The Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce announced its Citizens of the Year, as well as the winners of its annual Ken Talley and Director’s awards.
Arroyo Grande Citizen of the Year — Greg Steinberger, Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab
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Doc Burnstein’s founder Greg Steinberger was chosen as the Arroyo Grande Citizen of the Year for “his generous contributions to the community,” including monthly blood drives and fundraisers for local nonprofits at Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab in the Village, according to a news release. The company also has a 10 percent giving back pledge, which goes to local nonprofits and charities, and a scholarship day that supports college-bound employees.
In 2016, the company partnered with Lifewater International to raise money for wells in Ethiopia that will help provide clean drinking water to 500 families. In 2017, it worked with Lifewater to provide 2,000 schoolchildren with a bathroom that has running water, according to the release.
Additionally, Doc Burnstein’s has created a custom flavor for the past three summers that benefits The Make a Wish Foundation.
Grover Beach Citizen of the Year — Betsy Ehrler, People’s Kitchen
Betsy Ehrler, president of South County People’s Kitchen, was chosen as the Grover Beach Citizen of the Year for her 26 years of dedication to helping the homeless, according to the release.
Ehrler began helping with the People’s Kitchen in Grover Beach in 1992. The organization, which provides a hot daily meal to the area’s homeless, was originally founded by a group from New Life Church in Pismo Beach.
The People’s Kitchen has 18 local churches on rotation that help provide food and volunteers to serve 50 to 100 homeless people each day at lunchtime.
Additionally, Ehrler and her husband, Chris, travel to an orphanage in Guatemala to assist in providing Christmas gifts each December.
The Ehrlers have lived in South County since 1976 and have raised two sons.
Ken Talley Award — Matt Neff, Neff and Associates Insurance
The chamber gave the Ken Talley Award for exemplary service to youths in South County to Matt Neff for his 24 years as a volunteer referee with Five Cities Youth Basketball, 17 years on that organization’s board and eight years as a basketball coach for Nipomo High School. Neff has also coached at the Arroyo Grande Valley Little League and Five Cities Flag Football League.
Through the years, Neff has been a supporter and sponsor of many youth-oriented programs in South County, including Five Cities Youth Football, Arroyo Grande High School FFA, Arroyo Grande High School basketball, Arroyo Grande High School baseball and softball, Arroyo Grande High School band, Boys and Girls Club of South County and Arroyo Grande High School Key Club.
The award comes with a $1,000 grant from the Talley family to go to an organization of Neff’s choice.
Director’s Award — Katcho Achadjian
Katcho Achadjian was chosen by the Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to receive the 2018 Director’s Award. It is given to someone who has given outstanding time and energy to chamber programs and projects, according to the release.
Achadjian was the Arroyo Grande Citizen of the Year in 1984; he has served on the Board of Directors and has been “a tireless advocate for businesses in South County,” according to the release.
Achadjian has previously served as District 4 San Luis Obispo County Supervisor and State Assemblyman for Assembly District 35. A chamber member since 1978, Achadjian also has three gas stations in Arroyo Grande.
The awards will be presented at the AGGB Chamber’s Annual Installation Dinner on Feb. 1 at the South County Regional Center, 800 West Branch St. in Arroyo Grande. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the chamber at 805-489-1488. The dinner is $65 per person.
Correction: This story has been updated to include the correct number of gas stations owned by Achadjian. It is three.