(Posted March 30, 2022)
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Madison County Chamber of Commerce returned to holding its annual meeting in-person. The highlight of the event, which took place on March 24 at the London Country Club, was the announcement of the 2022 Bell Ringer Award winner.
The award, which honors a person who truly cares about the community and strives to make it better, went to London resident Amy Rees.
Born and raised in Madison County, Rees is a graduate of London High School. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio University, where she met her husband, Matt. They later moved back to Madison County to start a family. Even though she was busy raising two boys, Rees always would take time to help others and community groups.
In her professional career, Rees worked for multiple non-profit agencies, including United Way-Madison County and the Madison Health Foundation. From there, she began to get more involved on the volunteer side by serving on multiple not-for-profit boards that focus on the betterment of the county. Besides sitting on these boards, she is a person who can be called upon by any group to lend a hand when in need.
“Amy Rees is a staple in our community that you will see helping out at many events,” said Steve Lelonek, a Chamber board member and past Bell Ringer winner, during the award presentation ceremony.
Rees is first vice president of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce board, a chairperson for the London Rhythm & Rib Fest, a founding member and president of the London Community Organization, and past secretary of the Downtown London Association. She is employed as the executive assistant to the administrative offices of the city of London and serves as London city council clerk.
She also was the founding member and a driving force behind Access Cowling. Access Cowling was a group that raised more than $500,000, publicly and privately, to bring an all-inclusive playground, ninja course and walking paths to Cowling Park in London. The project came together to memorialize a child who passed away and started as a $20,000 project.
“Rees drove this committee to aim high and raise the larger amount of money to be able to bring this playground which serves people from all over the area. It has become a destination point for many families,” Lelonek said.
The project has inspired other nearby communities, including West Jefferson and Mount Sterling, to start the process to build their own all-inclusive parks.
“Amy’s service to the community and love she has for the county is second to none,” Lelonek said. “She is a kind woman who can make people feel welcome in any setting. Amy has dedicated herself to Madison County while unselfishly giving her time, efforts and resources for the betterment of the community.”
In addition to the Bell Ringer Award, the Chamber honors several other individuals, groups, and businesses at its annual meeting.
This year’s Retail/Service Award went to Mabe’s Clothing & Athletic Apparel, a London business that celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. Owner Dave Mabe accepted the award. Dave’s father was one of the Chamber’s founding members. Mabe’s works frequently with London City Schools, offering items for the Raider Rack, a service that offers free clothing to students in need. Mabe’s also offers discounts to customers who donate to the Raider Rack.
The 2022 Industrial Award went to Medline Industries, which constructed and began operating a medical products distribution center in West Jefferson in 2020. Over the last year, the company has hired approximately 475 team members. Medline has made every effort to hire locally and use local vendors for building upkeep and maintenance. Additionally, the company donated thousands of face masks and hundreds of cases of hand sanitizer to local entities.
This year’s Non-Profit Award went to the Madison County Senior Center, which has been serving seniors in Madison County since 1976. The center’s mission is to encourage, foster and develop opportunities for senior citizens through education, recreation, respite, nutrition, adult care services and assistance in independent living. The center works with several local organizations to fulfill that mission, including Madson County Ride, Madison County Job & Family Services, local home health agencies, Community Action, the Veterans Administration, and local assisted living facilities. The center also uses local businesses to help seniors with such needs as home repairs, appliance replacement, and health equipment needs.