Preserving the Destin 'quality of life': Chamber awards members for supporting local businesses

Special to the Destin Log | USA TODAY NETWORK
2021 Destin Chamber Chairman Jerry Sullivan (left) of Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican congratulates the award winners, including (right to left) the Ann Gibson Community Service Award sponsored by Okaloosa Gas winner David Butler of Faith Assembly Christian Church and Mission of Compassion; the Paul Woolman Ambassador of the Year Christine Martinez; and the James D. Neilson, Sr. Chairman’s Award for Volunteer Service winner Jenni Brunson of Okaloosa Gas. Not pictured is the Business Person of the Year sponsored by Trustmark National Bank. This award will be presented at the Jan. 14 Destin Chamber Business Before Hours.

DESTIN — On Dec. 14, Destin Chamber members celebrated the holidays and the chamber’s most outstanding individuals and businesses during the annual Holiday & Awards Party presented by Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital.

Surrounded by the festive décor of Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village, 2021 Destin Chamber Chairman Jerry Sullivan of Century 21 Blue Marlin Pelican and Destin Chamber President & CEO Shane Moody led the awards presentation.

Coming soon: Party Fowl restaurant bringing legendary 'Nashville Hot Chicken' to Destin Commons

New business: Destin Selfie Museum boasts 30 backdrops to take photos, one gives illusion of defying gravity

For going above and beyond in service to the Destin Chamber and the community, Jenni Brunson of Okaloosa Gas received the James D. Neilson, Sr. Chairman’s Award for Volunteer Service.

“This year’s winner really gave great time and effort," Moody said. "When you take over programs that are only a year or two old, they take a little extra effort. She took some of our newer programs and took them to the next level.  And by next level, I mean better than any of us expected.”

For the first time, two of the chamber's annual awards were sponsored by Destin Chamber Trustee members.

Trustmark National Bank chose to sponsor the Business Person of the Year Award, "because we felt it lined up with our core values - integrity, service, accountability, relationships and solutions," said Christian Carlee, AVP and Branch II Manager.

Due to a conflict, the actual presentation of the award is being delayed until the chamber's Jan. 14 Business Before Hours at Shoreline Church.

Okaloosa Gas stresses the importance of community involvement and service, so it was a natural fit to sponsor the Ann Gibson Community Service Award. Brunson, public relations specialist for Okaloosa Gas, presented the award to David Butler of Faith Assembly Christian Church and Mission of Compassion.

“It’s always great to see someone serve the community for many, many years, doing all they can to preserve the quality of place and quality of life we enjoy. This year’s winner certainly fits that description,” Brunson said of Butler. “He volunteers and serves many organizations in the area. But better than that, he always offers an ear to someone who needs to talk, a service to someone who is in need, and he always encourages his co-workers, friends and peers to succeed.”

She also shared details about Butler's quarterly appreciation luncheon for military and first responders.

Christine Martinez received the Paul Woolman Ambassador of the Year Award for her tireless efforts as an ambassador to ensure the events and activities in which she is involved flow seamlessly for those in attendance.

When she joined the chamber, she immediately became not only an ambassador, but one of its most faithful Military Affairs Council members. Also, if she ever is unable to attend a ribbon cutting, she stops by the member’s business as soon as she can afterwards to introduce herself and welcome them to the chamber.

“To top it off, she’s simply an individual member who loves serving the chamber,” said Moody.

Before closing the event, Sullivan recognized the chamber’s outgoing board members, including Kevin Bowyer of Warren Averett, Shannon Howell of Henderson Park Inn, and Bobby Wagner of Trees on the Coast.

Thank you to all event sponsors who contributed greatly to the event’s success, including presenting sponsor Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital; awards sponsors Okaloosa Gas and Trustmark National Bank; bar sponsor Five Channels; food station sponsors Eglin Federal Credit Union and Okaloosa Gas; and photobooth sponsor Coastal Reflections LLC.