ABOUT THE GOLDEN COCONUT AWARD
and Chamber Honorees Awards
The Golden Coconut Award was established in 1965 as the annual recognition bestowed by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce for considerable merit. It is presented to any individual, business or group whose efforts, in the sole opinion of the Selection Committee, have significantly benefited Coconut Grove.
Each year, the Chamber sends out a Call for Nominees from among its membership. Nominations are accepted from members in good standing at least one month prior to, and received by the Chamber’s Administrative Director, no later than four days preceding the Selection Committee meeting.
The Selection Committee members are recommended by the president but selected by the Board of Directors.
It is comprised of five chamber members, all of whom are then ineligible to receive the award nomination unless otherwise selected to the committee.
A bit of history:
In 2005, Board Member of the Year Award was added. This award is given to the Board member which their fellow board of directors feel has shown outstanding leadership.
In 2006, The President’s Award was added. This award is given to the individual or group that in the sole opinion of the president, merits recognition for their particular help to the president during the year.
In 2006, The Community Service Award was also added. This is similar to a “People’s Choice” award given to an individual or organization that has distinguished civic leadership for the good of the community and or outstanding public service.
It is the pleasure of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce to present the Golden Coconut recipients...
Golden Coconut Award, 2010
The Honorable Marc David Sarnoff
City of Miami Commissioner, District 2
Encompassing Coconut Grove and Zip Code 33133
City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s objectives have been to enrich the quality of life for everyone in District 2. For Coconut Grove especially, that has meant a commitment to increasing safety, promoting good health, choosing smart development, and protecting the tree canopy and the environment.
As Chairman of the City Commission in 2010, Commissioner Sarnoff led the way during the City’s budget crisis and his careful stewardship during those difficult times helped to preserve funds for increased policing in Coconut Grove. The stepped-up patrols culminated in Coconut Grove being named one of the “Safest Neighborhoods” in the United States.
In 2010, the Commissioner showed his commitment to the quality of life in Coconut Grove by passing legislation clarifying the City’s noise ordinance, completing the installation of new lighting along Grand Avenue and Main Highway, and helping refurbish several parks including Kennedy Park, Blanche Park and Merrie Christmas Park, installing new gym equipment, runners’ paths and new play areas for children.
Commissioner Sarnoff has also assisted the Chamber through his efforts in helping to secure the Ford sponsorship for the Taste of the Grove in 2009, for always helping the Chamber with fireworks for our July 4th event, as well as helping out in any way possible with the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.
Commissioner Sarnoff continues to listen to his constituents’ concerns and to improve the quality of life in Coconut Grove for the residents as well as the merchants.
It is a distinguished honor for the Chamber to present the Golden Coconut award to this Coconut Grove resident, supporter, and representative.
-- Contributed by Sue McConnell and Gary Ciuca
CHAMBER MEMBER OF THE YEAR 2010:
Senior Real Estate Manager, CB Richard Ellis
Asset Services - South Florida /Mayfair Center
Treasurer, Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Ed Prelaz, a West Virginia native, has lived and worked in South Florida as a real estate professional for almost 30 years. He has an undergraduate degree in Finance and Business Law and an MBA from the University of Kentucky.
Ed has worked for CB Richard Ellis, one of the world’s leading Commercial Real Estate firms for seven years. He is currently the Senior Real Estate Manger at the Mayfair in Coconut Grove and has managed a number of Class A office and mixed use projects throughout the Miami area including the Alhambra in Coral Gables and Miami Center in downtown.
He is involved in various community and business organizations, including the Building and Owners Association (BOMA) where he was President for two years, Treasurer of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce where he has chaired the Casino Night fundraiser, the Finance Committee and the Membership Committee. He also co-chairs the Business Improvement District with Marc Sarnoff and has led or been a part of the Finance, Operations, Capital and other committees. He also does volunteer teaching for students at a Haitian school called Yvonne Learning where he has also helped to build a large garden with native plants.
It is perhaps, for his ever constant positive attitude and willingness to help, especially with the Chamber’s fund raising Casino event, that those of us who have had the privilege to serve on this board with Ed unanimously feel that he is, indeed, our MVP of 2010.
