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Innovation, volunteerism saluted at Chamber’s annual meeting

By Rod Lee

Honors bestowed on Harry Berkowitz and Danielle Desrosiers at the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 41st annual meeting and awards ceremony at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton on November 26 served as affirmation of what a lot of people already knew. Which is that Mr. Berkowitz and Ms. Desrosiers are both luminaries in their respective fields of endeavor.

It is hard to even pinpoint exactly where Harry Berkowitz’s contributions to life in the town of Northbridge and the Blackstone Valley begin and end. He is that involved, from his many years helping decide the fate of various commercial and retail projects as a member of the local Planning Board to his work with Northbridge Community Television (NCTV)—and in various other capacities near and dear to his heart.

Now seventy-one years of age, he is not slowing down and doesn’t intend to. There are in fact few endeavors he is not willing to take on. One of these, as chairman of a Historic District Study Committee for a part of Whitinsville that will be included in the area’s designation as a National Park, for instance, has involved helping craft a route for the Blackstone Valley Bikeway.

As co-host of the Chamber’s radio show “About the Valley” on WCRN 830 AM and on NCTV and of “Town Talk” and “Days of Vinyl” on NCTV, he is a highly visible public presence.

How fitting it was then that Mr. Berkowitz was presented with the Chamber’s Gerry Gaudette Extra Mile Award by the late Mr. Gaudette’s son Lee Gaudette (who now heads up Gaudette Insurance). This particular award is one of the most prestigious the Chamber gives out in that it was established in memory of a man who was instrumental in the formation of the Chamber—and a staunch supporter of the organization from its earliest days.

In promoting the economic vitality of the region, Mr. Berkowitz exemplifies the same spirit that Gerry Gaudette brought to his insurance agency and to making the Blackstone Valley a good place to live and work.

He also epitomizes “my dad’s” commitment to community service and stewardship, an obviously proud Lee Gaudette said in handing the Gerry Gaudette Extra Mile Award to Mr. Berkowitz.

Ms. Derosiers, owner of The Green Plate on Church St. in Whitinsville, received one of the Chamber and the Venly Fellowship program’s 2019 John McArthur Community Commerce Innovation awards in recognition of her foresight in starting a restaurant with a focus on creative cuisine.

Also recognized as Community Commerce Innovations standouts were Homefield Credit Union (whose Daniel Crossen is just finishing up his tenure as chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors) and Lampin Corporation. The Chamber itself received Venly’s Mary S. Peake Community Commerce Innovation Award.

Danielle Derosiers, center, is pictured with co-workers Janey LaFleur, left, and Charlene Striver at The Green Plate. Ms. Desrosiers earned the Chamber and Venly’s 2019 John McArthur Community Commerce Innovation Award for her startup restaurant, which opened in Whitinsville just over two years ago.

The Green Plate has quickly achieved a reputation for wholesome, healthy (100% gluten-free) and delicious food. Its “build-a-bowl,” “heat-and-eat,” “catering” and “grab-and-go” components have become staples that customers appreciate and applaud.

Patrons of The Green Plate can eat in or take out.

In accepting the award, Ms. Desrosiers thanked Homefield Credit Union for providing “the resources that enable small businesses like mine to establish roots and grow. We went from home-cooked meals to brick-and-mortar!”

She pointed out in accepting the award that she hailed from a family that understood the importance of eating healthy. Reflecting on that statement in her cozy café-style restaurant on December 16th, she said “my grandfather had one-half acre of a garden.”

In acquiring a storefront for The Green Plate, Ms. Desrosiers said “having this space has allowed me to do so much more.”

Ms. Desrosiers’ hands-on approach and her restaurant’s friendly atmosphere have earned her a faithful following.

Addressing a room full of well-wishers at the start of the meeting with her year-in-review remarks, Chamber President and CEO Jeannie Hebert ticked off the ways the Chamber is meeting the needs of its members and the region. These are numerous. Evidence, she said, that the Chamber has proven itself to be the “go-to” vehicle for business growth and development in the Blackstone Valley.

The mornings other award winners were Fresenius Kidney Care (Cornerstone Award), Clear Vision Alliance LLC (Economic Development Award) and Premeer Realty (Community Leader Award).

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.