The East Portland Chamber honors its own (and others!)

See who was called forward, and why they were selected for honors – plus a wrap-up of Chamber activities – presented at the Annual Holiday Breakfast. See who you recognize, in this huge batch of photos that accompanies the story …

Mary Ann Gray and Teeneke Barresi of Westside Secretarial Services check in guests at this special edition of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce’s “Good Morning East Portland”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Members and guests of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce (EPCC) gathered in the upper meeting room of Egtvedt Hall at Warner Pacific College to celebrate the successes of another year, accept the gratitude of organizations helped, and to present honors to active members.

A tasty, hot breakfast buffet awaited the forty or so revelers at the December 15 edition of their weekly “Good Morning East Portland” meetings.

A hot food buffet, featured as the “First Annual Holiday Breakfast”, delights attendees.

Deborah Higa. Business Services Representative at Mt. Hood Community College, and Crismon Lewis, Reliv International Distributor, start off the meeting.

As attendees tucked into their breakfast, Deborah Higa and Crismon Lewis outlined the morning’s activities. The group dispensed with member and guest self-introductions, and began recognizing committees and members for their contributions during the year.

Committee Awards
Outgoing EPCC President Rich Sorem, of Rose City Associates, had plaques – each inscribed with a “Teamwork” motto – for representatives of the Government Affairs, Membership, Marketing, and Ambassador committees.

Mike Giannetti with MPG Marketing & Mailing Services accepts the “Teamwork” plaque honoring the Government Affairs Committee from EPCC’s president, Rich Sorem.

Chris Schloe of Edible Arrangements accepts honors for the Membership Committee from Rich Sorem.

Rich Sorem presents honors for the Marketing Committee to Brian Schatz of Spool Video.

EPCC Ambassadors Chair, Deborah Higa, accepts honors from Rich Sorem.

Business community participation
Chair of the EPCC Ambassadors Deborah Higa reviewed some of the highlights of the group’s participation in civic, business, and non-profit events, including:

  • 82nd Ave. of Roses Parade,
  • EPCC golf tournament,
  • American Cancer Society Relay for Life,
  • SE Works Fundraiser,
  • Annual Turkey Bowl, and
  • Ribbon cutting ceremonies at Columbia Medical and SE Works.
  • Community service participation

Representatives from several service and non-profit organizations were on hand to acknowledge the EPCC for their support during 2010.

Deb Murray, from David Douglas High School, thanks members for helping out with Mock Interviews and other events.

Karli Signs from the American Cancer Society talks about the 2010 Relay for Life.

Board Chair of SE Works Dan Stein thanks the Chamber for its support.

SnowCap Charities’ Executive Director Judy Alley expresses appreciation.

Sarah Gorley accepts a check for the Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division – the proceeds of a Chamber fundraiser – from Crismon Lewis.

Deborah Higa then recognized GMEP regular meeting-room providers: Warner Pacific College, CherryWood Village, Courtyard Marriott, Worksource East, and Adventist Health.

Higa also announced that the Chamber gained 14 new members in 2010.

Holly Moss, of The Bookkeeping Company – the acknowledged “queen” of the annual Turkey Bowl Tournament – accepts a gift from EPCC Ambassador Chair Deborah Higa.

Recognition certificate presentation

David F. Ashton of East Portland accepts a “Certificate of recognition for outstanding dedication and commitment to East Portland” from EPCC president Rich Sorem.

Rich Sorem presents a certificate to Smitty Khemalaap from Smitty’s Dot Golf, recognizing his support of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament.

Richard Kiely of Home Run Graphics, LLC, accepts a “Certificate of recognition for outstanding dedication and commitment to East Portland” from EPCC president Rich Sorem.

Special recognition presentations

Pam Olson, Farmers Insurance Agent presents to the EPCC staff managers, Mary Ann Gray and Teeneke Barresi of Westside Secretarial, Holiday-themed mementos.

The EPCC Gold Member Award, sponsored by Eastport Plaza, is presented to Adventist Health, and accepted by the organization’s Jillian Smith, of behalf of Judy Leach.