Community Service Award
bestowed by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, 2010
Paul Naron and Andy Haase, Proprietors
Shell Lumber & Hardware has been located at 2733 S.W. 27th Ave., Coconut Grove, Florida for over 80 years, providing more than 1,000 loyal customers daily with unparalleled service and reliability. Here are a few thoughts that are echoed, multiple times, by a grateful community:
Shell Lumber has been active in the business community and a supporter of local charities for over three decades. While almost all other hardware and lumber yards have succumbed to Big Box retailers, Shell has remained steadfast because Paul and Andy treat both employees and customers the way all businesses should. A Saturday morning at Shell Lumber is like a walk through a time machine to an era where walking into a village shop people were all on a first name basis. It is still that way today-- a place to meet neighbors and friends. I rarely go in there without seeing some friendly face I know from the Grove -- Contributed by L.B. Carpenter
Shell Lumber has always supported the Coconut Grove community and the Chamber. Shell always donates products and services whenever the need arises and is very involved in the community. They have always provided trucks and drivers for the Mango Strut parade, materials for the Barnacle Moonlight concert series, prize donations for the Chamber events, including Banners for July 4th, and material for the stage for Shakespeare in the Park, among many. They have also hosted community events at their facility. Basically whenever called upon, Shell Lumber is there to help, free of charge. -- Contributed by Dominic Lamberti
In the midst of the hurricanes of 2005, when some of us were scrambling to save trees that had fallen in our parks, Shell Lumber did not hesitate to provide the wood much needed to support the trees and give them a chance to heal and grow, so not only have they supported our community, they have, quite literally, supported our trees! -- Contributed by Santiago Villegas and Liliana Dones, TreeWatch
Community Service Award
bestowed by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, 2010
Major Jorge Colina
City of Miami Police Department,
Tactical Operations Section
Major Jorge Colina is a 21-year veteran of the Miami Police Department. He has worked in various units including patrol, criminal investigations, internal affairs and special investigations. Major Colina has aBachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and intends to pursue a Master’s Degree. He is happily married to Sandra with whom he has two great kids, Julian and Alexandra.
It should be noted that Major Colina and his team known as The Grove 5-0 are the reigning ‘Great Coconut Grove Bed Race’ champions.
But to the Grove he is not just a Bed Race Hero. Indeed, this past year while serving as the Coconut Grove Commander, the neighborhood was listed as one of the safest neighborhoods in the nation, a distinction to which he is proud to have contributed. He is equally proud, and we are grateful, of the fact that under his command, The Grove was able to achieve a robbery free month! This is a feat that had never been achieved before.
Major Colina brought community policing to the Grove by making sure that more officers patrolled on foot and on their bicycles, which allowed the community the an opportunity to know the officers that patrol their neighborhood.
This initiative was met with great results.
Coconut Grove is grateful to have had Jorge Colina to make a difference in our community. --Contributed by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the community.
President’s Award, 2010
bestowed by the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce President
of the Board of Directors, Anthony Noboa
to his MVP of Coconut Grove during his presidency in 2010
President Coconut Grove Art & Historical Association
Monty Trainer is president of the Coconut Grove Art & Historical Association, perhaps best known as the presenters of the annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival, probably the most recognized outdoor fine arts festival in the nation.
He has been an icon in Coconut Grove for as long as any of us can remember-- from establishing one of Miami’s most visited restaurants, to his participation in numerous community organizations. Perhaps the most telling sign that he belongs to this rarefied group known as “Icons” is that like Cher, Madonna and Bono, he is simply recognized by a single name: Monty.
Monty serves on the Board of Directors the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce, where he is co-chair for the Great Taste of the Grove. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Coconut Grove BID, and the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council. He also served as chairman of the New World School of the Arts for 2010. Additionally, he is Chair for Dade County Days, and founder and president of Greater Miami Host Committee. He is a past chairman of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and a long time supporter of the University of Miami and University of Florida.
Monty is a Golden Cane and a member of the UM baseball advisory committee and the Ibis Society also a University of Florida Bull Gator and a member of Florida Blue Key. Monty’s past achievements are lengthy, and we are grateful that his humble nature continues to drive him to maintain his dedication to the community.
