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story.lead_photo.caption Attendees enjoy the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala Friday at Canterbury Hill Winery. The event had a Havana Nights theme and recognized three community members with awards. Photo provided by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce

Three community members were recognized for their service at the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce's annual gala.

The annual gala had a Havana Nights theme Friday at Canterbury Hill Winery and was attended by more than 400 people. In addition to food, music and entertainment, the event offered an opportunity to recognize community leaders and celebrate their contributions, according to a news release from the chamber.

"The Chamber Gala was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the people making a lasting impact on our community," Susan Neill Dawdy, director of membership and special events for the chamber, said in the release. "These are the people that make Jefferson City a better place, a place we love to call home."

Reid Millard was recognized with the 2021 William W. Quigg Award, which honors outstanding community service and leadership, and was designed to recognize someone who has performed outstanding and dedicated service to the community or to helping others over time.

Millard was recognized for his service through the Lincoln Blue Tigers Athletic Club, of which he helped found, Operation Bugle Boy and the Gold Star Families, and the Sheltered Workshops hosted annually at Millard's farm.

Millard said he helped found what was once called the Blue Tiger Quarterback Club in order to help strengthen the bonds between Lincoln University and the Jefferson City community, which is often best facilitated through sports.

"At the time, we didn't have a lot of that," Millard said, noting the relationship has gotten much stronger through the years and pointing to the Linc as an example of what the two can do together.

Millard said he's always humbled by recognition, as the service is done simply to help the community, and he was honored to receive an award so many other prestigious community members have received.

"I was honored to be recognized and just really represent what myself and our family are all about," Millard said.

Debbie Hamler was recognized with the 2021 Chamber Meritorious Civic Service Award, which honors someone who is passionate about making a positive contribution to Jefferson City and has gone above and beyond expectations in their service to the community.

Hamler was recognized for her lifelong service helping children with special needs, often becoming a champion and advocate for families. Hamler recently retired from the Special Learning Center Foundation, where she worked after leaving the Special Learning Center, which she helped form after the center was established by merging two existing organizations.

Hamler said she was incredibly surprised to be recognized and did not expect to receive an award that has been given to people she admires.

"I never really dreamed of getting an award such as that," Hamler said. "I have totally loved my career, and it has been my pleasure. I love all the families and children that we served."

Hamler said her career was always more of a ministry for her, and she feels blessed to have had the experiences and opportunities she's had.

"I feel very blessed," Hamler said. "I just love what I've been able to do as my career."

Natalie Newville was recognized with the Fast Forward Award, which honors a young person who exhibits outstanding leadership skills and is making valuable contributions to the community that will have a long lasting positive impact.

Newville was recognized for her work with Jefferson City Rotary West, the West Side Business Association and the Downtown Association, where she serves as president. She also provides marketing for Missouri River Regional Library and helps plan many community events, including Ice Cream Splash, Living Windows and the Piccadilly in White.

"I love calling Jefferson City our home, and being recognized for my contributions is a really special honor," Newville wrote in an email, adding the support of her husband, Kenney, is a big reason she's able to donate so much of her time. "While I was the one who received the award, I could not be as involved as I am without Kenney's support, and we both are committed to making sure Jefferson City is a place where our daughter, Catherine, can thrive."

Newville said the couple opted to move to Jefferson City eight years ago after falling in love with the area and knew they wanted to contribute to the city's success.

"Being involved in Rotary West, Downtown, West Side and more have allowed us to be connected to the community, and make an impact," Newville said.

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