Chamber honors outstanding citizen, business, non-profit

Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null awards outgoing president David Mollenkopf of Crabb Insurance Agency with a plaque containing a gavel during the annual meeting. (Salem News photos by Mary Ann Greier)

SALEM –When it comes to juggling volunteer service, work duties as an attorney and family life as a wife, mother, daughter and sister, 2017 Outstanding Citizen of the Year Shawna L’Italien said it all comes down to support, focus and balance.

“We all have qualities we can give,” she told her fellow chamber members Wednesday afternoon.

L’Italien credited support from other chamber members, directors and volunteers, the ability to focus on what matters for the task at hand, seeing it as fun not work, and keeping it all balanced with family time as essential for volunteeering as much as she does. She looked out at the crowd and said she saw many of the past people honored with the Outstanding Citizen of the Year award that she admired and who have meant so much to her over the years.

She said the chamber always does what’s in the best interest of the city of Salem and for that she’s proud.

L’Italien offered thanks to her law firm Harrington, Hoppe, and Mitchell, Ltd. for the positive support she’s been shown since she started fresh out of law school. She thanked her parents, who taught her about hard work, her sister for her support, her daughter for her kind heart and her husband Mark for all he does.

The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce honored Outstanding Citizen of the Year Shawna L’Italien, Business of the Year Essential Vision Care and Non-Profit Organization of the Year the Banquet in Salem during the 71st annual chamber meeting Wednesday afternoon. Pictured from left are honorees L’Italien, Essential Vision Care owner Dr. Rebecca Brown and Rev. William Wilkins of the Banquet.

A graduate of United High School and member of United High School Wall of Fame, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mount Union and her law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She’s practiced law since 1996. She’s received numerous recognitions from other groups, including the Athena Leadership Award from the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, the community service award for attorneys 40 and under from the Ohio State Bar Association, Kiwanis International Appreciation Award for outstanding and devoted service and the Mahoning Valley Professionals 20/30 Club: 40 under 40 Shining Star MVP Award

“Shawna’s community service is immense and extremely impressive,” the chamber annual meeting booklet said.

Besides her service to the chamber on the board of directors, chamber ambassadors and legislative affairs committee, her service has extended to: the Salem Regional Medical Center Board of Directors as chairman, treasurer and currently Charitable Foundation Board member; president of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center Inc./SAIDC Board of Directors; Counseling Center of Columbiana County Board of Directors as president, vice president and trustee; Leadership Columbiana County Board of Directors; United Community Scholarship Foundation trustee; Salem Kiwanis Club Board of Directors Past President (two terms); Northern Columbiana County Chapter of American Red Cross trustee and chapter president; and volunteer teacher for the Junior Achievement School Program.

The chamber also honored Essential Vision Care owned by Dr. Rebecca Brown as this year’s Outstanding Business of the Year and the Banquet in Salem as the Outstanding Non-Profit Organization of the Year.

“Honoring these entities creates an example for the rest of the community to follow. It emphasizes that community service is a vital and important need and it gives clarity to what community service means. It may inspire others to take on community service, and even become community champions themselves,” Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null wrote in the program explaining why the chamber started honoring businesses and non-profits.

From left, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null recognizes the new slate of officers for 2018, including outgoing president David Mollenkopf of Crabb Insurance, former past president and outgoing director Scott Jones of Gordon Brothers Water, president Tony Maroni of Essex of Salem, first vice president Dan Scarpitti of Hunter Associates, second vice president Nate Mullen of Morris Financial Group and treasurer Julie Needs of Home Savings Bank.

Essential Vision Care, headed by Brown and her staff, volunteer their time and expertise to assist with student vision screenings at Salem and United Local schools, Brown gives classroom presentations to students about eyesight and her “Real Eyes” program teaches kids about eye anatomy, safety and eye disorders. She has also sponsored several youth sports teams and coached, along with offering free pairs of prescription sports goggles to students who already wear glasses through the “Play Hard, Don’t Blink” program.

She serves as president of the Board of Directors of the Ohio Optometric Association and has continually renovated and updated the historic 140-year-old home where her office is located on North Ellsworth Avenue. She’s owned the business since 2012.

Brown thanked her family and had her staff stand up to be recognized. Her staff includes Christine Featsent, Shawna Yost and Leisha Crutchley.

Pastor William Wilkins represented the Banquet in Salem, which he helped to found in September 2004. The average number of meals served each week on Monday nights is 196, with the average number of meals on one Thursday night a month 156. According to the description included in the booklet, the Banquet’s mission “is a community effort to provide a welcoming table of nutritious food and compassionate companionship to all who seek it.”

“The Banquet is not a one-person operation,” Wilkins said, giving a nod to all the volunteers who sponsor, prepare and serve meals.

The number of volunteers who come from churches, businesses, organizations and governmental entities is in the hundreds. There are individuals and families who volunteer, too.

In other business, the chamber recognized outgoing chamber directors Betty Brothers of the city of Salem, Cami Cope of Giant Eagle, Andrew Estock of Farmers National Bank, Scott Jones of Gordon Brothers Water and Mary Walker of Copeland Oaks/Crandall Medical Center. New chamber directors elected were Ryan Boyce of Adamson Veterinary Services, Jennifer Corvino of Community Hospice, William Dawes of Fairway Independent Mortgage, Chris Harn of DT Moore and Company, Matt Joing of Butech Bliss and Kate Oesch of Northwood Realty.

New officers include president Tony Maroni of Essex of Salem, first vice president Dan Scarpitti of Hunter Associates, second vice president Nate Mullen of Morris Financial Group, treasurer Julie Needs and past president David Mollenkopf, along with Null and administrative assistant Lori Jewell.