2019 Community Spirit Annual Awards

We are excited to announce the winners…

Since 2004, the Jensen Community Center has selected and celebrated members of the community who exhibit exemplary community spirit. Every year, we receive many worthy contenders and this year was no exception. We are happy to announce the Person of the Year, Junior Person of the Year and Business of the Year. Thank you to all of you for making the Tomorrow River area such a wonderful place to live.

Victor Voss

2019 Person of the Year

I am writing to nominate my brother Victor Voss for the 2019 Person of the Year. Victor has been involved heavily with the Amherst Fire District for many years, serving the last 18 years as the department chief. This job has very little pay involved for the amount of time it demands from the individuals.

Since Victor began on the (then Nelsonville) fire department in 1986, he has spearheaded many projects including the building of a new fire station in 1995. Victor worked closely with designers, using his knowledge to create a safe, expandable, strong building that would serve the area for many years. Victor was also chief when the very first fire truck with a mounted aerial device was purchased in 2002.

Victor has also been a rock for the organization when faced with diversity. When Firefighter Jeff Tiegs suddenly lost his life in the line of duty in 2003, Victor was at the station almost around the clock consoling members and planning with the family for a proper fire service funeral.

Victor had a large part in the ambulance contract that was awarded to Amherst in 2008 for the creation of the very first ambulance stationed in Amherst. This was the first ambulance in Portage County to ever serve from a location outside of Stevens Point. This has saved countless lives in the Amherst area and continues to serve with a renewed contract this year.

When the recent storms hit Amherst, Victor was there, leading his crews to keep people safe during and after the storm. Like many, Victor picked up his saw and went to work helping his neighbors.

Trying to explain what I think my brother means to this community is impossible to do in less than 250 words, but please forgive me. I appreciate the consideration.

Sincerely, Kenny Voss

Makena Maves

2019 Junior Person of the Year

Makena Maves displays everyday leadership, integrity, and kindness. Her peers often come to her for support and assistance. Her personal integrity, courage, and positivity set her apart.

Makena participates in multiple organizations at Amherst High School. She is the volleyball manager, a member of Spanish Club and weight training. She also plays basketball and has helped with yearbook. Last year Makena was a leader in organizing and implementing the Harleigh Games. This was a way for her to create something positive in memory of a close friend. The success of the games is due in part to her significant volunteer contributions. She was a model of courage and kindness in the process.

Makena has volunteered in other areas; for example, in Texas as a youth gathering volunteer. There she did Hurricane Harvey clean up in an area hard hit by the storm. Through her church, Makena has volunteered for the Stevens Point food pantry, Vacation Bible School, rung bells for Salvation Army, visited homebound elders, and raked leaves.

These community actions are indicators of Makena’s caring nature. She is known affectionately as “mom” within her peer group and universally respected for her personal integrity. Makena can be counted on to follow through, do more than expected, and bring positivity and her best to every situation. She is an absolute gem. Makena plans to attend college to become a dental hygienist.

Desiah Melby

2019 Business of the Year

Jim and Sarah Ambrose started their business life together running T and T Lawn Service and then the Village Swap Shop. During this time, their sons ­– Troy and Travis – worked for an area restaurant, starting as dishwashers and progressing to cooks, learning the restaurant trade from the ground up. This experience must have been quite persuasive because Jim and Sarah opened Ambrosia Pub and Grill shortly thereafter. The business is celebrating its 21st anniversary and Jim and Sarah work beside their entire family. Troy, Travis, Tara and, now, another Sarah to keep their thriving business running smoothly.

It would be difficult to find any individual in the Tomorrow River community who has not either enjoyed a Friday night fish fry at Ambrosia, or attended one of the myriad benefits, fundraisers, celebrations or funerals catered by the Ambrose family.

Jim and Sarah have consistently supported community organizations with generous food donations as well as discounts and gift certificates. They are the go-to choice in our area for any event that requires delicious, homemade food.

Breakfast at the Fair, which continues every July, originated with the Ambrose family. The entire Ambrose family is on the Amherst Fair Board.

With a staff of around 25, Ambrosia has a positive economic impact on our community, and is often the first employment opportunity youth have in our area. They learn a myriad of life skills in this food preparation/service business.

It takes a certain kind of person to run a successful restaurant in a small rural community. Jim and Sarah Ambrose and their close-knit family are friendly, reliable, caring, and openly generous with their time and resources.

The Ambrose name is well known in our community and inspires confidence, reliability, generosity, and community!

It is with pride that we wish to nominate Jim and Sarah Ambrose as Business of the Year.Tim and Sue Pederson

Peace out!!! If you’ve had a conversation with Sara Ambrose, you’ve heard this farewell. That seems to be the whole Ambrose family – no matter what the event, issue or need, their great attitude can be counted on from start to finish.

A part of one wall in their restaurant basement is covered with photos from former and present employees – graduations, weddings, births... These employees aren’t just workers at Ambrosia, they are family, and they know it.

It’s this sense of service, of family, of community that makes the Ambrose family a very deserving nomination for the Community Spirit’s “Business of the Year” award.

If hard work is the benchmark for success, Sara and Jim have taught their children, Troy, Tara, and Travis exceptionally well. They work together and always have, it seems. In the early years, their Swap Shop was filled with treasures. A person couldn’t leave without finding something valuable, but at a very reasonable price. They also had a lawn care service, using ingenuity and sweat to keep their machines at the ready. And now, they have a premier restaurant in our community. I suspect most of us take our out-of-town guests to Ambrosia. We have been well fed for free on their annual Customer Appreciation Day. No matter how crazy busy it might be, at least one of the family will stop and check how you are doing during your dinner. They know how to make you feel special.

But many people have a successful business. What sets the Ambrose family apart in all of their business adventures is the heart they put into all they do. I’ve made arrangements for several local catering events. And, without exception, they cut our costs in every way they can: “Oh, we’ll take care of paying the extra servers, and those napkins are free; you want two different salads, I’ll only charge you half price for the second one. This is for a good cause.” They seem so happy to make each event particularly special. To help save money, they supply food orders for big events in Amherst; they serve on committees; they gladly do what they can at local celebrations and benefits. And they do it all with smiles and laughter. They make you feel good just to work with them on any project.

The Ambrose Family makes me proud to be a part of this community. They are helpful, humble, kind, full of laughter, hardworking, and honest. It’s an honor to know them and nominate this fine family and business.

Respectfully, Vickie Vaughn

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