At Your Service: Nov. 19, 2008

When I was a child I tended to the pensive side and in order to get my attention, my mother used a simple phrase, “penny for your thought.” It became such a familiar refrain that she would often simply smile and say, “penny…” What made these exchanges meaningful, was that she really did want to hear what I was thinking.
I subsequently learned that my mother was not the first to use the phrase. It was coined in England and referred to a pence, which had considerable value. When people worked for an entire day and considered themselves lucky to get a pence for their efforts, a penny for a thought was an extravagant offer.
In the tradition of my mother and the original meaning of the phrase, I am asking you for your thoughts. It is time for the Catskill Best Service Awards and we hope you will participate. In addition to completing the ballots, we would love to hear your thoughts and stories about quality service from local providers.
In its 11th year, these awards continue to evolve. New this year, in recognition of a growing trend in the area, we have added Art Gallery among the retail categories. Like last year, you will find two primary categories, Business and Individual. We have also split Health Care off as its own subcategory within the business section. If there is a company or someone whose service is exemplary and you can’t decide which category they belong in, write their name in the Other category that is the closest match.

Business Categories
There are six Business categories in which you can name the deserving: Building, Professional, and Food Services, Health Care, Retail Stores and Lodging Establishments, plus a category for new businesses.
Building Services: This category is for businesses that perform services in and around your home or business. Not only is their work performed expertly, but they leave a feeling of confidence behind when they have gone.
Professional Services: Service Providers in this category deliver those types of services that keep the life machine running smoothly. Insurers, real estate firms and others whose ultimate product is your peace of mind are included here.
Health Care: this new category brings together all those who provide the wide range of services that relate to our well being. You can vote for both the institutions and individuals here; the magic word is “care”.
Retail Stores: These are the stores you love to visit because you always receive a friendly welcome and find shelves stocked with the items you want? It is the place that stocks those gifts that you and your friends love to receive, the antique store you enjoy walking around and the places that provide for your basic needs. When you’re checking out, the change you receive is accompanied by a smile.
Food Services: This category includes that restaurant you go to for special occasions and the place you prefer when you just need to “grab a bite.” They give you the feeling that you are always welcome and everything they serve becomes “comfort food” for your spirit. If, indeed, we are what we eat, then the extra something that these service providers deliver makes us better people.
Lodging Establishments: When someone special is visiting and you don’t have space at home, this is the place you choose for them to stay. Because our area has a large number of tourists, these businesses are an important part of our area’s economy. Those named in this category not only welcome visitors, the quality of their service gives people a reason to return to our area again and again.
New Business: It takes both courage and considerable resources to start a new business. Even more, it takes a belief in the community as a place that will continue to grow to make this kind of investment. This is an opportunity to bring to everyone’s attention those new businesses that are delivering the quality of service that deserves attention.

Individual Service Providers
These service providers may come into your home, but most have an office or shop that you visit for professional advice, haircuts, massages and the like. They might be accused of being clairvoyant — they just seem to know what you want and need. You may not see them often, but because you and your affairs are in their hands, you are filled with the confidence that brings restful nights.
Whenever you think about them, it gives you confidence that your dollars are being spent wisely. They are the people who grease the machine of government, tend to your health and ease your burdens with the effectiveness and efficiency of their work. This category also includes those whose service is completely voluntary, they receive nothing more for their efforts than the knowledge that they make a difference in the life of this community.
One of the most important factors people consider when they decide where they will spend their dollar is the quality of service, never more true than in tough times. The Catskill Best Service Awards is one way of letting people know that they are doing a great job. I hope you will join me in selecting those who deserve special recognition by filling out the ballots and returning them to the Catskill Mountain News by Dec, 26. We look forward to receiving your thoughts.