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Bethany group, Erickson garner Chamber awards
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

March 29. 2013 9:05AM
A local business that invested more than $10 million in new facilities last year and a 10-year volunteer garnered “Business of the Year” and “Volunteer of the Year” awards at the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet last week.

Bethany Meadows/Bethany Home-Brandon and Cheryl Erickson are the respective recipients of those honors.

The Business of the Year award is given annually to a business and/or organization who made significant strides over the last year to improve the quality and success of their organization and the Brandon community.

“This year’s winner has definitely done both by expanding their business, and offering more services that were previously not available in Brandon,” said Chamber member Paul VanDeBerg, who nominated the Bethany organization.

VanDeBerg cited Bethany’s conscious effort to “Buy Brandon” for its $10 million project that has resulted in the city’s very first skilled nursing home.

Speaking on behalf of the Bethany organization, CEO Dennis Sever was delighted by the honor.

“This means a lot to our organization to be recognized,” Sever said. “All of the nice things that Paul said is true: we do care for the most fragile citizens.”

Since Bethany’s arrival in Brandon in 2003, Sever said the community has continued to welcome them with open arms.

“This is a great Chamber and community to be a part of,” he said. “And we have a nice facility, but what makes our organization so strong is the people who care for our residents day to day.”

Erickson has been a long-standing volunteer for the BVACC, serving as the chairwoman of the Chamber’s fundraising committee, which has been responsible for events such as the Auction Amore and Brandon Expo.

Erickson, like Sever, was surprised by the honor.

“I’m honored that the Chamber elected me for this,” she said. “I’m the one that benefits and encourage everybody to get involved.”

The evening also featured keynote speaker Holly Hoffman, a South Dakota woman who competed in season 21 of the CBS reality show, “Survivor.” Hoffman’s talk was informative, entertaining and inspiring, as the Eureka woman compared her 38-day experience in Nicaragua to that of everyday life.
Hoffman offered a variety of inspiring messages in her presentation, such as, “Trying is not failure. Failure is not falling down, failure is staying down,” to “A setback is a setup for a comeback with determination,” to “It’s not how you walk onto the playing field, it’s how you walk off.”

Hoffman lasted 38 of the 39 days on the island and was one of the last three Survivors. While she wasn’t crowed the show’s winner, she took something even more valuable away for the experience.

“I wasn’t one day short,” Hoffman tells. “I was 38 days long because of what I brought back from this experience has changed my life forever.”

Bethany Meadows/Bethany Home-Brandon was selected as the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Year. Pictured are, from left: Tom Wullstein, BVACC board vice president, Paul VanDeBerg. BVACC Executive Director Kim Cerwick, Jim Vorthems, president of Bethany board of directors, Bethany staff Dennis Sever (CEO), Trevor Guthmiller (director of development), Carmen Dougherty (admissions and marketing director) and Jane Gulickson (administrator). Photo by Jill Meier

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