Bronx Chamber to honor five at annual gala

Five key individuals have worked to enhance the borough’s business community, and they aren’t going to go unnoticed.

At its eighth annual banquet, which will include an appearance by actor Richard Gere, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce will honor five local heroes.

In a special announcement ceremony on Friday, September 17 at the Chamber’s offices in the Hutchinson Metro Center, the names of five honorees from the business community were made public. All have made significant contributions to the borough.

Ray Negron, of the New York Yankees, will be receiving the Chamber’s Humanitarian Award. A children’s book the front office man wrote, called “Henry and Me,” is being made into a film that features Gere as the voice of the title character Henry. Negron said that he was thrilled to be receiving the award for his work, which includes bringing Yankee players to visit children in hospitals around the borough.

“It is the Yankee way to reach out to the world; that is something that the boss, George Steinbrenner, taught me at a very young age,” Negron said.

Joseph Simone, of Simone Development, which has worked on the Hutchinson Metro Center and many other projects, is receiving the visionary award. Simone Development has considerable holdings in the borough and has converted taxi garages into supermarkets, and bowling alleys into medical facilities. Part of his business is to upgrade and change the use of existing buildings.

“Being honored here in the Bronx by the Chamber is especially exciting for me because I was born in the Bronx. My career started here,” Simone said. “I am one of those people who has been fortunate enough to have seen it go from bustling to burning to bustling again.”

Alfredo Thiebaud, winner of the Chamber’s longevity award, has been in business for the past 32 years. He is the president and founder of Delicioso Coco Helado, an flavored ice and ice cream distributor.

“The business is growing, we make a living, and try to do better every year,” Thiebaud said. “It is important to be proud of what you are doing and have a good product. Everybody likes our product, and that tells me we are doing good. It took a long time to accomplish.”

Jorge Medina, winner of the community service award, is the chairman and founder of Verdero, a sporting goods manufacturer and distributor. He runs youth baseball clinics for prospective high school-aged players so that scouts can see all the talent the Bronx has to offer.

Sobeida Cruz, winner of the Environmental Awareness Award, is environmental justice coordinator for the New York Power Authority. She works as part of an intergovernmental task force founded by Governor David Paterson to bring environmental justice to poorer and mostly minority inner-city communities. She is also part of an initiative to bring green energy and jobs to the Bronx.

The honorees will receive their awards on Thursday, October 7 at Marina del Rey. Special guests besides Gere include Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, New York Yankee players, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

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