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CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce announced the four recipients of its prestigious Shining Stars Awards, to be recognized at the chamber’s annual gala event at the Castle of Knights on Friday, March 3 from 6 to 10:30 p.m.

McKinstry Market Garden Inc. will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. McKinstry has been selling fresh produce from its multi-generation farmland in Chicopee since 1908 when Willard McKinstry started his business from a market wagon. Now the business is run by grandson Willard McKinstry, his wife Nicole, and their two sons Will and Warren, with produce grown across farmland in Chicopee, Granby, and Hadley. In 2021, the McKinstry family opened a new farm store where their legacy roadside stand had been, reinvigorating the ability to provide their fresh-picked daily produce and more to Chicopee.

Judith Corridan Danek will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year. Danek is the director at the Office of the President and Government Relations at Health New England. She’s lived most of her life in Chicopee, developing rich connections throughout the region. She has previously served as president of the Chicopee St. Patrick’s Day Committee and chairperson of the Colleen Ball. Some of her other volunteer activities include work with Mercy Medical Center, Springfield Museums, and animal-welfare advocacy.

Mim Zayas of Masis Staffing will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber Volunteer of the Year. Zayas has been an active part of the chamber since Masis Staffing (formerly United Personnel) became a member in 2005. She became a member of the board of directors in 2017, joined the executive committee in 2019, and became chair in 2021. She’s been an active member of the Shining Stars event committee for years and has been generous with her time throughout her tenure with the chamber.

Holyoke Community College will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber Nonprofit Organization of the Year. HCC has come a long way since 1946 when it was city-sponsored Holyoke Junior College. Today, it is the oldest two-year college in Massachusetts with one of the largest endowments of any in the U.S. HCC serves 9,000 students, represents $216 million in economic impact for the region (including about $43 million in payroll to local employees annually), and promotes a diverse workforce on an accessible campus. Current HCC President Christina Royal began her tenure in 2017 as the first female, queer person of color to hold the position.

Award recipients are selected by a nominating committee chaired by Ernest Laflamme Jr., the first Citizen of the Year in 1985, and comprised of Carol Campbell of Chicopee Industrial Contractors, Ted Hebert of Teddy Bear Pools, City Treasurer Marie Laflamme, Michael Siddall of Siddall & Siddall P.C., and Jeffrey Sattler of Liberty Bank.

Tickets to this year’s Shining Stars event cost $65 and go on sale Thursday, Jan. 12. To purchase tickets or inquire about sponsorships, visit www.chicopeechamber.org or call the chamber office at (413) 594-2101.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce will host its second annual costume-themed Thriller 5K on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 11 a.m. A portion of the event’s proceeds benefit Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry.

The race starts and ends at Grise Funeral Home, located at 280 Springfield St. Registration opens at 10 a.m., and the race starts at 11 a.m. The 5K running route takes runners to Front Street, through Szot Park, then back to Grise via Abbey Memorial Drive and Fairview Street. A two-mile walking route will turn up Academy Street.

After the race, participants are invited to Rumbleseat Bar & Grille for an awards ceremony and after-party, which is included in the $35 race registration fee. Prizes will be awarded for fastest runners as well as best individual and group costumes.

The Thriller 5K is presented by N. Riley Construction with other sponsorship support from Holyoke Medical Center, Polish National Credit Union, Valley Opportunity Council, PeoplesBank, First American Insurance Agency, Health New England, HUB Insurance Services, Lumber Dogs, Ondrick Natural Earth, BK Hotels, and Beauty Batlles Lounge. Prizes and decorations are sponsored by Phil Beaulieu & Sons, Riley Home Realty, the Beauty Box, Roca, Slosek Insurance, Grise Funeral Home, East Commerce Solutions, Lids Live Well, Florence Bank, and Vibe Dance Studio.

The Greater Chicopee Chamber has hosted a 5K since 2015, which originally took place in June, with the last such event held in 2019. In 2021, when the chamber was looking to organize the event again, the committee decided to make it a costume-themed run in late October.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce announced Melissa Breor as its new executive director.

“It brings me great joy to return to the city where I grew up, sharing my passion and skills to continue to create new opportunities for and strengthen the Chicopee business community,” Breor said. “I have always been confident that, in whatever work I’m doing, I want to support other people thriving in what they do and create community around it.

Breor spent four years at the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. Inspired by her work there leading the launch of Hampshire County tourism platforms, she co-founded Western Mass Beer Week in 2016 to celebrate the economic impact of the region’s burgeoning local craft-beer industry. After her time at the chamber, she worked as the assistant director of Marketing and later interim director at the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center, finding new ways to connect, grow, and measure audience development. Most recently, she worked for Gateway City Arts in Holyoke as Press & Outreach coordinator, as well as in customer service at various businesses in the region.

“I can’t wait to meet you all and learn how you make our community so special and what more we can accomplish for Chicopee,” Breor added.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Julie Copoulos, executive director of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, announced that she will step down from the organization on Aug. 19.

“Since 2019, I have been supported and challenged by an adaptable and sharp board of directors, cohesive membership, and motivated municipal partners,” Copoulos said. “Together we have served the Chicopee business community in a meaningful and measurable way. I am humbled to have been in your service.”

The Greater Chicopee Chamber is actively seeking an executive director who is committed to Chicopee business and community and has a strong background in business, advocacy, and leadership, she noted. To chamber members, she added, “thank you for remaining the heartbeat of our community.”