Chamber awards honor businesses and individuals

Two businesses and three individuals received awards presented by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in recognition of community service.

Knowles Enterprises was honored as the large business of the year, while the Trophy Case was named small business of the year.

Susan Alvillar was honored as the citizen of the year, while Christy Whitney was recognized as a community visionary. Heather Benjamin was selected as the young professional of the year.

Knowles Enterprises has grown over the past decade into a transportation company that employs 200 people in serving the energy industry in Western Colorado as well as Texas.

In addition to its economic contributions, Knowles Enterprises supports youth sports and education, including a $12,000 donation to purchase laptop computers at Orchard Avenue Elementary School in Grand Junction.

  The Trophy Case offers services and support for youth baseball, basketball and soccer teams as well as other customers. The business often donates in-kind services to support worthy causes.

Alvillar works as a community affairs representative with WPX Energy, but is involved in a variety of other groups. Alvillar has served for two years as president of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association. She also serves on the energy and economic development committee of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and the St. Mary’s Foundation board. A life-long member of the Girls Scouts, she was founding chairwoman of the Women of Distinction Awards.

Whitney works as chief executive officer of HopeWest, an organization she founded to provide hospice and palliative care services in a six-county area of Western Colorado. Over the past 20 years, the organization has grown to employ more than 300 people in addition to a corps of 1,400 volunteers. HopeWest also operates an in-patient care center in Grand Junction, the only one of its kind between Denver and Salt Lake City.

Benjamin works as communications manager and public information officer for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to joining the sheriff’s office in 2007, she worked as area director of the Western Slope office for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard. Benjamin also has served as chairwoman and vice-chairwoman of the Mesa County Communications Officers Association is a published writer and photographer.