By Ed Harris
The Southington Chamber of Commerce has named Joe Calvanese the Riccio Brothers Businessperson of the Year.
Calvanese is the owner and president of the Aqua Turf, which was founded by his parents Joe and Kay in 1969. Located at 556 Mulberry Street, the Aqua Turf sits atop 35 acres and has become one of the largest banquet facilities in the state, after beginning as a nine-hole golf course and swimming club.
“It’s a very nice award to get,” Calvanese said. “It’s a nice honor.”
Calvanese thanked his family and Aqua Turf employees for putting up with his long hours and working to help make the club the success it has become.
“Our main job is to make sure our customers get the best service,” Calvanese said.
Every year, the Aqua Turf hosts numerous functions, including proms, weddings and a multitude of events for non-profits. Many fundraisers and community events are held at the Aqua Turf through out the year.
Over the years the Calvanese family has been noted for their community involvement and generosity. Much of the family’s community involvement is with the Joe & Kay Foundation, on which Joe Calvanese serves as president.
“One hundred percent of the money raised goes back into the Southington community,” Calvanese said of the foundation’s efforts.
Calvanese will join Kathy Rickard and Mark Fazzolari as award recipients at the upcoming Southington Chamber of Commerce Dinner later this month.
Rickard was named the Gail DePaolo Community Service Award recipient.
Rickard owns CompuMail, a local printing, mailing and marketing company with her husband Dana. She donates her time to various groups, such as the Apple Harvest Festival and social services. She is also heavily involved with sports in town, including YMCA gymnastics, Southington West Little League, and softball and baseball at Southington High School.
Rickard also served 10 years on the Board of Education and had a hand in bringing in hockey as a high school sport.
“It is a wonderful honor,” Rickard said, noting how she holds the award’s namesake in high regard. “I was very honored, humbled.”
Rickard credits her parents with instilling her sense of giving back to the community.
“My parents set a good example for us and I want to set a good example for my kids,” Rickard said.
Fazzolari, of Southington Community Services, was named the Ann Hauver Employee of the Year.
Fazzolari began volunteering with Community Services in 2011 and is now the assistant director. He is known for coming in early and leaving late and doing all that he can to help clients.
He is also a member of Southington UNICO and is a former employee of the Hartford Group.
“This couldn’t be done without my coworkers and the volunteers,” Fazzolari said. “Just one person shouldn’t be singled out.”
Fazzolari said the town has been good to his family and he has always wanted to give back to the community.
The Southington Chamber of Commerce will hand out the awards during its 76th annual dinner/meeting on Saturday, April 26 at the Aqua Turf, from 6 p.m. to midnight. For tickets, contact the chamber at 860-628-8036.
“The Chamber annually recognizes citizens who are generous and giving of their time. These specific honors have been a tradition of the chamber and this year’s recipients are truly deserving,” said Chamber President Art Secondo. “Our annual dinner meeting is a special time of the year, not only for the chamber of commerce, but for the presentations of all our awards including the public service, chamber woman of the Year and the beautification honors. It’s a fun night but also special as we honor our exiting directors and welcome a new slate and welcome our new board chairperson.”
By Ed Harris