The Valley Industry Association (VIA) held its annual bash with the theme “Fire and Ice” ball and presented awards to members of distinction and raised funds for Connecting to Success last week at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.
“This event is technically a fundraiser for our education program, Connecting to Success, that happens once a year. We’re expanding it so that it will be a yearlong experience for the students from the Hart district and maybe even at the college level,” said VIA President and CEO Kathy Norris. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity for us to offer some awards to some of our members of distinction, so we can recognize these folks who are doing wonderful things out in the community.”
VIA’s Connecting to Success works with high school students in the William S. Hart Union High School District. “Over 100 volunteer mentors from the business community lead students through role-playing, case studies, group discussions, and individual assessments to build workplace professionalism, and the ability to influence others as responsible adults,” states the program website.
The VIA Bash made its debut in 1999 and ever since serves as a tradition in which the organization can celebrate and raise funds for its educational program while simultaneously networking with local business leaders and enjoying a night of music and entertainment.
Every year VIA also awards its members of distinction in four award categories: Rising Star award, Business of the Year, VIA Community Impact award and the Connie Worden-Roberts Volunteer of the Year award.
The VIA Community Impact Award was given to the Santa Clarita Valley Boys and Girls Club for all the work that it does with the youth in the community.
“It’s a testament to our staff and our board and all the good work that they’re doing and … to all of our supporters and the mission of the club in the community to serve the youth who need us the most. It’s a great honor. A lot of great organizations were nominated so we’re very grateful to (have) received that recognition,” said Matt Nelson, CEO of the SCV Boys and Girls Club.
“It (the organization) makes a real impact, and it makes a real difference in the kid’s life. There is countless alumni who come back and tell us how the club saved their life and how the mentors, volunteers and employees here, have been there and were there, in critical times to help them in their adolescence and growing up,” Nelson said.
Nelson has been with the organization for two decades and at the CEO level for six years.
Kim Kurowski, a local business owner who specializes in balloon decorations for special events and is a longtime member of VIA, was awarded the Connie Worden-Roberts Volunteer of the Year award.
“I knew Connie when I first started (my) business 37 years ago. She’s always been my mentor as how far she used to get involved with the community. She was a good friend of mine … so this is more than just an honor to be awarded after her. She is someone to follow in the footsteps,” Kurowski said.
Worden-Roberts was an SCV resident who dedicated her life’s work to volunteering in numerous organizations throughout the valley. She was involved in organizations including the Boys & Girls Club governing board, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital speaker’s bureau, and the Hart district board of trustees. She died in 2014.
Attendees at the VIA bash witnessed a musical performance by Terrell Edwards as well as a vibrant and colorful performance by dancers in “fire and ice” themed costumes.
VIA Bash 2023 Award recipients were:
• Connie Worden-Roberts Volunteer of the Year Award: Kim Kurowski, A-1 Party.
• VIA Rising Star: Odom Law Group.
• VIA Business of the Year: Jersey Mike’s Subs.
• VIA Community Impact Award: SCV Boys & Girls Club.