*This article is owned and produced by the Latrobe Bulletin. Article was written by Nick Cammuso, a Bulletin Staff Writer. In sharing this article on our blog, QuatriniRafferty does not take ownership of the piece.
"Putting new life into a historic Latrobe building. Local faces offering quality American-made products. Creating possible career paths for middle school students. Building a better life for area children.
In their own ways, the QuatriniRafferty P.C. law firm, Rusbosin Furniture, Tim Bates and CASA of Westmoreland have helped move the Latrobe area forward over the years. And on October 22nd, each was recognized for those efforts at the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce's 73rd Annual Dinner and Award Celebration at Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College in Unity Township.
QuatriniRafferty was named the Chamber's Community Service Award winner, Rusbosin the Small Business of the Year, Bates the 2018 Volunteer of the Year and CASA the Nonprofit Organization of the Year.
This year's awards had a decidedly different look from the start. Determined by a committee in past years, the 2018 nominees were selected through nominations from Chamber members.
The community service recipient, QuatriniRafferty P.C. was honored for contributing time, talent and resources to the community.
The law firm was founded more than 30 years ago by attorneys and childhood friends Vincent Quatrini and Dennis Rafferty. Aside from its downtown Latrobe office, the firm also boasts locations in Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Altoona.
In 2013, the firm opened a new office on the ground floor of the former Mellon Bank building along Ligonier Street in downtown Latrobe, across from the Latrobe Art Center. Many of the building's architectural features were restored prior to the office's opening.
Last year, the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program used federal grant funds to start a new small business incubator in the building. The business incubator - which aims to help start-up or spin-off companies become self-sufficient before moving to other downtown locations - had 11 available office spaces upon opening.
"To rebuild a community it takes a lot of spokes in the wheel and QuatriniRafferty law firm is a huge spoke in that wheel," Jarod Trunzo, executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, said during a brief video presentation at Monday's dinner. "What they've done in saving that building ... our incubator program wouldn't have been in existence if the law firm hadn't stepped up. And they're not doing it for any other reason than loving Latrobe and believing in its future every single day."
Past recipients of the community service award - given every year since 1958 - include the late Fred Rogers, late golf legend Arnold Palmer and "Ice Cream Joe" Greubel, to name a few.
Rusbosin Furniture, which has served the Latrobe area for more than 50 years, was honored by the Chamber as a local company that demonstrates exceptional business practices and community involvement.
The family-owned business was founded in 1963 by Bob Rusbosin in a small storefront on Route 30. The store's current location sits in a centralized spot that's part of the busy Route 30 business corridor and close to downtown Latrobe and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.
Over the years, the business has grown from a one-man operation to a full staff that prides itself on its large array of products made in the United States. During Monday's video presentation, brothers John and Ed Rusbosin said the company's warehouse is full of products made by American workers and tailored to American styles.
Rusbosin is also known for its commitment to the community. The company interacts with customers through social media and, according to its website, donates to more than 100 local groups on an annual basis.
Bates, a business analyst at the St. Vincent College Small Business Development Center, was recognized for his efforts in education. The development center, where Bates has worked since 2000, provides consulting services and educational programs to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a small business, among other services.
A chairman of the Chamber's educational committee, Bates has also donated his time to area leadership and community activities. That includes his role with the Chamber's Education Committee's Directions program, which connects area business and industry leaders with select students at Greater Latrobe Junior High School and Derry Area Middle School. As part of the program, business professionals tell students stories of how they reached their positions and provide details about local employment opportunities.
"Tim made organizing the program, for 315 students and 13 presenters, very easy through his leadership. It made it very simple and effective for me," GLJHS counselor Alan Hipps said.
The Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Westmoreland, the Chamber's nonprofit award recipient, was honored for promoting development or exemplifying service in the community. CASA is a group of trained volunteers who research the best interests of children involved in Family Court proceedings. Members also make recommendations to help meet the needs of participating children while they await permanent placement.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Feliciani helped create the program more than a decade ago. Since 2006, CASA of Westmoreland has served 600- plus children.
Paul Siefken, president and chief executive officer of Fred Rogers Productions, was Monday's keynote speaker. Before joining the Pittsburgh-based production team, he worked with PBS and Cartoon Network."
- Article writen and produced by Nick Cammuso, Staff Writer at the Latrobe Bulletin