BOARDMAN - After growing up as a poor boy on the west side of Warren, the president of a $102 million Girard company knows first-hand the importance of making your own destiny.
Chris Jaskiewicz told an audience of nearly 500 area business and community leaders on Thursday that, as a teenager, he had held the belief that people are a product of their environment.
"I used that as an excuse for the way I was living my life at that time," Jaskiewicz said. "I realize now I was wrong. We are not a product of our environment. We create our environment by our thoughts and by our hearts. We get the chance to choose whether every setback, challenge or adversity strengthens us or weakens us."
Jaskiewicz, who worked his way up at VEC Inc. to now serve as president and Chief Operations Officer, was among the recipients of four awards given by the Regional Chamber to community leaders who have made a difference in the community. He was given the Spirit of Excellence Award.
The luncheon event, held at Mr. Anthony's Banquet Center in Boardman, also marked the Chamber's 20th anniversary of existence.
"We are well on our way in the right direction," said chamber President and CEO Tom Humphries, following a slide show presentation recapping the organization's last two decades.
Robert Shroder, president and CEO of Humility of Mary Health Partners, was honored with the William G. Lyden Jr. Spirit of the Valley Award. Shroder, who has been with Humility of Mary for about two decades, called the decision to move here the best decision he ever made.
Shroder, who was out of town at a national health care convention, spoke by video.
"When I moved here, I heard a lot of jokes about the Youngstown area," Shroder said. "Have you noticed those have stopped? Youngstown pride is back."
Trumbull County Commissioners Frank Fuda, Dan Polivka and Paul Heltzel were awarded the Chairman's Political Achievement Award.
They were chosen, officials said, because of their work to create efficiencies in county government, like consolidating four of eight 911 dispatch centers and support of county Engineer Randy Smith's efforts to share services and materials with other governmental entities in the county. They also were chosen for the leadership in support for the oil and gas industry, chamber officials said.
Sylvester J. Frazzini III, general manager and vice president of the American Business Center, Inc., was honored with the Donald Cagigas Spirit of the Chamber Award.