Marco Island's holiday honors: Abounader, Dohm, Savage recognized for community contributions

Dania Maxwell/Staff 
 George Abounader gives an acceptance speech after being awarded the 2013 Marco Island Citizen of the Year award during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff George Abounader gives an acceptance speech after being awarded the 2013 Marco Island Citizen of the Year award during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

Dania Maxwell/Staff 
 George Abounader gives an acceptance speech after being awarded the 2013 Marco Island Citizen of the Year award during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff George Abounader gives an acceptance speech after being awarded the 2013 Marco Island Citizen of the Year award during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

Dania Maxwell/Staff 
 Dianne Dohm, left, is reacts after being awarded the 2013 Marco Island Volunteer of the Year award during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff Dianne Dohm, left, is reacts after being awarded the 2013 Marco Island Volunteer of the Year award during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

Dania Maxwell/Staff 
 Herb Savage is honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and receives a painting made for him during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff Herb Savage is honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and receives a painting made for him during the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at Bistro Soliel in Marco Island. This is the 26th year for the event.

— It was a festive, exuberant evening at Bistro Soleil Sunday as three of Marco Island’s notable citizens were honored for making their community a better place.

In ceremonies during the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Gala, the Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards were given.

George Abounader, principal of the Marco Island Charter Middle School, became the first educator named Citizen of the Year. Recipients have been chosen and awarded by the Naples Daily News since 1992. Manny Garcia, Naples Daily News editor, presented the award.

Abounader became the charter school’s principal in 1999. Since then, the school has maintained an A rating on Florida’s School Accountability Report.

Abounader was praised for his work, taking the charter middle school from 200 students and 14 portable classrooms to an enrollment of 400 and a 69,000-square-foot education center.

He was applauded for his willingness to take part in community activities, helping in any capacity needed, and honored for his participation on island boards and committees.

“This award has a long and esteemed history,” said Garcia as he presented the award and expressed his pride in honoring a person of Abounader’s caliber.

Abounader completed the Leadership Marco program, served on the City of Marco Island’s Parks and Recreation Committee, Teen Task Force, and Blue Ribbon Committee on Teens.

He has served on the Department of Justice’s Neighborhood Accountability Board for Marco Island. He was president of the Marco Island Noontime Rotary Club and is on its board of directors.

“When you ask George what drives him in his life, he will tell you it is his love for people,” said Allyson Richards of the nomination. “It’s evident especially when you watch him interact with children. He lights up as much as the children do. His efforts have made this a better place to live.”

Dianna Dohm, who works for Mutual of Omaha Bank, was named Marco Island’s Volunteer of the Year. TJ Boone, manager of the Marco Eagle presented the award.

Before moving to Marco Island in 2000, Dohm served as vice president of 17 branch banks during her 30-year career in financial services in Chicago.

Dohm is president of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation Board, a member of the Marco Island chamber’s Business Alliance, a director for the Marco Island Seafood Festival Committee and a member of the City of Marco Island’s Beautification Advisory Board.

She is chairwoman of Avow Hospice’s Community Advisory Board and a board member of the Marco Island Civic Association. She also serves as public relations director for Bedtime Bundles.

She will serve as president of the Marco Island Kiwanis in 2014.

Receiving the award, Dohm spoke of her love for living on Marco Island and her appreciation for the opportunities it has given her for service.

Herb Savage received the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Savage is an icon on Marco Island and was a leading architect with the Mackle brothers who developed the island. The award was presented by last year’s recipient, Tarik Ayasun.

Savage was welcomed to the podium while the audience sang, “God Bless America,” a hallmark of his love of country and an expression of the fondness and respect the community shows him.

Savage has forwarded Veterans’ causes on the island. He also has been a brain trust of its history and a champion of its school children.

“The honor is all ours to pay tribute to Herb, who will celebrate his 95th birthday in January,” said Dick Shanahan, a past Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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