Year in and year out, the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce continues in its mission to promote local business.
“There are multiple facets to what the chamber does,” President Dominick Minerva said, which include providing networking opportunities and helping with advertising and beautification projects to benefit the community at large.
Those pursuits were on display at Pompeii’s in West Hempstead on Oct. 4, when the chamber celebrated its annual awards dinner and installation ceremony, honoring members who have provided exceptional customer service and given back to the Valley Stream community.
Leigh-Ann Edison, owner of Paramount Physical Therapy on Sunrise Highway and a village native, was recognized with the Business Achievement Award for her dedication to the organization. She recently celebrating five years in business in the community.
“It’s really an amazing feeling,” she said of the recognition. “It’s an honor having the hard work of the past five years pay off, and to be appreciated by the chamber.”
Edison said she was inspired to become a physical therapist after undergoing treatment herself when she suffered an injury in high school. She had long been interested in the sciences, she said, but the experience led her to volunteer in the field and later study the subject in college. She completed a doctorate in physical therapy at Stony Brook University in 2009.
“There’s a connection a physical therapist can make,” Edison said of helping someone regain mobility and independence after surgery or an injury. “My pa-tients become almost like family.”
“She’s been very supportive of the chamber,” Minerva said, adding that Edison attends nearly every luncheon and meeting, and for the past four years has organized her own annual ovarian cancer fundraiser, collecting nearly $10,000 for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s Long Island Chapter.
In addition to Edison, two longtime community volunteers, Tony and Jane Spezio, were honored with the Special Recognition Award for their decades of civic work in Valley Stream.
Focusing much of their efforts in the schools, the couple founded the Valley Stream Wellness Committee and the Youth Council to teach children the dangers of substance abuse and addiction.
Additionally, Tony is credited with helping found the Memorial Junior High School store after noting a lack of school-spirit T-shirts during his son, Anthony’s, time there.
He was known to take great care in what he sold to students, ensuring that the items were safe and healthy, and volunteering four days a week to operate it, according to previous Herald reporting. All proceeds were returned to the schools, and the store continues its operation today.
Tony was also president of the Central/Memorial Parent Teacher Student Association, and Jane served as the group’s membership chairwoman, overseeing a two-fold increase in membership, according to the group. The couple became so involved in the PTSA that they earned lifetime memberships in the organization. Tony was also the Herald’s 2015 Person of the Year.
Outside of the schools, the Spezios are heavily involved in the chamber, Minerva said, attending ribbon cuttings for new businesses that open in the village. Additionally, they sit on the planning committee that organizes the annual Valley Stream Community Fest, which the chamber sponsors, helping to organize the annual event, which draws thousands of Valley Streamers and visitors to Rockaway Avenue.
Tony said that he doesn’t do volunteer work for the recognition, but as a three-time cancer survivor, he added, “I feel like I have a purpose being here.”