Monroe Chamber reflects on a successful 2023 at its annual Holiday Luncheon

Monroe Chamber of Commerce President Ray Giovanni speaks during its annual Holiday Luncheon at Flames Restaurant, 262 Main St., Tuesday.

MONROE, CT — Monroe Chamber of Commerce members celebrated a successful year when business owners and professionals gathered at its annual Holiday Luncheon at Flames Restaurant, 262 Main St., Tuesday afternoon.

Chamber President Ray Giovanni recalled a year of ribbon cuttings for new businesses, Lunch & Learns at Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, and the organization’s scholarship program, which awarded two scholarships to deserving students in the Monroe school system.

The scholarship program is funded by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce’s annual golf tournament.

“I wish you all happy healthy holidays with your families and friends,” Giovanni said, while standing among tables of diners.

First Selectman Terry Rooney, who was elected to his first two-year-term last November, also spoke. “As we know, the businesses in Monroe are the backbone of our community,” he said.

Rooney thanked the Chamber for its support of local businesses and, when they go out into town, he encouraged members to promote shopping locally and doing things in Monroe.

First Selectman Terry Rooney speaks during the Holiday Luncheon.

“I think it’s important to tell people to support our businesses, because without the support of our citizens they do not thrive, they do not survive,” he said. “Every time somebody here opens a business, it’s their dream and they rely on the community supporting them.”

The first selectman thanked Meta “Michael” Rugova, the owner of Flames, for hosting the luncheon and wished everyone happy holidays.

Aside from the lunch, Chamber members participated in trivia and won raffle prizes.

Scholarships for women

Beth Stoller told fellow members that the Network of Executive Women is accepting applications for 2024 Scholarships for women who want to go back to school.

Among the requirements:

  • Applicants must reside in or attend a post-secondary education program in Fairfield or New Haven counties.
  • Demonstrate a financial need.
  • Have had an interruption in education.
  • Be returning, continuing or commencing undergraduate schooling or other types of training to further their educational goals and/or enhance job skills.
  • It must be for undergraduate or certificate programs only. (Graduate work is not funded with these scholarships.)
  • Note: 2023-24 high school graduates are not eligible. Scholarships are funded through new sponsored events, member participation and private donations.

To apply, visit the Network of Executive Women’s website. Stoller said the Network of Executive Women plans to accept applications until Feb. 4, before hosting its awards luncheon in April.

“This is an amazing group of women,” Stoller said. “We all get together once a month for a luncheon. We’ve given away over $200,000 in scholarships over 20 years.”

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