Chamber salutes county’s best for 2002

True volunteers are people who toil behind the scenes without
expecting anything in return. But their efforts do not go unnoticed
by the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce, which recognized the
best of San Benito County Saturday night.
More than 300 people attended the chamber’s 82nd annual dinner
dance Saturday at San Juan Oaks Golf Club to honor the man and
woman of the year, Gary Goularte and Dee Hone.
True volunteers are people who toil behind the scenes without expecting anything in return. But their efforts do not go unnoticed by the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce, which recognized the best of San Benito County Saturday night.

More than 300 people attended the chamber’s 82nd annual dinner dance Saturday at San Juan Oaks Golf Club to honor the man and woman of the year, Gary Goularte and Dee Hone.

Hone received a standing ovation as she made her way to the podium. She said she was humbled by the award and that she was speechless.

“It’s not too often I don’t have anything to say,” Hone laughed.

She said the county is a wonderful place to call home and that doing something positive for the community gives her personal satisfaction.

Hone was shocked when she learned she’d been selected the chamber’s woman of the year.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Who, me?'” she said. “There are so many other people that do a lot of the work. I don’t think I’m doing anything special.”

Her husband, Wayne, beamed as she accepted the award.

“I’m really happy for her because she deserved it,” he said. “She gives so much of her time to the community.”

Hone wasted no time when she came to San Benito County 12 years ago. She walked into the chamber office, introduced herself and offered her services.

“Put me to work,” she said. “I was ready.”

Hone volunteers with several non-profit community organizations, all of which have benefited from her fundraising talents, which allowed the groups to continue providing services to many citizens in the community.

Hone’s passion is the San Benito County United Way, which raised $120,000 in its 2002 campaign – the highest amount ever.

Goularte, as surprised as Hone and equally welcomed, expressed his appreciation for those who made it possible for him to do his job.

At first, he said, he thought someone was pulling his leg.

“When they told me that it was true, that I was picked, I got goose bumps,” Goularte said. “I couldn’t believe they put me in the same group of people that I think are incredible.”

Goularte, a county native, was forced into early retirement as a Hollister Police officer by an injury. But his “can do” attitude has helped many county youth organizations, from the transformation of San Benito High School’s Baler Boosters into a nonprofit group to the design of the concession stand for the Hollister Pop Warner Football program.

“I really enjoy working with the kids,” Goularte said.

He solicited $5,000 from the Hollister Exchange Club to build a mobile kitchen that’s used at school events and in the event of a community disaster. Currently, he is producing the second annual SBHS picture yearbook on compact disk, with profits benefiting the school’s special education department.

“He is a hard-working guy and gives his best in any situation,” said City Councilman Tony LoBue, who was in high school when he met Goularte. “He really is a great guy and deserves this award.”

The chamber also recognized K&S Market, Inc. as its retail business of the year, Round Table Pizza as service business of the year and Pride of San Juan as agricultural business of the year.

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