CANANDAIGUA — Since 1960, the highest individual honor at the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner meeting was the Mr./Mrs./Ms. Canandaigua Award.
This year, the name of that award was changed to reflect a lifetime of good deeds. And, by all accounts, the selection of the very first Lifetime Achievement Award winner — presented Friday night at the chamber’s 110th annual dinner at Finger Lakes Community College — was a popular one.
Susanne Kennedy, a longtime community servant and volunteer, was awarded the traditional silver bowl that formerly went to the Mr./Mrs./Ms. Canandaigua winner.
“A mother of two and influencer of countless others … ” presenter and 2018 Mr. Canandaigua winner Jack Schuppenhaur said while introducing Kennedy. “I can think of nothing more pleasurable than to be able to introduce this year’s honoree, Susanne Kennedy.”
According to the chamber, the award goes to someone who has “demonstrated service to the greater community and its people, over and above what can be expected of one person, without expectation of financial gain.” The selection committee consists of previous recipients, sponsors and community members.
The evening turned especially poignant when Kennedy, who is suffering from Stage 4 bone cancer, accepted the award. She said she has been drawing strength in her health battle from “family and prayers, calls and visits.”
“My days of serving the community are over,” she said, “other than to be there for the many silent angels — and the not-so-silent ones — who are carrying on.”
Chamber Executive Director Ethan Fogg gently corrected her, saying, “Your days of inspiring us and serving the community are not over. That’s how legacy works. Your influence will never go anywhere but here.”
A partial listing of just some of the organizations Kennedy has been involved with include the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, the Thomson Health Guild, the “Scholars Need Dollars” Fashion Show, which raises money for FLCC and Keuka College students, and the FLCC Foundation. She also hosted fundraising events at her former home, the historic Millstone estate, for such organizations as the Hochstein School of Music, the Granger Homestead, the Rochester City Ballet and others.
“Congratulations, Sue. This is such a well-deserved award. Thank you for all the time and devotion you have given to so very many,” Jo Anne Alliet wrote on the chamber’s Facebook page. “It is wonderful to see this type of recognition that makes efforts such as those you have done heart warming.”
A crowd of about 250 people convened in FLCC’s main dining area for the event, which included other comments from representatives of major sponsors Lyons National Bank, Mengel Metzger and Barr, and the Pitti Group. Outgoing Board of Directors President Chris Hubler and incoming President Karen Dworaczyk addressed the crowd, as did Assemblyman Brian Kolb, new Canandaigua Mayor Bob Palumbo, and Canandaigua Town Supervisor Cathy Menikotz.
Fogg also recognized representatives from the two oldest members of the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust and Kennedy Family Corps., both of which joined the chamber in 1910.