The recepients of the 2020 Chamber of Commerce First Citizen and other awards is a demonstration that Keizer is home to generous, unselfish personalities. Each year the Chamber bestows honors on those in the community who have shown a bottomless well of good works and caring for their city.
This year's list of honorees is a deserving addition to past winners, stretching back to 1959.
Keizer's 2020 First Citizen is Kim Freeman. Freeman served two terms on the Keizer City Council for two terms. Her demeanor and work there would have been sufficient to win an award, but it is her volunteer work throughout the community that is the heart of Freeman's impact.
From The Big Toy project at Keizer Rapids Park to on-the-ground volunteering at Gubser's Miracle of Lights food collection station to the Keizer Network of Women's (KNOW) Christmas Giving Basket program, Freeman has been front and center when Keizerites were in need.
Freeman's compassion for those who need a helping hand has been evident in every aspect of her volunteering and her career as homeowner section manager with the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department.
Many Keizer citizens know Freeman as a city councilor. The lucky ones know her as a woman who will help whomever and wherever there is need.
Also honored with the Keizer Chamber's 2020 awards were Jonathan Thompson as Merchant of the Year. Thompson, chief financial officer for Northwest Dental Arts, is serving as past president of the board of the Chamber.
Thompson's unwavering boosterism of Keizer business is deservedly recognized. His work with the Chamber's Government Affairs Committee has led him to speak before the state legislature and other government bodies. Thompson's work on Keizer's economic development alone should garner accolades.
In a world turned upside down by COVID, especially in our schools, McNary High School choir teacher Josh Rist did not let a pandemic throw him a curve when it came to staying connected with students and keeping his program robust without in-person teaching.
Rist was honored with the Service to Education Award.
The Zoom production of his students—at home—filming their version of Smile brought tears to cheeks all around town. It was beautiful moment at a time when Keizer needed it.
Each year the head of the Chamber's board presents the President's Award to a person who has exhibited stellar service to the Keizer Chamber of Commerce.
Jason Lewis of Lewis Media Group was presented the award for his contributions to the media needs of, not only the Chamber, but the community, too.
An expert in the field of media production, Lewis helped the Chamber navigate its communications during a time of little in-person interactions.
We congratulate all the deserving honorees and hold them as role models for other volunteers.