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.