Volunteers in Bowling Green’s business community who persevered during a year disrupted by a global pandemic were honored for their efforts Thursday.

The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, in a socially distanced ceremony at the chamber headquarters on College Street that was also shown via Facebook Live, presented the four volunteer awards given annually and added a fifth – the Everyday Hero Award – to recognize contributions made during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s important to reflect back on the year and honor someone who helped during the pandemic,” said Graves-Gilbert Clinic CEO Chris Thorn, the 2021 chairman of the chamber board of directors and emcee of Thursday’s event.

Thorn presented the Everyday Hero award to Charles Fortney, director of occupational health at Graves-Gilbert Clinic, for his efforts to help local businesses stay up-to-date about resources available during the pandemic.

A chamber news release said Fortney was instrumental in the chamber’s daily communications to its members that updated them on pandemic developments.

“I thank the chamber leadership, (President and CEO) Ron Bunch and (Chief Operating Officer) Meredith Rozanski,” Fortney said. “They have done an outstanding job. I’m proud to be a part of that.”

Fortney was one of five award winners Thursday.

Also honored were Ambassador of the Year Denise Mitchell, Chamber Volunteer of the Year Doug Gorman, Young Professional of the Year Beth Noffsinger and Board Volunteer of the Year Eric Walker.

Mitchell, with Village Manor and Christian Health Center, has been a member since 2015 of the Chamber Ambassadors Club, which reaches out to welcome new chamber members, and served as chair of the ambassadors in 2020.

“I love this community, and I love being on the front line as a cheerleader for the chamber,” Mitchell said. “This year has been a huge challenge. I’ve tried to be as positive as I can and give hope to the new businesses.”

Gorman, First District magistrate on Warren Fiscal Court and chairman of the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority, in 2020 ended a 21-year run as owner of Bowling Green’s Booth Fire & Safety.

In 2020, he served as emcee for the chamber’s Excellence Awards and Targeted Business and Industry Awards, helping ensure that those awards continued despite the pandemic.

“The chamber has been an important part of my life,” said Gorman, who joined Thursday’s event via video conference. “I need to thank one of my mentors, B.J. Booth, for telling me I had to be a part of the chamber.”

Noffsinger, communications director for the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been a member of the chamber’s Bowling Green Young Professionals group since 2018 and is part of the group’s leadership team.

Although 2020’s BGYP activity was largely limited to virtual meetings, Noffsinger said: “It (BGYP) is a great way to get involved in the community and give back to the community through volunteer service. I recommend it to anyone between the ages of 21 and 40.”

Walker, commercial team manager for US Bank’s South Central Kentucky Region, is a longtime member of the chamber board of directors and was chairman of the board in 2020.

“You need a successful chamber to have a successful community,” Walker said. “I’m proud to be a part of that. When the coronavirus hit, we had to pivot. I think we did a great job of doing that.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

​– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.