Crestwood Chamber Top Citizen and Businessperson Honored

South County Times, April 2013.

The Crestwood Sunset Hills Area Chamber of Commerce annually recognizes community members for outstanding and dedicated service at an Awards Banquet held in March.

The 2013 Awards ceremony was held at ’s Event and the honorees included: Mike Raeber, Citizen of the Year; Brian Kohlbert, Rotarian of the Year; Bonnie Butterfield, Kiwanian of the Year; Bill and Marie Puricelli, Community Improvement Award; Cindy Sykes, New Chamber Member of the Year, and Richard W. Bayers, Member and Businessperson of the Year.

Each year Chamber members are asked to submit names of people they feel have demonstrated outstanding service or dedication to the community in several different categories. A committee then chooses the award winners.

Citizen of the Year

Mike Raeber received the 2013 Citizen of the Year Award, which recognizes an outstanding community volunteer.

“I was pleased and honored to have my name attached to the award,” Raeber said.

Raeber is a Fenton resident and a graduate of St. Louis University School of Business. He married his high school sweetheart and has one child. In 1984, he co-founded Equity Financial Services located in the city of.

For the past several decades, the Chamber has recognized members with awards and after seeing the list of names, Raeber realized he knew many of them.

“I understand the things they have done and how they have impacted the community,” Raeber said. “It made me feel very honored that I could now be on that list.”

Raeber has been involved in community service and volunteerism for many years. He is a long-time member of the Kiwanis Club of Crestwood Sunset Hills and has served several terms on the Chamber’s board.

Raeber credits the Chamber and Kiwanis organizations for allowing him ways to serve the community. He has spent time helping with numerous activities and organizations, such as the Ronald McDonald House, Kiwanis Camp Wyman, reading books to pre-school children at Lindbergh ECE, participated in school picnics and helped organize many fundraisers.

More than 20 years ago Raeber, with his best friend and business partner Tom Brady, began collecting toys for Children in the St. Louis Public Schools and delivering them just before the school’s holiday break.

Raeber said that having a positive impact on people’s lives, especially children, does not only touch their lives, but also has a very profound and intense impact on him as well.

“When you work with a program like Toys for School Kids you start to see all the obstacles some of these kids have to overcome just to be there in the morning to participate in school,” Raeber said. “To experience and understand what they have to go through is really life-changing.”

The act of kindness and giving started with one school and 300 toys. After many years of dedication and help of many devoted volunteers, the Toys for School Kids program has grown to see more than 4,000 toys delivered to nearly 1,000 children in three different schools this past year.

Businessperson of the Year

Richard W. Bayers is the 2013 Member and Businessperson of the year, which recognizes a person who has been dedicated to serving the Chamber and made an outstanding contribution to the growth of business.

“I was humbled and embarrassed,” Bayers said. “I appreciate being nominated and ratified as Businessperson of the Year.”

Bayers is a Ballwin resident and a Certified Public Accountant with offices at in Crestwood. He has provided accounting and tax services to the community since graduating from in 1971.

His firm offers small businesses multiple services including compliance reporting, payroll and sales tax returns, financial statements, as well as, tax services for corporations, partnerships, trust and individuals including representation.

Bayers also maintains memberships in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Missouri Association of Tax Practitioners that allows his firm to stay up-to-date and informed in the accounting and tax industry.

Since joining the Crestwood Sunset Hills Area Chamber of Commerce in 2004, Bayers has been involved with many aspects of the Chamber. He has dedicated time to participate in most Chamber events and serve on numerous committees, such as the Community and Member Development Committee, Student of the Month Committee, Route 66 Committee, Finance Committee, Auction Committee and the Executive Committee.

Bayers has been a Chamber board member since 2008 and served as president of the Chamber in 2011.

Bayers is also active in his church as a board member of the church’s business network and serves as Eucharistic minister.

He has been a board member and is a Safety Road Captain with his motorcycle club, The Shadow Riders Club of St. Louis and for more than a decade has served on the March of Dimes – Bikers for Babies Committee.

“It is important to me to give back to the community where I live, work, the church community and my passion for motorcycle riding,” Bayers said. “I’m interested in it, so I want to be involved in it.”

Published: South County Times, April 2013. (link below)

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