Outgoing chamber president roasted, awarded
Before Rich Sorem moves from the position of EPCC President to Board Chair, the organization couldn’t let him go without a brief roast, presented by Gary Russell of GoSmallBiz and Richard Kiely from Home Run Graphics.

Gary Russell roasts Rich Sorem at the Holiday Breakfast.

Here’s a sampling of Gary Russell’s remarks:

“Rich has been very active in our community. A lot of people don’t know this, but Rich served on Mayor Sam Adams’ financial advisory council. He was very excited to do that, until he got to the Council meeting and then realized that it was Mayor Sam Adams, not the brew, Samuel Adams.

“Rich is a native of Minnesota. We don’t hold that against him. He came out of Minnesota as their fair haired boy. City and Chamber committees, he’s become the fairly haired boy.

“I wouldn’t say that Rich is really a big drinker. But the Second City TV’s McKenzie Brothers did ask him if they would be a technical advisor for the movie …”

Taking time to roast his friend, Richard Kiely talks about Rich Sorem.

Richard Kiley also roasted and toasted Sorem:

“When I was asked to pay homage to my friend and our outgoing President, it reminded me of what we did for Mr. Frank Ryan. Who was so emotionally touched by our words he moved his entire family to Tacoma, Washington.

“I had mixed feelings about lampooning Rich’s character. After all, he is my closest friend, and I really try to do things that are more of a challenge than this. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. In retrospect, I really need to get out more.

“I’m proud to say that Rich and I are great friends; and friends borrow stuff. But I wonder, since he lives on a floating home, why did Rich borrow my lawn mower? And why does he still have it?

“Being from Minnesota, Rich takes great pride in his Scandinavian heritage. On the second week in January, at the rise of the full moon, you can see him and fellow Minnesota native Pete Lackener on Rich’s deck doing the annual ‘fish slapping dance’  while downing mass quantities St. Pauli Girl Ale and howling at the moon until the police show up around 11:30.

“I do wish to say thank you to Rich for his last two years as President of the EPCC. I must admit that as I watched Rich handle all the duties, meetings, and challenges of being president of an organization like this. I was amazed at his composure in difficult situations, his infinite patience when dealing with difficult people, and his amazing ability to laugh it all off. I thought to myself, ‘wow, what style, grace, and character this guy has, how does he deal with it all?’

“Then I found out he’s been the ‘customer of the month’ at the Jantzen beach liquor store for the last year and a half!

“In closing, I would like to honor Rich with a Scandinavian proverb:

“Byensen hooven doortsun / Fliben yeltsen leiderhoosen / Nyets, norden moosen velderbrutsen / Comfertan doggen sledden housen. Loosely translated, ‘Don’t get your britches in a bunch, we’re only down by two and we still have a moose to pack on a dogsled bound for home.’

“Wow, now those are words to live by!”

Clearly touched by the kind words of his friends, Rich Sorem takes a moment to compose himself while gazing on his Outgoing President award.

In response, Sorem told the group, “There were numerous references made to drinking. I take offense at that.

“No, not actually, just kidding.

“For people who are familiar with the Chamber, they know this is a great organization. We do business together. The most important thing for me is that we make friends. We have grown friendships with everybody here.

“The friendships are wonderful, and they are life-long. Thank you for your kind words; and Richard, your Norsk was wonderful.”

About the organization
The East Portland Chamber of Commerce is focused on giving its members the tools to grow their businesses, learn to be effective business leaders and be heard by local government officials.

Chamber hosts “Good Morning East Portland” networking meetings hosted by different chamber members each Wednesday morning from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. Meetings are free and guests are welcome. Visit the East Portland News COMMUNITY CALENDAR to find the location of upcoming meetings and events the Chamber hosts.

Other chamber activities include public affairs programs, educational seminars, ribbon-cuttings for new businesses, annual golf and bowling tournaments, social activities and opportunities for members to give back to their community. The chamber also keeps members updated through a weekly newsletter and an interactive web site: CLICK HERE to visit it, or follow the Chamber on TWITTER, or call the office at (503) 788-8589.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Comments are closed.

© 2005-2023 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.