He was invaluable for his encouragement to me personally in the past year, and for this reason, I am proud that to name him my MVP! -- Contributed by Anthony Noboa
Golden Coconut Awards for 2009
This past January 22nd, 2010, the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 44th Annual Golden Coconut Awards. The Banquet, held at the Mayfair Grill (at the Mayfair Hotel & Spa), honored outstanding members of our community for 2009. Chamber President Anthony Noboa was host to over 60 guests who turned out in support of the honorees. The Master of Ceremonies was Joseph Adler, Producing Artistic Director, GableStage and Coconut Grove Playhouse.
Community Service Award
The Noble Laureate for Literature (1913) Rabindranath Tagore said "I slept, and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted, and behold. Service was Joy." Yvonne McDonald's brief life was pure Joy.
She dedicated her life to helping others ever through her own adversities, being legally blind at an early age. Yvonne was a dedicated public servant, a courageous and eloquent woman and an unshakable force of leadership in her beloved community of Coconut Grove. Community involvement was her way of life. Despite her near blindness, never requiring the least bit of assistance in her pursuits.
She believed in hope when all was in despair, and motivated many to recovery from addiction, and further employed and trained individuals to become constructive citizens of society. As an outstanding community leader, Yvonne was appointed and then elected to serve on the Coconut Grove Village Council. When Marc Sarnoff was elected to serve as Commissioner of District 2, he tapped Yvonne to be among his senior staff. As aide and community liaison to Commissioner Sarnoff, Yvonne used her resources and "Yes, we can," attitude to be an instrument, first hand for the betterment of her community. She received many honors, as is befitting, in her lifetime.
Coconut Grove misses Yvonne, but take some comfort that she will always be a part of Coconut Grove-- literally, for this fall, a stretch of 32nd Avenue coincidentally also known as McDonald Avenue, was officially named in her memory.
Community Service Award
A 22-year veteran of the Miami Police Department, Jorge Martin rose through the ranks and is presently a Major of Police in command of the Criminal Investigations Section. He holds an MS Degree in Criminal Justice from Florida International University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, DEA Drug Unit Commander Academy, and the Police Executive's Research Forum Senior Management Institute of Police.
Major Martin is a recipient of the department's prestigious Fraternal Order Of Police, Walter E. Headley Officer of the Year Award for 1998 along with other awards including over 100 letters of commendation.
Striving always to keep open lines of communication between police and the citizenry, he walked the BEAT regularly in the Village, partnered with merchants and homeowner groups while reinstituting the police liaison meetings and regularly attending the All Grove Crime watch and Village Council meetings. Major Martin's immediate goals are to serve the citizens of the City of Miami in my investigative role and aspire to be a Division Chief should the opportunity present itself.
Coconut Grove is grateful to have had Jorge Martin to make a difference in our community.
Tom Falco grew up in Coconut Grove. In the 1980s while in school he worked part-time for a now defunct paper called the Grapevine. It was the inspiration for the popular blog, named among the "bloggiest neighborhood blogs," in the country which he edits about the daily events, hot topics and issues affecting our community. Indeed, there are few people who live or work in Coconut Grove not familiar with the Coconut Grove Grapevine.
Tom started the Grapevine in 2005 because he saw a need for daily news in the Grove, and for give-and-take discussion of Grove politics, issues and events. The rest is history. The blog started slowly, but then took off. Suddenly it was read by thousands of people a day. While at times controversial, it is always a champion of Coconut Grove, its residents and businesses. It provides a colorful outlet for perspectives and input from those who live and work in Coconut Grove.
It also provides an invaluable service to the community. Every day, Tom is out there taking pictures, getting information and posting constant, fresh info on the blog-- everything from community service information, things of interest, calendar of events, restaurant listings and even showcasing all the businesses of Coconut Grove. It is hard to imagine a day without reading the Grapevine, at least 5 times.
Tom is also a volunteer - he generously gives of his time and provides his time and publicity through the blog for all Grove events, most notably the Great Grove Bed Races and the July 4th event. His promotion of Coconut Grove is constant. We are grateful to count on Tom Falco for gossip, public forum and constant information, and most of all for his love of Coconut Grove and his enthusiastic support to our businesses and residents.
