UPDATE: Gresham Chamber names Greg Matthews as Honoree of the Year
In his formative years, Greg Matthews went straight from Gresham High School to enlisting in the Army, where he served as a paratrooper and military police officer.
His role in the Battle of Grenada earned him a rank of noncommissioned sergeant. The White House cited him for giving his protective vest to American students during sniper fire.
Following his military service, he returned home and became a Gresham police officer. He later made the jump to the Gresham Fire Department in 1997 before being elected to the Oregon House of Representatives. He served in that role between 2009 and 2015.
In 2013 — while still serving in the House — he was appointed as interim chief of the Gresham Fire Department and then promoted to the official top job. Matthews also has been a tireless volunteer through local schools, the Gresham Elks Club and Camp Rosenbaum, which provides mentorship to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
These are among the Matthews' accomplishments described by Gresham auto dealer Jan Weston in naming Matthews Honoree of the Year at the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce's Business Excellence Awards luncheon on Wednesday. Keeping with tradition at the annual event, held at Pathway Church on Northeast Division Street, Weston — last year's honoree — had the role of introducing him.
"Gresham has given me everything (so) I just love to give back to (the community)," said an emotional Matthews after watching a video tribute from his father. "This is my hometown … You don't have to pay me. You don't have to be paid by the city to continue to contribute."
Here are the other nine category winners at the event, whose sponsors include presenting sponsor Gresham Sanitary Service, MetroEast Web Academy, Columbia Bank, Comcast Built for Business, PGE, AXIS Design Group and Gresham Ford.
Nonprofit Winner — Gresham Elks Lodge No. 1805
"We need organizations that have a strong and committed focus on our military veterans," said presenter Marty Jones, CEO of MetroEast Community Media. "Our community is grateful to have the Gresham Elks be the perfect example of veteran focus."
Chuck Dangerfield, accepting the award for the Elks, said the recognition "shows that together, we can make a difference."
Family Business Winner — SERVPRO of Gresham, water damage restoration business
"Owners Dennis and Ellen Mesford have been in the business ... for over 27 years," said Kasey Gertz of Burns Feed Store. "They would be the first to tell you that their success is a direct result of their staff, many who have been with them for decades."
Dennis Mesford, in accepting the award, said, "We strive to help people in their times of need with extreme care and passion. That is our mission statement."
Small Business Winner — Rob Hendrickson, State Farm Insurance
"Rob has built his business plan around the concept of servant leadership … to his clients, employees and community (members) tying each together with his time and talents," said John Clark of Stamp-Connection. "Rob stuffed and packaged hundreds of cinnamon rolls in containers to help with the Biscuits-SnowCap fundraiser. His volunteer work also included being an active parent for the Lewis and Clark Montessori Charter School."
"To everyone in the room, a heartfelt thank you," Hendrickson said, before the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to him.
Medium Business Winner — Clackamas County Bank
"In 1918, Walker A. Proctor invested $10,000 to buy a controlling interest in the bank," said Chris Holenstein of Gresham Animal Hospital. "Little did he realize that his investment and purchase would lead to five generations of family leadership ... it actually is the community service that put this nominee over the top."
"We are so appreciative to be part of such an outstanding group of people, businesses and the city of Gresham," said bank President Cathy Stuchlik, as she accepted the award on behalf of the bank.
Large Business Winner — FedEx Ground
"Investing in a facility, providing over 800 jobs, and plans for expansion are exactly what the doctor ordered for our part of the Metro area," said Greg Matthews as he introduced the Large Business Winner. "FedEx Ground Troutdale location employees volunteered a combined 802 times at 72 local events."
Shane Spannaus, senior manager, said, "FedEx Ground is unique in that we rely so much on success of businesses small, medium and large. We thank them for their recognition today."
"Rising Star" Winner — David Ligatich, Biscuits Café
"Running a business is 24/7 but still David took advantage of the opportunity to be a student in the Leadership Academy, which helped him broaden his view of the community," said last year's Rising Star Michelle Kosta. "I had the great opportunity to be in the same leadership class with David ... I watched all of my peers develop their leadership skills … He now wants to serve as a leader in a more structured way."
"I want to thank my wife Dana for the hard work and vision she puts into this restaurant," Ligatich said. "Because I love doing it and I love this community."
Volunteer Winner — Bruce Montgomery, Pleasant Home United Methodist Church
Joan Albertson lauded Montgomery for his volunteer work with Salvation Army Camp Kuratli, SnowCap Community Charities and Gresham Barlow School District.
He likened the "retired" pastor to Daniel Webster's definition of volunteering: "to perform or offer to perform a service of one's own free will."
"In 32 years, I was blessed to have been part of 16 different nonprofits and social services agencies," Montgomery said. "In my judgment, that is the lifeblood of the community."
Try Local Winner — Judy Wylie, Accent on Attitude
"It is easy to share when times are good, but (Wylie) shares all the time," said Bess Wills of Gresham Ford … "Judy Wylie exemplifies why small business is so important to our community."
Rotary Ethics Award Winner — Gresham Women's Shelter
The Gresham Area Rotary Club is invited each year to present its Ethics in Business Award during the Chamber awards event.
The club selected the Gresham Women's Shelter, saying it has a proven ability to utilize every dollar to the greatest advantage as it serves women and children who come to them seeking an escape from often dangerous circumstances.
"This organization stretches a dollar farther than I've ever seen," said Rotarian Mark Eisenzimmer, who presented the award.
"Every year thousands of folks access our shelter," said Christina Newcomb, volunteer and donations coordinator for the shlter. "We really do strive to … see folks strive more than survive."