Announcing the 2022 Excellence in La Verne Awards Recipients

The Selection Committee, composed of last year’s Excellence in La Verne Award recipients, has met and chosen the 2022 honorees! Please congratulate:

California Pest Management was established to bring alternative control programs for pests other than traditional spray-first programs. Jim started the business during the financial crisis of 2008, but the company thrived and grew. 
 
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, CPM adapted to provide treatments and sanitizing to most areas, providing a financial bridge to 2021 when things started to open again. Throughout the pandemic, CPM has kept all of its employees on paid full-time wages, even when the ownership went without. In the fall of 2020, CPM actually added another position due to growth. For 2021, it anticipated 45%growth over 2020 and 24% over 2019 revenue.
 
CPM has not forgotten the companies and people that helped it get to the level it is at today. It provides service to Haynes Family of Programs, David & Margaret Youth and Family Services, and McKinley at material cost only. The company’s time on site is donated, as is tree and weed work. CPM provides service to first responders through free service to all three La Verne fire stations and the city’s police department. And when LVPD acquired its first canine officer, Dino, CPM made sure he was protected through the purchase of a ballistic vest for him.
 
CPM’s first employee started in 2012 and still provides an example for other employees. The company’s vehicle wraps for marketing were among the first in the industry and set the standard. Other marketing efforts include motorsports sponsorships of NASCAR teams, most notably La Verne native Jeff Arend and the Russo Team, plus Tim Wilkerson and the LRS Mustang Top Fuel Funny Car in the NHRA. In 2021 CPM sponsored Wilkerson in July along with Alex Miladonovich, both NHRA Top Fuel Funny Cars. CPM was able to bring an ABC Channel 7 news crew to interview both drivers AND CPM to show how the event benefits La Verne businesses.
 
Within the industry, Jim Harmon represents CPM as vice chair of the San Gabriel Valley District of the Pest Control Operators of California.
  • New Business of the Year – Nicole Vuong, State Farm Insurance Agent
Nicole has been a licensed insurance professional in California since 2003 and has been with State Farm for more than 15 years. When she opened her own agency as a State Farm independent contracted agent, she chose La Verne. Throughout the pandemic, she continued to employ a team of four without access to any government grant, loan or PPP.
 
There is not much in the way of social gatherings or community events that she can host in her small office, so instead she provided support to the community by bringing lunch (take-outs from local restaurants) to the La Verne fire and police departments and local hospitals. She and her team also choose a local business or shop to patronize at least once a month as a way of giving back to the community.
 
In her first 10 months in business, she received the State Farm Senior Vice President and Ambassador Award, based on the number of new customers and policies acquired in the short time frame.
Established in 2005, Sowing Seeds for Life began providing food security services in 2007, shortly prior to the economic downturn of 2008. Its first pantry served around 100 clients but quickly grew to serve 4,000 people a month. 
 
It was always the organization’s goal to offer services that did not duplicate other food pantries so it set up its program in a Farmers Market format for distribution so that it was an inviting environment, a place where someone wanted to visit, free from the stigma of hunger. 
 
In 2007, it set up a special area of the pantry for children, that offered educational play time. In 2014, it launched a special pantry for seniors, that is a peer-to-peer operation and staffed by volunteers who were also senior. The camaraderie of this service helped to make this pantry successful beyond our dreams and has served thousands of income sensitive older community residents. 
 
2015, pantries were opened in neighboring communities, and two years later, it began a Mobile Food Pantry to bring food to college students of Cal Poly Pomona and in 2018 Mt San Antonio. In 2018, Sowing Seeds expanded the services of the Mobile Food Pantry to include food delivery services to many local low- income senior living facilities. 
 
Prior to Covid-19 all programs combined it was serving close to 8,000 people a month. In March when the information of the virus looked as if people would be in serious need, it began packing to go food bags and started to serve in a drive through format in La Verne. That single pantry served close to 1,000 cars and over 7,000 people. 
 
In 2020 it moved its food and goods distributions to the Fairplex to better address the COVID-related needs. By the end of 2021 it will have served over 200,000 people - almost double the number of clients usually served in a single year. 

 
  • Family-Owned Business of the Year – Café Wang
Café Wang offers American-Chinese food, Chinese fusion dishes, authentic Sichuan and Hunan dishes, and has an extensive tea and drink menu. While they bloom in the Old Town environment, they partnered with the nearby University of La Verne to provide discounted meals for new students’ orientation at Diner Crawl.
 
Café Wang also actively engages in the community by participating in the city’s trick-or-treat walk, as well as in Taste of La Verne and Small Business Saturday. They generously contribute gift cards to City of Hope and Children’s Hospital raffles, plus gift cards to San Dimas/La Verne Teacher of the Year honorees.


  “What makes Hillcrest standout amongst its peers is the strong bond and sense of community that is shared between residents and associates. Hillcrest residents and associates truly care about one another,” the nomination letter says.
 
Through the Residents’ Association, Hillcrest residents are given the opportunity to show their gratitude for the service and care they have received throughout the year by donating to the Associate Holiday Fund. This year, more money was raised by residents, and given to associates, than at any other time in Hillcrest’s history. This generosity demonstrates that associates are valued by residents and has been a huge moral boost for associates during this difficult holiday season. 
 
Residents and associates also volunteer side-by-side at several fundraising events throughout the year. One example is the Hillcrest Country Fair. Proceeds from this event go to the Good Samaritan Fund. This fund is used to provide charity care enabling low-income seniors from outside the Hillcrest community the opportunity to receive high quality skilled nursing at Hillcrest. 
 
Employees of Hillcrest have access, at no cost, to the Aquatic and Fitness Center’s pool, weight and cardio rooms, and exercise classes. Spiritually, associates have the support of Hillcrest’s Chaplain. Hillcrest employees also have access to an employee assistance program. Financial literacy programs are also available. Associates who are experiencing financial hardships can receive help through the Associate Emergency Fund. The Emergency Fund is funded primarily through voluntary payroll deductions. A powerful example of associates caring for one another. 
 
Hillcrest is a strong believer in continuing education and professional development. Hillcrest’s healthcare workers have access to continuing education; Hillcrest also has a long-standing relationship with the University of La Verne through a program enables full-time employees, who are attending ULV as full-time students, obtain a significant reduction on tuition fees. 
 The Ambassador of the Year Award is  named for former Chamber Director Brian McNerney, and is selected by a point system and vote by the Ambassador Committee. 

La Verne Chamber of Commerce

2332 D Street, Unit E

La Verne, CA 91750

(909) 593-5265

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