The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce announced today the winners of the following awards: Volunteer, Non Profit and Business of the Year, along with naming the Wagon Boss. These annual awards will be presented at the Chamber’s Annual Gala on Friday, August 13, 2021 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Dinner tickets are available by contacting the Chamber office at 719-687-9885 or going to the website at www.woodlandparkchamber.com.
Nominations were open for the awards over a two month period. Once the nomination process was closed, the nominations were submitted to a group of judges from out of state. “Each year we choose different judges, but continue with our rule to go out of state.” noted Chamber President Debbie Miller. “Utilizing judges who have no personal knowledge of the nominee ensures the nominees are judged based on the criteria, as well as the facts and narrative of the nomination.”
This year’s Volunteer was described as passionate for her family and community. Volunteer organizations who reap the benefit of her time include, Adoptable Animal Rescue Force (AARF); Ute Pass Symphony Guild; Woodland Park Main Street; Downtown Development Authority; and the Greater Woodland Park Chamber. Ellen Carrick handles her positions on all of the above named boards with grace, calmness, and quick to listen and slow to speak to ensure she has evaluated all sides of an issue. With this volunteer there are no hidden agendas, no false pretenses – just a desire to give back and serve to the best of her ability on the various non-profit organizations. “Remarkable acumen in business matters aside, Ellen is a fun person to serve with and cares deeply about her volunteer posts” said Lynn Jones, owner of Colorado Gearlab. “Over this past year, some of these organizations had to adapt a different way of operations,” said Deb Miller, President of the Greater Woodland Park Chamber. “Ellen was always one of the first willing to adapt and continue to move forward and grow the organization.”
The 2020 Non Profit award winner is Teller Senior Coalition. Since beginning in 1996 they have provided services to seniors in Teller County to enable them to live full, active and independent lives. Just prior to 2020, statistics revealed Teller County was growing “silver” and the need for additional services were being investigated by the Coalition’s Board. Then, March of 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic brought on much more urgent needs of how to reach the home bound seniors and provide the services needed during a pandemic. They had to address issues such as keeping drivers and staff safe while still reaching those home bound seniors with meals, groceries and medicine. Teller Senior Coalition staff and board made the cognizant decision to continue operations as an essential organization to ensure the senior population was served. As restrictions lessened they were able to transport passengers still following the CDC rules and assist with medical visits and more. “This non-profit is a critical cog for the Seniors of Teller County to be served.” noted Vera Egbert, Chamber Board member. “We are so fortunate they were able to pivot and provide services to those who were housebound at the height of the pandemic.”
The Chamber seeks to honor a member business – small or large – that can meet or exceed the criteria of exceptional job growth, economic sustainability, exemplary customer service, and participates with their local community. The criteria was never more challenging than in the year 2020. With the pandemic literally shuttering business doors in March, the 2020 Business of the Year pivoted to place products online and bought a building in the downtown area of Woodland Park to enhance their floor space and offer more gear when opening in person became a viable solution. The Chamber is pleased to announce that Colorado Gearlab owned and operated by Lynn and George Jones is the recipient of the 2020 Business Award. Prior to 2020 Colorado Gearlab’s path to growth was on a rising trajectory. Then COVID-19 hit. Lynn utilized the “shutdown” time to pivot her businesses method of customer acquisition to “online” with their products. Once open to the public again, she followed the CDC guidelines to ensure customers and staff stayed safe. This ensured continued operations of the store. During this time, behind the scenes, Lynn and George were negotiating a purchase of an existing downtown facility that would enlarge their space capacity and keep them on Main Street. Over the years Lynn has been active with the “Shop Small” campaign, even being featured by the Small Business Development Center in Colorado Springs. “Lynn and George are an integral part of our business community here in Woodland Park,” said Steve Woolf, Chairman of the Chamber Board. “Their desire to assist others through the Shop Small Campaign or serving on the Main Street Board is why they are the perfect choice for Business of the Year.”
The Greater Woodland Park Chamber’s Wagon Boss is a person of great ethical standards, integrity and a distinguished leader who is actively involved in their community. This individual has made a positive and lasting impact on the region. In essence, they are the Citizen of the Year. The 2020 Wagon Boss Ken Matthew is the epitome of who we seek to represent us as Wagon Boss. Having the opportunity to move to Colorado, Ken and his wife Julie chose Woodland Park back in 1986 due to its small-town feel, friendliness and the beautiful scenery. A choice they are still thrilled with today. Ken was taught to “give back” to the community that you live in by his father and Ken reiterated that life lesson to his daughter as she grew up. She, in fact had the perfect role model in her father as she watched him participate in a number of non-profit boards and become involved with community government. Ken served 2 terms on City Council, which afforded him the opportunity to serve as liaison on the Woodland Park Utilities Board and Keep Woodland Park Beautiful. He is a past president of the Teller County Home Builders, served 10 years on the Planning Commission, a member of the Teller County Economic Development Council, charter member of the Ute Pass Kiwanis Club and a key partner in the creation of the Woodland Park Teen Center. “Ken has never been selfish with his time, knowledge and integrity.” said Michael Harper. “He lent his expertise and leadership willingly to all organizations he served.” Former Mayor Gary Crane noted “Ken use to say, builders are the guys with the white hats on.” “Now, we can say Ken wears that white hat as a proud and elite member of the Wagon Boss Group,” says Chamber President Miller. Ken was instrumental in the creation and development of the Teen Center that has provided valuable opportunities for the youth of the region. Ken founded his semi-custom home building business in Woodland Park in 1986. He had the foresight to understand where the home industry was moving in respect to energy-efficient homes and provided that opportunity to those in the region. Ken was also co-owner of the Insurance Center with his wife Julie. Both of them understood success not only comes from hard work, but giving back to those who do business with you through your community involvement. “I have often stated that if you look up the definition of “perseverance” you would likely find Ken listed as an example. Ken always went the extra mile to bring the best to Woodland Park and Teller County, not for himself but for the citizens and visitors to our great town and area.” said former Woodland Park Mayor and Teller County Commissioner Clarke Becker.