While recognizing the final honoree of the night at the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce's 25th annual Circle of Success Recognition Dinner on Thursday, Mayor Tom Rooney brought up a difficult time in his life to illustrate the character and integrity that so many of this year's recipients bring to the table.
His wife had died a few years earlier, and Rooney couldn't put off related financial transactions any longer. He said Rafal Piontkowski, manager at the BMO Harris Bank branch on Kirchoff Road, struck the perfect balance between compassion and professionalism.
"If you want to talk about business with heart, you can't get a better example," Rooney said.
Piontkowski, among seven individuals, groups and businesses to be honored, was named the chamber's Business Leader of the Year.
In addition to helping develop strong community partnerships with the city's Fourth of July parade and other local events, Piontkowski serves as vice president of finance for the chamber, board member of the Rolling Meadows Park District Foundation and treasurer of both the local Kiwanis Club and a Cub Scout pack.
Police Sgt. Tom Gadomski provided another example about the commitment to the community shown by another recipient. Business of the Year Body Builders Automotive transformed a military Humvee donated by the government to fit in, and yet stand out, among the department's fleet of vehicles.
"We knew we had to go to the specialist, someone who would see our vision and see and understand what we wanted to do," Gadomski said.
Don Wenzel, a 30-year Rolling Meadows resident and the chamber's Community Leader of the Year, started volunteering for the city in 1983 and became employed with the public works department five years later to the day.
Now the department's superintendent of facilities, Wenzel is known as the "king of special events" and is involved in the American Public Association Metro Chapter, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association, the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network, the Illinois Emergency Management Assistance Team and the Rotary Club.
He went to New York City for nearly three weeks after Hurricane Sandy and credited his family for being so supportive.
"If someone needs help, that's what I'm about," Wenzel said.
The other honorees included Chamber Volunteer of the Year Carol Grewe of Travel Network and Communications Partner Journal and Topics. Loving Care Animal Clinic won the Community Outreach Award, and the Rolling Meadows Environmental Committee won the Community Enhancement Award.
Barry Donalson, president of Momentum Marketing Group and a partner in the Muscle Maker Grill, gave a keynote speech on the true essence of leadership.