Chamber Awards Breakfast


By Joyce Ervin

The Milan Area Chamber of Commerce held a breakfast meeting on December 8 to honor volunteers and acknowledge individual and business nominees with Community Service Awards.
City Manager, Jade Smith, welcomed the attendees, honored volunteers and turned the program over to administrative assistant, Kim Rhoney.
One of the Individual Community Service Awards was presented to Mary Ochalek, owner of Ochalek-Stark Funeral Home in Milan since 1978 and Jessie Nie
Ochalek has served in several capacities with the Michigan Funeral Director District 2 organization.  She has used her knowledge speaking to and teaching Milan students about the funeral industry for years.  She is currently the treasurer of the Greater Milan Area Community Foundation and has served as president of the Milan Investment Club currently as vice president.
Adding to her resume, she has been a member of the Milan Federal Prison Board for more than 25 years and is currently a member of the chamber.
Ochalek is a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and an active member of the Church Parish Council and Catholic Women’s Council.  She also co-chairs the Christian Services for the parish.
For more than 15 years she helped deliver Christmas food baskets to the community, while serving as president of the now disbanded Civitan organization.
A fun fact, Ochalek was the first female to join Rotary Club when membership was open to women.  This year marks the 30th anniversary for women in Rotary.
Also honored with an Individual Community Service Award was Jesse Nie.  He was the co-creator of Bloom 2017, a fun event.  He designed and created the concept of the games featured in the park including a successful Digital Scavenger Hunt.
Devoting much time to the parks and recreation department, he created a disc-golf course and installed the Dock for the Kayak Launch.  His experience with Milan’s Rotary Club included establishing a more diverse social network presence and assisted in the annual Milan Feeds the World Event.
Other community events he donated his time to were the Crooked Tree Theatre and served as chairman for the Milan Summerfest.  In Wilson Park, he was responsible for a bike repair station during the walk/ride diabetes event.
The Business of the Year Award was presented to Ziad Ghamraoui, owner of Little Pharmacy in Milan.  He also owns and operates a Saline-based Little Pharmacy.
Ghamraoui is a generous supporter of Milan events with financial support for projects, donation of items for door prizes and sponsoring events.  The pharmacy makes monthly donations to Aid in Milan, donates to the Greater Milan Area Community Foundation for Gala Night and to the Anti-Bully Campaign in Milan.
He supports senior citizens with health needs through Milan Seniors for Healthy Living. He has provided at cost 72 blood pressure monitors and 15 oxygen meters since September of 2015.
At the other end of the spectrum, he sponsors Little League baseball, the Milan fair, the Christmas parade and the annual Milan Chamber Golf Fundraisers and Symons Elementary School’s classrooms.
Charles Pratt, owner of Charlie’s Destinations was acknowledged as the winner for the best dressed window display for the chamber sponsored Halloween Downtown Trick or Treat event.
The breakfast was catered by Back in the Day caterers and provided by Dennis O’Hare of Real Estate One and the chamber.

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan.  She can be contacted at: jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com

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