The Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted its 68th Annual Dinner on March 22, 2018 at Ramada Ligonier. During the dinner, the Chamber recognized the winners for the 2017 Business, Non-Profit and Person of the Year Awards.

The 2017 Business of the Year was awarded to Abigail’s Coffeehouse. Abigial’s was opened in 1998 by April Buckwalter, and named after her daughter, Abigail. David, April and their children Tyler and Abby ran Abigail’s for seven years. In 2005, the Buckwalter family decided to pursue other endeavors. It was then that the Stewart family bought the store. Dianne Gove Stewart had always wanted to open a coffeehouse, and even considered doing that while she still lived in Pittsburgh. Dianne comes from a background in retail management and her husband Joe’s background included many years in the restaurant and hospitality management industries.

The Stewarts moved to Ligonier in 2000 with their two young daughters, Ruthie (4) and Ellie (4 months). They spent a lot of time at Abigail’s during Sunday Evening Band Concerts, story hour at the Library and any trip to town. They were thrilled for the opportunity to own Abigail’s, become a part of the Ligonier business community and Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, and to carry on the tradition of Abigail’s Coffeehouse. Over the past 13 years, Abigail’s has been a home away from home for not only Joe & Dianne, but Ruthie and Ellie as well. The Stewart girls were raised in Abigail’s, and it has been there that they learned the value of hard work, customer service and the spirit of community.

The Non-Profit of the Year Award went to Ligonier Valley Meals on Wheels. The mission of Ligonier Valley Meals on Wheels is to provide a nutritious, hot lunch to eligible recipients regardless of ability to pay. Eligible recipients include frail, ill or disabled persons who are unable to adequately cook or shop for themselves. Meals on Wheels grew from a program started in England in the 1930s. In the 1950s that program grew and spread to other countries including the United States. The first Meals on Wheels home delivery program began in Philadelphia in 1954. Ligonier Valley Meals on Wheels started in the 1970s as an outreach of the Ligonier Valley Association of Churches and within a month of the start of the program in Ligonier Valley, the Heritage United Methodist Church stepped up to provide kitchen facilities to the program at no cost, including utilities and continues to offer their facilities.

The Meals on Wheels program in Ligonier originally operated under the umbrella of the Western Pennsylvania Lutheran Society. In 2009, the Ligonier Valley Meals on Wheels became an independent 501(c)-3 non-profit, governed by a board of 15. A small fee is charged to the recipients for their meals. The balance of the funding comes from donations from churches, local businesses and individual community members. The program operates with a corps of over 100 volunteers and a part-time staff of three. The part-time paid staff includes a kitchen supervisor, a volunteer coordinator and a custodian. In addition to providing a hot meal daily, volunteers provide a daily wellness check for recipients and an important link to family and friends of the recipients who may be unable to check on their loved ones daily.

Lastly, our Person of the Year Award went to Mr. Thomas Sylvester, who retired from Commercial Bank & Trust of PA after 23 years of service. Tom’s careers at the bank began in 1994 when he was hired at a Management Trainee. By 1995, he was promoted to the Customer Service Specialist for the Lincoln Road location of Commercial Bank. After just a few months in this position, he became the Community Office Manager of the Ligonier branch. By July 1995, he was awarded the Assistant Vice President Officer title. Throughout the early 2000s he moved between the Lincoln Road, Ligonier and Latrobe branches as Community Office Manager. In 2007 he became the Vice President Officer. His last title with the bank, Community Relationship Manager, was awarded in 2013. During Tom’s time in Ligonier he was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. He was also very involved in supporting the community in any way possible. Tom played a substantial role in solidifying Commercial Bank & Trust of PA’s place in the Ligonier community.

Congratulations to all of the winners for 2017. They’re all extremely deserving of these awards and integral parts of the Ligonier Community!

We would also like to thank all of the sponsors of the dinner: Shirey Engineering, Legacy Wealth Solutions, Post and Rail Men’s Shop, Janney, Somerset Trust Company, Tom & Nancy Donchez, McIntire Insurance, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Fort Ligonier Days, Giant Eagle and Excela Health. We couldn’t do it without you and truly appreciate your support.