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Chamber of Commerce to honor local heroes in Carrboro-Chapel Hill

Each year, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce recognizes people who help make the towns a thriving community. 

The Chamber of Commerce will host Salute to Community Heroes Thursday at 6 p.m. at University Place. This event will recognize first responders and residents who give selflessly to the Carrboro and Chapel Hill community. 

The annual event is a festive occasion, said Kristen Smith, vice president for government and community relations for the Chamber of Commerce.

“The event will have a sing-along led by the UNC Loreleis and refreshments by Chick-fil-A at University Place,” Smith said in an email.

The Chamber of Commerce recognizes one individual from the UNC Department of Public Safety and from the police, fire and emergency services departments in Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Orange County. These departments choose the employee who they believe should receive the award. 

Sgt. David Deshaies was selected by the Carrboro Police Department to be the Carrboro Police Officer of the Year.

“It is a tremendous honor and I have to say I was up against some really tough competition,” Deshaies said. “Carrboro is blessed with a lot of very good officers who know what they are doing, and many of us excel at our jobs every day, so I definitely feel very fortunate to receive this award.”

Deshaies said the police chief and two captains select an officer who they believe put in the most work on and off the job.

“This year I organized the first Citizen's Police Academy that we conducted, and I did another one in October,” he said. 

Deshaies is also in charge of maintaining the department’s website and social media platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Chamber of Commerce takes nominations for citizen and volunteer awards from their membership and the public. This year’s winner of the Citizen of the Year award is Maggie West, co-director of the Community Empowerment Fund.

"I really believe this award, while personal, is commemorating all of the work that the great organization, the CEF, has done this year," West said in an email.

The CEF's mission is to help those who are homeless and in poverty. The organization provides many resources so that the transition is smooth and lasting. 

"This year CEF has helped over 150 homeless and near homeless individuals to gain employment, over 100 members to move into stable housing and 185 members to save almost $200,000 towards their personal goals," West said in an email. "While I may be the recipient, it's most certainly not because of what I did, but because of the collective strength of the CEF community." 

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