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Annual Chamber Dinner a success

Jan. 30—BATESVILLE — The Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce's Annual Awards Dinner celebrated another successful group of locals at the Knights of Columbus on Thursday. Four awards were presented to one deserving organization and four worthy individuals.

"Celebrate a Night Full of Stars" was the theme for this year's awards dinner. Dinner was catered by the Knights of Columbus staff. BACC President Sonja White, Vice President Kyle Laker, Executive Director Melissa Tucker and Office Manager Erin Telles welcomed guests and kicked off the celebrations.

"Think of our Chamber as a multiplex of recognition showcasing the finest performances in business, education, volunteerism, nonprofit excellence and overall distinguished contributions," Tucker said.

An invocation was given by Pete Mack and Clarice Patterson gave a special presentation on the Dreams, Ingenuity, Creativity, Entrepreneurship (DICE) Challenge.

The first award of the evening, the Organization of the Year Award, went to So Loved Kids Clothing Closet. Presented by Batesville Schools Superintendent Paul Ketcham, Jamie Nobbe accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

"Founded in 2019, this local nonprofit embodies a spirit of compassion and community engagement," Superintendent Ketcham said. "Their mission is simple, yet profound: to make sure that every child feels so loved by the community they call home. What sets them apart is not just their mission, but the incredible impact they're had in four short years. Led entirely by volunteers, So Loved Kids Clothing Closet has become a beacon of hope for kids in foster care and those in low-income families."

The nonprofit provides a toiletry bag, gently used clothes, new socks, new shoes and new underwear. In their inaugural year, they served 397 kids. They served 710 kids in the second year and 865 in the third. This year, in a new standalone building, they've reached 1,230 local youths. They've become active with the Back to School Bash and introduced a mobile coat closet as well.

Next, Jill Hollins was presented the Educator of the Year Award by Patti Mauer. Mauer said Hollins has a clear passion for continued learning and is constantly furthering her knowledge and professional skills to be the best educator she can be. Currently pursuing a doctorate at Ball State and finalizing a STEM certification through Purdue University, Hollins runs the STEM classroom teaching grades K-8 at St. Louis Catholic School.

"Jill has accomplished much and influenced many already," Mauer said. "I know her impact on the world of education will continue because she has the heart of an educator and the drive of a natural leader. Pablo Picasso once said, 'The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.' It is easy to see that Jill has found her gift and she has most definitely given it away in many ways that have had a lasting impact on her students, her coworkers and her community."

George Junker received the Distinguished Service Award, presented by Superintendent Ketcham.

"Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, George's journey has been characterized by a commitment to excellence and an unwavering dedication to his community," Superintendent Ketcham said. "George graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1980 with a degree in accounting. ... In 1981, he relocated to Batesville, Indiana, answering the call from Bruce Rippe to join Romweber Furniture Company where his collaboration with Bruce spanned over 15 years."

Junker played a pivotal role in the development of ClearPoint Federal Bank and Trust. Since 1993, he has been instrumental in the Create Foundation, dedicated to advancing computer technology in local schools, according to Superintendent Ketcham. He's served on the Hillcrest Country Club board, Southeastern Indiana YMCA, John A Hillenbrand Foundation, Ripley County Community Foundation, Margaret Mary Health Foundation and MMH Board of Directors.

"I've been fortunate to be on community boards that had ideas, had a vision, saw a need, found the resources and made things happen and that's what helps make Batesville a better place," Junker said. "The importance of giving back, the importance of participating. ... it's our challenge to continue to motivate ourselves, to encourage others, to be involved and participate in our town's growth. I am so thankful for my decision to move to Batesville those 40 years ago."

Finally, Jim and Maureen Saner received the Volunteers of the Year Award, presented by their sons Matt, Jim Jr. and Andy Saner.

"We've all witnessed firsthand the outstanding commitment and impact they've had on the Batesville Community," Jim Jr. said.

Jim and Maureen Saner created the bingo program for St. Louis Schools which has raised millions over the past 40 years for St. Louis Schools and Parish. They are active with the free clinic, the Southeast Indiana Health Center, where they work weekly. The Saners were also instrumental in growing the Families Helping Families program which serves more than 125 families annually and provides more than 700 presents to children and nearly $20,000 in Kroger and Walmart gift cards to those families.

"Everybody that was selected [as awardees] tonight volunteers," Maureen said. "Yes, Jill has a job but she puts in endless hours outside of school. What Jamie and those women have done at So Loved Closet ... please, if you can do anything else, sometimes you have to be asked, but please don't ever hesitate. If you see a sign that says 'If you want to work, call this number,' call! Offer your services; you'll get so much out of it. ... Use your ideas, share your ideas and bring more to your community."

Contact Josie Clark at josie.clark@greensburgdailynews.com or 812-651-0873.