Aptos Chamber celebrates award recipients

Attendees bid on items during the Aptos Chamber of Commerce's annual awards dinner on Oct. 26 at the Seascape Beach Resort. Photos by Erik Chalhoub

The Aptos Chamber of Commerce celebrated the recipients of its annual awards during a dinner at Seascape Beach Resort on Oct. 26.

The recipients were Woman of the Year Michele Bassi, Man of the Year Dan Haifley, Business of the Year Seascape Village Fitness, Organization of the Year Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Community Hero Aptos Feed and Pet Supply and Mark Dorfman, who received Outstanding Achievement.

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Woman of the Year: Michele Bassi

Michele Bassi is senior vice president of production and business development at Lighthouse Bank and has more than 26 years of banking experience.

She is currently president of the board at Digital NEST, which assists youth in learning technology to obtain well-paying jobs.

Working with Capitola-Aptos Rotary, she has managed major fundraisers over the past two years, generating $150,000 for LEO's Haven (including county match), $30,000 for Meals on Wheels and $18,000 for local nonprofits.

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Man of the Year: Dan Haifley

Dan Haifley has a long history of advocating for the protection of the ocean.

He helped establish Save Our Shores in 1978 and became executive director in 1986. He was also an instrumental player in establishing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, working to get communities to pass ordinances that prevented offshore oil drilling companies from building processing facilities along the coast.

He is retiring in December after nearly 20 years as executive director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey, a nonprofit that gives fourth-sixth grade students hands-on lessons about Monterey Bay marine life.

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Business of the Year: Seascape Village Fitness

Jim and Kathy Tucker have more than 50 years combined experience in health care. Jim is a Certified Orthopedic Physical Therapist and Kathy is a retired RN; together they own Seascape Physical Therapy and Village Fitness Center.

At Village Fitness they offer private, semi-private, and group training and emphasize safe, sensible and  sustainable exercise programs.

"We love our community, and we feel it is our job to give back to them," Kathy Tucker said.

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Organization of the Year: Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Vista Center’s mission is to empower individuals who are blind or visually impaired to embrace life to the fullest through evaluation, counseling, education and training.

Vista Center was originally established in Santa Cruz County as the Doran Center for the Blind by Ray Westman in the late 1970s. Doran Center merged with the Peninsula Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2005, and the two organizations became Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Vista Center Santa Cruz continues its 40-year commitment to people who are blind or visually impaired in the community, and today is a regional, one-stop resource providing a comprehensive range of services to help people who are blind or visually impaired learn new skills and strategies to overcome the emotional impact of sight loss and remain independent, employed and mobile.

“We are honored to be recognized by the Aptos Chamber of Commerce for the impact we are making in people’s lives,” said Christy Tall, Vista Center Santa Cruz branch manager. “We are excited about the growth in services we are providing, and the direction our organization is taking. We are building a community where people can feel empowered and motivated to keep doing the things they enjoy and love.”

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Outstanding Achievement: Mark Dorfman

Mark Dorfman has served as the athletic director at Aptos High School for 27 years.

Students past and present mention his dedication, compassion for all athletes regardless of their on-the-field contribution; his commitment for high achievement in the classroom, and the long hours he dedicates to Aptos High School.

"I'm very, very honored," Dorfman said. "I never expected this. The praise should go to our student athletes and coaches, not me."

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Community Hero: Aptos Feed and Pet Supply

Aptos Feed and Pet Supply is a family-owned store that is a frequent supporter of animal rescues, shelters and community events.

"Aptos is a pretty fantastic place to do business in," said owner Damian Delezene. "I hope to continue serving for many more years."


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