By Marie Gilmore

ChamberlogoThe Valrico/FishHawk Chamber recently hosted its second annual dinner by celebrating with donations to two local charities and welcoming its new board for the 2015 year.

The two-year old chamber, which welcomed member 171, the Brandon Foundation, at the dinner, merged with the FishHawk Area Networking Group just 15 months ago. At the time, the Chamber had 35 members .The goal for the 2014 year was to achieve 100 members for the Chamber which welcomes business owners in the Valrico and FishHawk areas. But, by the end of the year, the Chamber was well over 150 members and to celebrate this milestone, hosted a 100 member celebration followed by the annual dinner.

The Chamber, which meets the second Tuesday and fourth Thursdays of the month for General Membership and evening networking meetings, also hosts two seat specific Power Hour networking meetings weekly. Guests are welcome to any General Membership breakfast meeting held the second Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. at River Hills Country Club.

At the dinner, recognition for the 2014 board and a welcome for the incoming board was followed by the president’s remarks and an introduction to the President’s Choice charity of the year.

For 2014, President Bridget Jenkins Wilson selected Honor Flight of West Central Florida as the Charity of Choice. Throughout the year, donations were collected to benefit the charity and more than $900 was donated. For 2015, Wilson, who will hold the president’s position for a second year, announced Meals on Wheels of Brandon as the Charity of Choice and all donations from the evening’s silent auction were donated to the charity. Jim McNeil, representing Meals on Wheels, accepted a donation of more than $1,650 and couldn’t be happier.

“This donation will help us expand our program,” said McNeil. “We currently feed a hot meal to more than 300 seniors per weekday and most of the time, a visit from the driver is the only interaction they will get in a day. We just can’t thank the Chamber enough for choosing us for its charity”

Wilson is proud of what the Valrico/FishHawk Chamber has achieved in the last year.

“I am very proud of this Chamber,” she said. “We have achieved our membership goals and are making an impact on the community with our events and our meetings.”

Chamber Chairman and Organization Founder Michael Holmes presented the 2014 Chairman’s award to Bruce Wawrzyniak for his efforts in the formation of the Chamber’s success.

For 2015, the Chamber board consists of Wilson –Cardinal Roofing and Solar Tech, Melissa Haskins–Edward Jones, Erin Medearis – Medearis & Severe, Marie Gilmore-Osprey Observer, Carol Weathersbee—CMC Office Solutions, Joe Svehla-Get The Facts Home Inspection, Michael Severe-Medearis & Severe, Daisy Vega-Freedom To Walk Foundation and Michelle Hernandez-Romero Insurance.

The Valrico/FishHawk Chamber will also host the annual Back to School Festival held in July at the Campo YMCA.

For more information on Chamber, visit www.valricofishhawk.org. Membership is $150 for the year.

Visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/ospreyobserver/sets/72157650758498280/ to view photos from the event.