Long Branch: The Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce presented the Louis G. Libutti Community Service Award to the Damiano Family at the Chamber’s 78th Annual Business Awards Dinner on Friday, March 9 2012 in the Grand Ballroom of the Ocean Place Resort and Spa before a delighted crowd of more than 150 business members, friends and associates.
The room itself was beautiful, with pink rose centerpieces gracing each dinner table. “We changed the setting, the way we use the space,” said Chamber Executive Director Nancy Kleiberg. “We want to allow more openness for socializing as guests move about placing their Silent Auction choices.” The space in front of the awards platform was brought closer to the dinner table in order to bring a more intimate air to the gathering as awards are presented.
R.J. "Buddie” Damiano thanked the well-wishers and told of the family’s 80 year history serving the city. A man with a gentle sense of humor, his many friends in the audience re-lived some of the anecdotes he shared with the room. Mayor Adam Made the presentation, recalling the community contributions have made and continue to bring.
Congressman Frank Pallone read and presented a tribute from the legislature in Washington with similar words describing all that the Damiano family has done for Long Branch and surrounding communities.
Business Development and UEZ Director Jacob Jones introduced the proceedings as the beginning of the night awards were presented to other award recipients. Chamber President Esther Cohen and Dinner Chair Lisa Borghese did the presenting honors for the Chamber.
The Business Improvements Awards went to Norwood Auto Parts, recently moved to Joline Avenue, and to The Rook Coffee Roasters, a new business in the city that started modestly in Oakhurst and has grown to their second location on Joline Avenue at Siperstein’s, opposite Monmouth Park.
The President’s Award went to Monmouth University for its specular Multipurpose Activity Center, a now well-known facility on the University campus in West Long Branch. The school was recognized for the structure and for its becoming so much a partner in community support.
The Silent Auction held many donated gifts from sports memorabilia, to baskets of cheer, fashions and other equally attractive items.
A magician –“Magic Engineer”, Kevin Bethea - intermingled with guests, providing a light moment here and there as playing cards appeared from nowhere, and smiles abounded.