Second Annual Best of Arden Awards

ARDEN-ARCADE, CA (MPG)  |  Story by Trina L. Drotar; Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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(L-R) front row: Deborah Murphy; Linda Aleman; Shaun Dillon; Jonathan Glatz; Jessica Fielding; Danielle Lawrence; Ashton Benge. (L-R) back row: Matthew Ceccato; Chris Brieno; Eric Benning; Baby Eleanor; Upen J Patel, DDS; Austin Schlocker.

ARDEN-ARCADE, CA (MPG) - The Greater Arden Chamber of Commerce’s Best of Arden awards kicked off at 6 p.m. with classic rock, soda, water, and what seemed to be a never-ending stream of pizza boxes. The room was abuzz with voices, laughter, and networking.

A handful of awards were presented with certificates from the offices of Congressman Ami Bera, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, and Senator Richard Pan. Some recipients had their hands more than full with the awards and certificates. Four business and two nonprofit categories received nominations from the community between July 1 and August 31. Two new categories for 2018 rewarded employees who received nominations from co-workers and management. Arden Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shaun Dillon hosted the event.

Locally owned and operated Express Employment Professionals received the Best Business (Large) award and was recognized a second time when Linda Aleman, staffing assistant for office services, received a Best Employee award.

Another twice-recognized business was Benning Design Construction which received the Best Business (Medium) award and the firm’s estimator, Ashton Benge, was given the Best Employee award. “A great team player who never comes to work in a bad mood,” said Dillon. Even baby Eleanor was excited about the Best Business award.

The Best Business (Small) recipient was Upen J. Patel, DDS. Dillon spoke about Patel’s giving back to the community and said that he is expanding his office. New York Life agent Austin Schlocker took home the Best Business (Independent) award.

Danielle Lawrence of Mutual Assistance Network accepted the award for Best Nonprofit (Community) which meets at the Arcade Community Center the third Tuesday each month and works to improve Arden Arcade and provide networking opportunities.

The Best Nonprofit (Youth) went to Sheriff’s Community Impact Program (SACSCIP). Jessica Fielding, the organization’s director, spoke about the boxing mentoring program and youth leadership programs and said that Arden Arcade “has the highest rates of drug and alcohol use in all of Sacramento County,” which is why the Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Arden Arcade (a program of SACSCIP) has initiatives and programs focusing on reducing youth alcohol and drug use.

Fielding also introduced the Responsible Alcohol Merchant Awards (RAMA) program.

“Students are actually trained in prevention. They go into stores and they actually interview the manager or somebody on site. They survey the store and they really encourage best practices to be implemented.” Best practices include not keeping the alcohol next to toys or the front door, she explained. “The biggest goal is to support healthy businesses.”

Each youth associated with the two year old program joined Fielding. Students, she said, check signage to make sure that the windows aren’t covered “so you can’t see what’s going on in the store.” They also check for on-site security and loitering. Most, but not all, students are from Arden Arcade high schools.

Josselyn Cardenas, a senior at Valley High School said, “I come all the way from Elk Grove every single week just to be part of this coalition.” Being part of the coalition, she said, was eye opening. “There are some stores that are implementing regulations, rules, and standards to reduce the youth access to alcohol.” She was sad that other stores didn’t seem to care. “It was a very good experience for me.”

Mya Worko, a recent graduate of Encina Preparatory High School and current student at Sacramento City College, presented a spoken word piece she created about her experience in the program.

A short video highlighted the program. “We want to reward a few of our stores,” said Fielding. “We do have some amazing stores. Specifically 7-Eleven that has been so proactive and has always welcomed our students.”

Representatives from 7-Eleven stores on Howe Avenue, Arden Way, Fulton Avenue, and Marconi Avenue received awards. Fielding congratulated the stores on “doing a great job to protect the Arden Arcade community.” Each store received a plaque to display in the store. Rite Aid on Watt Avenue will have its award delivered. Each student was also awarded a certificate.

 “Our goal is to build positive relationships with the merchant owners.”  For additional information, visit: