by KAITLYN NAPLES
Every year, for the last 106 years, the Plainville Chamber of Commerce has hosted its annual awards dinner and annual meeting. What made this year’s event unique was two award recipients were chosen for the “Employee of the Year,” who even nominated each other.
“They truly are a team,” said Robert Lee, Plainville’s town manager, about the two individuals who are at the helm of the Plainville Senior Citizens Center. He added that the Senior Center “is one of, if not the best senior center in the state” which is attributed to Cohen’s and Guberman’s dedication.
Shawn Cohen, director of the center, and Ronda Guberman, assistant director, both said they couldn’t do the work they do without each other, and their part-time staff and nearly 300 volunteers.
Shawn Cohen has been working at the Center for more than 39 years, and is the first and only director the center has had. She worked hard with Community Development to obtain funding for expansion at the Senior Center, providing space for a fitness center, a café, a store, and a loung area. In addition to all of the work Cohen does at the center, she is also heavily involved in the local community and has served on the PTO board, the Wheeler Regional YMCA board, has worked with United Way initiatives and more.
Ronda Guberman has been at the Senior Center for 27 years, and has been able to create unique new programs for members, train volunteers, obtain grant funding, work compassionately with members, and more.
“It is so wonderful to be recognized together because we just fill in for each other and work together so well,” Cohen said, adding that the center would be nothing without the volunteers and staff as well. “They care so deeply for the members, they give so much and go above and beyond.” Guberman added the award and recognition was “really a tribute to the kind of work we do,” such as seeing members enjoying their retirement and being a part of a larger community.
State Representative Betty Boukus (Plainville, New Britain) provided citations from the General Assembly, and said the center “is a Mecca for so many people.” She added that after state funding was secured, the center will be getting a new parking lot this spring.
Receiving the “Distinguished Volunteer Award” at last Tuesday’s event was Linda Garcia, who is the market master for the Farmers Market of Plainville, a post she is taking on for the third year in a row.
In 2012, Garcia and other local volunteers came together to establish the Farmers Market, which is located outside of Plainville High School on Fridays during the summer.
Plainville Chamber of Commerce chair Kathy Aubrey-Bergonzi said Garcia always wanted to bring a farmers market to Plainville, after she grew up on her grandfather’s farm in Plainville.
In addition to her dedication to organizing the farmers market, and her job as executive director for the Plainville ARC (PARC), Garcia is the founder of “Circle of Artists,” where individuals refurbish and design chairs for nonprofit organization’s fundraisers.
Assistant Town Manager Shirley Osle said “I don’t know how Linda does it,” regarding all of her volunteer work, especially with the farmers market.
“She is quite remarkable,” Osle added.
Garcia said she believes being a part of something, such as volunteering or making an impact, that she desires will help it more likely become a reality.
“Thinking alone isn’t going to make something happen,” she added.
This year’s recipient of the “Business of the Year” award is a family-run company that has roots in Plainville stemming back 76 years. The D.R. Templeman Company all began in the basement of David R. Templeman on Park Street in Plainville. Over the course of the last 76 years, the precision spring and wire forms supplier has passed through three generations and is currently located on Northwest Drive and is run by three brothers –Arthur, Richard, and David Williams.
The company has been active in the community and supports many local organizations and charities, like supporting the United Way annual campaign and Joy of Sharing, PARC, YMCA, Plainville Rotary, Plainville Fire Company Balloon Festival and the Plainville Police Union kids programs. Former owner of the company Eugene Williams served as director and treasurer of the Plainville Chamber of Commerce and Richard Williams has served as chairman of the Board in 2010 and 2011 and currently serves on several committees.
“No company will be successful unless it is built on a foundation,” said co-owner Richard Williams, as he added that he is thankful D.R. Templeman Company was built on a solid foundation by his family.