Guillermo "Willie" Vega is the Executive Director and Branch Manager at Oppenheimer and Co., Inc. The 38-person office he has headed for the past eight years is based in Coconut Grove. Previously, Willie was Assistant Vice president at Lehman Brothers. He grew up in Miami and graduated from Barry University. He is married and has 2 children. The oldest attends the Arts & Minds Academy in Coconut Grove.
A frequent volunteer of its signature events, in 2008 Willie was elected to the Board of Directors of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce, where he currently serves in the Executive Committee as Treasurer.
As serious as he is about the role he plays in the world of finance, Willie is also serious about the importance of celebrating the joy of life. Willie is passionate. He is passionate, for instance, about the Mayfair Hotel and Spa, his home away from home. He is passionate about holidays (which he often spends at the Mayfair, in fact). He warned the Board, early on that he would attend every meeting except those falling on holidays, because his family celebrates every holiday. Not just Thanksgiving or Easter. But every holiday, including St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo. It is with this enthusiasm that he approaches volunteering. For the past 2 years, he has helped to shape a new and successful signature event as Co-Chair in 2008 and Chair of Casino Night. Raising enthusiasm for a fund raiser in the middle of this recession is not an easy task, but Willie was undaunted. When others question things, or yield to pessimism, Willie's main question always seems to be, "So how can we make this better?" It is for this approach to finding solutions that the Chamber is lucky to have him at the helm of the 4th of July Celebration, as Event Co-chair this year. --Contributed by his admiring fellow board member, Liliana Dones on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce.
Golden Coconut Awards, 2009
Golden Coconut, 2009
Pierre Sands is the president of the Village West homeowners and Tenants Association (HOATA). Pierre grew up in Coconut Grove, and attended Coral Gables High School. Pierre is a tree surgeon of renown. His landscaping business, A Little Tree Service, has maintained many a tree throughout the Grove. But Pierre is best know for his unfailing involvement and love of this community.
If there is a human in need of help, Pierre is there as a volunteer. If there is a tree in need of help, Pierre is also there. In 2005, he became founding member of TreeWatch, together with fellow arborist Bob Brennan, Marc Sarnoff, Santiago Villegas and Liliana Dones, based on an idea by former Village Council member and Grovite, Bob Ferreira, in response to the alarming rate in which the Grove's famous canopy with rapidly being depleted through the illegal cutting of trees.
Since then TreeWach has counted on Pierre's professional opinion for everything from determining the health of a tree whose existence hangs in the balance, to showing up at Historic Preservation Board, Code Enforcement Board, Village Council and City Commission meetings to testify in favor of our tree canopy, and work towards educating people to the importance of the canopy to our environment and well being.
The Grove is a little greener, and a lot shadier, because of Pierre, and for that give him our sincere thanks and gratitude.
Golden Coconut, 2009
As a dolphin trainer for Miami Seaquarium back in the 1970s, Robert Parente had no clue he was building skills that would help prepare him for a future role as Miami's liaison to the international filmmaking community. "I learned how to interpret body language and communicate in non-verbal ways that have helped me immeasurably," notes the director of the Mayor's Office of Film & Cultural Affairs for the City of Miami. "I realized it is not always what you say that matters, but how you come across." His extensive experience in audio-visual production, photography and marketing - as well as an innate inclination toward public service - are also called upon as he keeps tabs on filming projects throughout the city, reaches out to potential new business, and interacts with producers and film crews.
Among his various responsibilities is making sure film and photo shoots are accomplished with minimal disruption. It is not as easy as it may sound. "For the ‘Miami Vice' movie, we shut down I-95 five times - and most people were never even aware of it," he says. "We convinced the production company to shoot their scenes as night, and notified every business within 15 miles that might be using the highway between midnight and 5 a.m."
"I am extremely fortunate in that I love what I do," he enthuses. "I especially enjoy the service side of the job - dealing with constituents, being a catalyst, making things happen, fixing problems. It gives me great joy at the end of each day to know that I made a difference." -- Excerpted from and article by Desiree del Campo from MIAMI MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
Coconut Grove is particularly grateful to Robert Parente for his part in helping create the Madhatter Arts Festival and bringing and maintaining a home for the sensationally popular cable television series, Burn Notice here in Coconut Grove. The series is a full hour commercial for Miami, and shows Coconut Grove in the dynamic light that beckons people to visit or live here.
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