ACRA names businesses, nonprofit of the year |

ACRA names businesses, nonprofit of the year

Naomi Havlen

Two longtime Aspen residents, a couple of businesses and one nonprofit were honored by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association yesterday as a kickoff to this year’s Wintersköl celebration.Leonard and Bamby Patterson were named this year’s Wintersköl King and Queen, having lived in Aspen since 1973 and volunteering at a number of local organizations.The couple, married for 63 years, have donated their time to the Aspen Thrift Shop and the Aspen Historical Society. They have two sons, Mark and Dan, who own Paradise Bakery and live in Aspen with their families. Their daughter, Christiana, lives in California.As king and queen, the Pattersons will preside over Wintersköl festivities and Saturday’s parade.This year ACRA changed the format of their business-of-the-year awards. Rather than celebrating one local large business and one local small business, they awarded one Aspen business of the year, an emerging business of the year and a nonprofit of the year.”Our member services committee thought that there are so many nonprofits in the valley and struggling smaller businesses, that this would be a good opportunity to create new awards,” said ACRA’s Debbie Braun, vice president of chamber operations.Aspen Magazine was given the town’s business of the year award after publishing for 31 years.”Eight businesses applied, and Aspen Magazine stood out as a longtime magazine with good community involvement,” Braun said. The magazine identified “attracting visitors to Aspen” as the most significant problem facing the town, and said that it helps promote Aspen with its national publication.The best emerging business award went to Bluegreen, a local landscape architecture and planning firm founded in December 2001. On Bluegreen’s application for the award it said it has a desire to “work, live and play in Aspen” and do 95 percent of its work in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley.ACRA named the Buddy Program this year’s Aspen nonprofit of the year. The program was founded in 1973 and has gone from being all volunteer to employing eight full-time employees. In addition, its budget has grown from nothing to $800,000 in the last 31 years.”They listed the most significant problem facing Aspen is raising children with high self-esteem who become long-term, productive community members,” Braun said. The Buddy Program’s application said they help kids who are facing divorce, addiction and neglect by providing “unbiased care they may not get at home.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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