The Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce had its annual dinner at Sandy Hook Fish & Rib House on Matlacha last Monday night.
Immediately after dinner, a surprise announcement was made by Elsie Stearns.
"It is my honor tonight to present the Al Mills Citizen of the Island Award," Stearns said. "A few years back when (former Eagle editor) Marianne Patton was interviewing me, she spoke of how this was her favorite article to write. I was honored thinking of all the articles she must have written over the years, and this was her favorite.
Phil and Joan Rosenberg
"She shared with me that no matter what town she was in, the person she was writing about never meant to be the recipient," she continued. "She said their dedication to their communities was genuine. This could not be truer about two individuals that are receiving this award tonight."
Stearns continued, "Their first office was not more than 200 square feet. They ran from one end of the island to the other helping businesses out on a daily basis.
"As Tom Cleaver and I spoke about nominating them, we spoke about how they carry out their many efforts quietly, never seeking recognition, but always giving 110 percent," she said. "We both kept mentioning the various organizations they BOTH serve on as volunteers, officers, teacher, webmaster, photographer, starter boat captain and so much more."
Those organizations, she said, include, "The Bobby Holloway Memorial, Pine Island Garden Club, Kiwanis, Matlacha Pine Island Fire Department, Pine Island Library, Chamber of Commerce, Pine Island F.I.S.H., Beacon of H.O.P.E., Santa's Helpers, Annual Tree Lighting and Holiday House, and closest to their hearts, the Calusa Land Trust."
In making the announcement about the honored couple, she then said,
"Tonight please lift your glass with me... and say to Joan and Phil Rosenberg what they always end their emails with... Cheers!"
The Al Mills Citizen of the Island Award is named after one of Pine Island's community and business leaders.
"Mills was president of the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce and most responsible for getting it up and running," Stearns said. "It is presented to one individual or organization each year in recognition for their dedication and commitment to island residents and the business community."
"We came to Florida in 1987 and we went to the other coast," Phil Rosenberg said. "We were in the boating industry. And the I worked for the city as a dispatcher and computer specialist until we discovered Pine Island. We moved here in 1992. In 1995 we started a little computer business, Island Computer, in a small office out by the water company."
"It was when we retired in 2007 that we started to get more and more involved in volunteer work," Joan Rosenberg said. "When we had the computer company, we never charged the churches anything except maybe the cost of parts and that worked itself in more volunteer work. We've been active in the Land Trust since maybe 1992 or 1993. I also taught people the basics of how to use their computers for years and years at the library."
Stearns went on to praise the couple for their contributions to the island.
"The Rosenbergs have contributed so much to the island over the years and that's why I thought of them," Stearns said. "Tom Cleaver and I nominated them for this award and the board approved it so I'm really happy to have been the one to present these two people with this award."
"What this award means to us is Al Mills was a very close friend and we worked on a lot of projects together," Phil Rosenberg said. "So Al Mills meant a lot to both of us. Al was an important guy and this is an important award and we're proud to be recipients. We live on Pine Island and we love Pine Island and to get an award from the Chamber with Al Mills name on it it just doesn't get any better than that."