Chamber of Commerce announces award winners at annual barbecue banquet

Published 4:21 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

The Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce held its 119th annual barbecue banquet on Thursday night (Jan. 26) at the Washington Civic Center where they announced the winners of the Meritorious Award, Entrepreneur of the Year, Community Leader of the Year and Business of the Year. 

The Meritorious Award was presented to Henry Capogna for his five years of service to the Beaufort County community. He has served as a volunteer, supporter, board member and President at Eagle’s Wings Food Pantry. He also has been President of the Noon Rotary Club in Washington and was instrumental in assisting with the merger of the Sunrise and Evening Rotary groups that would become the Washington Rotary. He volunteers at the Rotary Blood Drive, Smoke on the Water and other Rotary sponsored events. He is an active member at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church where he helps organize an annual Toys for Tots collection. 

“His spirit is always about helping others and improving the lives of people in Beaufort County. He encourages others to perform at least one ‘selfless act’ each day to prove you are inspired by the Holy Spirit,” Read Allen, president of Flatlands Insurance Group said. 

This year’s entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Tom Ryan of Pamlico Books in downtown Washington. 

Jeff Furst, of Flying Pig Provisions and Flying Pig Inn, presented Ryan with the award. He said Ryan has “a boundless passion” for what he does. “The knowledge, and enthusiasm he has for his work is palpable and he shares both generously with everyone that comes into his store;  and both are reflected in how he gives back to the community.  Being part of the Chamber, donating proceeds of some sales to charity, doing a Halloween give-a-way, offering free seminars, enthusiastically supporting downtown events, to name a few.” 

The Community Leader of the Year award was presented to Agape Health Services. Agape is a nonprofit which provides medical care, behavioral health, dental health, public health and pharmacy services to low-income families and individuals in Eastern North Carolina. In Washington and Hyde County, Agape has five school-based health sites and an integrated Care Mobile Health Unit that serves all patient populations. They also are certified community behavioral health Clinic and have initiated chronic disease and chronic pain self management education programs and implemented a national hypertension control initiative. 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Agape was instrumental in assisting the City of Washington Police and Fire Department with obtaining Covid testing in a timely manner and receiving results in a day. This allowed the City to maintain its public safety obligation without disruption. Also during this time, they partnered with the City of Washington Police Department to start 2 major initiatives: The fist one is The LEAD program (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) which is a pre-booking program designed to divert low level offenders from the traditional criminal justice system to appropriate individualized treatment services. A LEAD case manager will work with the person to refer them to an array of services such as mental health and drug treatment, harm reduction housing, and supportive services,” Washington City Manager Jonathan Russell said when presenting the award to Agape, 

“The second one is so important and it is Mental Health Collaboration. This partnership allows the the City of Washington Police Department to have a co-responder approach to dealing with persons in a mental crisis. The mental health professional is able to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when the police department sees a need. The new police station, once completed, will house this personnel. Each patrol shift will have an assigned mental health professional. This program will allow for a more comprehensive approach to mental health issues in Beaufort County which we can all agree will benefit our community.” 

Business of the Year was presented to First Bank for their employees’ involvement in Washington Walk to De-Feet Dementia, Humane Society, Belhaven Rotary, Wilkinson Center Board with events Wine and Dine and Firecracker dinner, the Boys and Girls Club, Inner Banks Stem Center, Inner Banks Home Builder Association,  Chamber Ambassadors, Chamber Board of Directors, Noon Rotary and more. First Bank has held appreciation events for First Responders in Beaufort County and on a corporate level nominated and received $20,000 for a local resident to help build a downstairs bedroom/bath for their child that has Spinal Muscular Atrophy.