn and sponsored by the Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber CEO Matt Bott presented the award to Gambill, co-owner of Illuminate Contracting. Bott celebrated her hours of volunteering and her enthusiasm. Gambill has been in the community for three years after moving to Issaquah from Florida.
“She’s always there with a smile and a charismatic can-do attitude,” he said when introducing her.
“It’s a real honor,” Gambill said. “Of course, I’m still acclimating to the weather.”
She said she was overjoyed to be named the Citizen of the Year and did not see the award coming. She attended the dinner just to support the chamber’s event.
“I cannot tell you how it feels,” she said after the banquet. “I did not expect it at all. I love this community. It is becoming my home.”
Debbie Berto, publisher of The Issaquah Press, was the recipient of the final award of the evening with her induction into the Hall of Fame. With her hands on her cheeks in shock, the whole room stood in applause as she accepted the honor.
“It’s amazing what you get done in 40 years,” she said upon taking the podium regarding her long service with the newspaper. “I’ve had the privilege to be with The Issaquah Press and to work with amazing colleagues throughout the years.”
She spoke about her continued relationship over the years with the city and how, despite the occasional disagreement, she felt honored to receive the designation.
“I have just been privileged in a wonderful role to help make a difference,” she said. “It’s huge to think that I will have my picture in City Hall.”
Mayor Ava Frisinger announced the annual award that is chosen by her office and the council president. In her introduction, she praised Berto for her service to the community, both professionally as well as in her volunteering capacity through organizations like the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah.
“Our criteria for this award is inspiration, service, leadership, activity and length of service,” Frisinger said. “It is always right to give people thanks for the service they give.”
Berto spoke with appreciation to the mayor, the chamber and to the community at large for the unexpected recognition.
“So many have had this award before me, and I’m so humbled by them and by this honor,” she said.