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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016 4 years ago

Sweet Spotlight: The West Orange Chamber's Big Orange Awards

The West Orange Chamber of Commerce will honor those who make a difference in the community Jan. 29 at its annual Big Orange Awards.
by: Jennifer Nesslar Reporter

WEST ORANGE The Big Orange Awards is the West Orange Chamber of Commerce’s way of honoring “the talents and contributions of our members and community partners that better our community,” said Stina D’Uva, chamber president.

About 300 people will attend this year’s event, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. 

The dinner event begins with a cocktail reception. Throughout the evening, various awards will be presented. In between each award, finalists for the Business Member of the Year award will be presented. Business Member of the Year will be the final award presented. During the event, a live auction supporting the chamber will take place. For entertainment, The Next Gen Jazztet, sponsored by the HapCo Music Foundation will perform. 



Carol Willard won this award for excelling in her profession and inspiring other women to do the same. Willard, the founder and president of the board for Children’s Lighthouse, has been a chamber member since 2008. She volunteers at Matthew’s Hope and People of Faith Lutheran Church. She is a graduate of Leadership West Orange and was formerly PTSA president at Olympia High School. 


Mike Armbruster will receive the George Bailey Award for his work to benefit the community through fostering partnerships. Armbruster has worked in Orange County Public Schools for 29 years, where he serves as senior executive director of career and technical education. He started his career with OCPS as a career and technical

education teacher at Westside Tech. He then served as assistant principal and then principal at West Orange High School. Armbruster opened Ocoee High School and served as principal there, until he completed his principal career at University High School. He has served in many other community organizations, including Winter Garden Art Association, West Orange Chamber of Commerce Education Sub-Committee, West Orange Chamber of Commerce Executive Board, West Orange Relay for Life and First United Methodist Church Mission Team.


Russ Salerno will receive this award, which is given to someone who ensures the bright future of West Orange

by investing the community and building relationships. Salerno is an entrepreneur who has owned many businesses, as well as a banker. He earned the Chamber’s Lifetime Director award in 2009 after serving on the board for several years. Salerno serves with Edgewood Children’s Ranch, as well as the West Orange Boys and Girls club, where he has been on the board for many years. The chamber says Salerno “generous to a fault.”


Larry Cappleman receives this award for standing “head and shoulders above the crowd” for contributions, service and leadership to the community. A chamber member for several years, Cappleman served as its chairman in 1995. In Cappleman’s career as an insurance industry expert, he worked with many businesses in

West Orange through Hillcrest Insurance. He retired in December. He supports many West Orange nonprofits, including the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation and the Rotary Club of Winter Garden. He was involved in the community redevelopment agency and Main Street Winter Garden, which began the revitalization of the downtown.


Apple Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. won this award because of its exceptional service to the chamber and the community. In the last year, the company was a Community Trustee of the Chamber and sponsored and attended chamber events. It also started programs in several West Orange schools. 


Dorcas Dillard wins Ambassador of the Year, which recognizes dedication and service to the chamber. Dillard is

development director of the Professional Opportunities Program for Students. She receives the award for her support of the nearly 100 ribbon cuttings and anniversaries attended by the Ambassadors. She is a constant presence at chamber events, where she is a positive influence, as well as a member of the board of directors.


Bread of Life Fellowship Inc. is awarded the Bert Roper Award, in recognition for improving the quality of life and well-being of the community. Bread of Life Fellowship Inc. picks up donated goods and distributes those items to Central Florida partner organizations, such as churches and community centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, assisted-living facilities and homeless shelters. The organization seeks to give hope to those in need.


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