Ocean City Today

Citizens honored during Chamber awards banquet

By Kara Hallissey | Sep 14, 2017
Photo by: Kara Hallissey Jack Burbage was named the Lifetime Achievement Award winner on Tuesday.

(Sept. 15, 2017) Six community members were honored on Tuesday evening during the ninth annual Ocean City Chamber Awards Celebration at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel on 101st Street.

A full-house of attendees enjoyed food and drinks, along with a performance from Bryan Russo’s Bargain Scotch.

“Every year we are very fortunate to honor outstanding individuals and this year is no different,” said Mayor Rick Meehan.

Members of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce recognized six local names for their achievements this year. They were Volunteer of the Year Terri Mahoney, of 47ABC/WMDT; Young Professional of the Year Jason D’Amore, of United Work & Travel; Non-Profit of the Year Worcester Youth & Family Counseling; Citizen of the Year Stephanie Meehan, of Funcade; Business Person of The Year Cole Taustin, of BLU Crabhouse/Embers Restaurant; and OC Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jack Burbage, of Blue Water Development Corporation.

“It’s very humbling to be in front of current and previous winners,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney thanked the chamber, Ambassador Committee members, 47ABC/WMDT for allowing her to be involved in the community, and her mother “for always teaching me to follow my dreams.”

The Volunteer of the Year award winner impacts the resort community in a positive way and unselfishly donates their time to help others.

“Look out, I will be calling on you sooner or later to get involved,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney, who grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs, has lived in Ocean City for 33 years working in advertising and marketing. For the last six years, she has been helping businesses on television and digitally for 47ABC.

She has volunteered for the American Cancer Society, Atlantic General Hospital, the Worcester County Humane Society, the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce, the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, and Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee.

D’Amore thanked the chamber, his mother and father, family, friends, and his boss, Kasey Simon, for giving him a “platform to shine by listening to my thoughts and encouraging me to grow” after receiving his Young Professional of the Year award.

“I have never been to a community where they are more welcoming,” D’Amore said.

D’Amore is a program coordinator for United Work and Travel where he works with participants, local landlords, and employers to make sure the J-1 Visa program is an enjoyable experience for all.

He is a chair of the Ocean City Young Professionals Committee, belongs to the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee and promotes Ocean City locally and around the world.

Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services in Berlin received the Non-Profit of the Year award for assisting community members for more than 40 years.

Peers praised the organization for impacting the community and providing a voice to the most vulnerable in Worcester County.

The nonprofit organization serves more than 1,100 people annually with mental health counseling, life skills education and empowerment, physical and emotional wellness activities, connections to community resources, advocacy to children who are victims of abuse and neglect, and outreach services for vulnerable families.

“Those that help are the heroes,” said Steven Taylor, executive director of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services.

He recognized each staff member and explained their roles in providing a critical service to families throughout the community.

In addition, Taylor thanked his parents and explained how they helped him become the person he is today, but also acknowledged how many children who utilize Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, are not as lucky.

“Please help them, reach out to a friend, a neighbor, colleague or employee, so we are all successful,” Taylor said.

Stephanie Meehan, a year-round resident of Ocean City since 1971 and the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award winner, began her Citizen of the Year speech by praising the resort community.

“I feel extremely blessed and glad over 45 years ago I made the decision to move to Ocean City,” Meehan said. “All this community does is give. Ocean City is a great place to live and for our visitors.”

Meehan has operated Funcade on the Boardwalk since 2001 and serves as president-elect for the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.

She received a Certificate of Recognition Award from Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot in 2015, volunteers her time at events and on committees benefitting Coastal Hospice, in addition to the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee, American Cancer Society and Ocean City Tourism Commission.

Business Person of the Year Cole Taustin of BLU Crabhouse and Embers Restaurant described his award as an honor. He explained his perspective on appreciation and how our shortcomings and setbacks in life help us to grow as individuals.

“I am thankful for the people who were there,” Taustin said. “I have been successful in business and the business community because of people in my life.”

Taustin, the vice president of Embers Restaurant, BLU Crabhouse and Raw Bar, thanked the chamber, United Way, his family, friends, co-workers, parents and girlfriend.

“I am fortunate of the people around me, who knew who I was and encouraged me to be better,” Taustin said.

Taustin is also a managing partner of the Embers Island Miniature Golf and a third generation of restauranteurs and hospitality businessman in Ocean City.

He is vice president for Worcester County at the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore, co-chairs the Brews and Bites Coastal Hospice fundraiser and serves on the board of directors at the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.

The night came to a close after the newest OC Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Jack Burbage, accepted his award. The prestigious award is not given out every year and candidates must have made a tangible impact on the community.

“Not often do you come across someone in your community that is the total package,” Delegate Mary Beth Carozza said. “You always inspire others to do better and give back.”

Before Burbage was called on stage, a video filled with loving messages from friends such as Leighton Moore and his family including his sons and grandchildren played for the teary-eyed businessman.

Burbage was described as “a visionary, full of integrity, caring, respected, driven, determined and empathetic” by his friends and peers on Tuesday night.

He thanked his friends, family and co-workers during an emotional speech.

“It is an honor and pleasure to be here and a humbling experience to receive this honor or even being considered,” Burbage said. “What a great community we live in. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will forever be grateful.”

After acquiring Mystic Harbour in 1991, Burbage developed three additional subdivisions and two commercial properties with the help of his sons. In 2007, they purchased Castaways Campground in Berlin.

Today, Blue Water Development Corporation owns three campgrounds and three hotels in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

He has served on the Taylor Bank Board of Directors for 30 years, on the board of directors for Diakonia since 2013, and has been a member of the Atlantic General Hospital Board of Trustees for 10 years.

In 2013, he received the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Leadership Award, and in 2015, the Hal Glick humanitarian award.

The winners are chosen through a process that begins with any Ocean City community member nominating a candidate.

An application is filled out with the potential award winner’s accomplishments and a panel of randomly selected committee members including board members and past president’s review and vote.

Past winners were recognized throughout the night and many wore flowers or corsages to highlight their achievements.

“The chamber plays a key role in building a successful community,” Carozza said. “Let’s hear it for the OC Chamber of Commerce.”

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