Grand Island Chamber of Commerce: Island Deli, Lynn Ortiz honored with Citizen of the Year awardsby jmaloni
Citizen of the Year: Education
Lynn Ortiz is currently a kindergarten teacher at St. Stephen School. She resides on Grand Island with her husband of 25 years and their three children.
Lynn grew up in Buffalo and ever since elementary school wanted to become a teacher. While attending Canisius College, working on her aspiration to become an English teacher, she worked as a student aide for the U.S. Customs Service. Upon graduation, she took a job teaching at the former Diocesan Educational Campus in Buffalo. Within a year of accepting her first teaching position she was offered a full-time permanent position with the U.S. Customs Service. She accepted the position and began a 17-year career in law enforcement. In 1989, both Lynn and her husband, also a U.S. Customs Inspector, accepted positions in the Thousand Islands, stationed at Alexandria Bay. While working in Alexandria Bay, Lynn rose quickly up the ladder of success, having had a number of accomplishments under her belt. One of her major achievements was her design of a U.S. Customs User Fee Decal, which was placed on all private aircraft, vessels, and commercial trucks entering the United States. For this suggestion and design, Lynn received an award from the commissioner of customs.
In 1994, Lynn and her husband returned to the Buffalo area to be closer to her mom, who was battling cancer. They chose Grand Island as their home because it was centrally located to all U.S./Canada border crossings on the Niagara Frontier. After three more years on the border, Lynn decided to take a position as an entry officer, which would allow her to work strictly day shifts because by this time there were two additions to the Ortiz family. She spent three years in that position until 2000, when she decided to put her career on hold to raise her young family. During that time there was a third addition to the Ortiz family. In 2004, Lynn's husband suffered a disabling injury, ending his career as an inspector. At that time Lynn became a regular on the substitute teacher list at St. Stephen School. In 2005, she was offered the position of kindergarten teacher and has been teaching there ever since.
She is proud to work with dedicated colleagues in a school whose mission is to create lifelong learners, empowered with a strong sense of Catholic values, who will become responsible, contributing citizens of our world, making it a better place for future generations.
In addition to teaching kindergarten, Lynn has touched the lives of many Grand Island children as the director of St. Stephen Summer Camp. In her position as camp director, she is responsible for providing a safe and enjoyable environment for children. She oversees a staff of approximately 15 and opens the camp doors to as many as 100 children. She is responsible for scheduling on-site field trips, sports camps, and all other activities of the camp.
Outside of the classroom, Lynn likes to spend time with her family and friends. She enjoys gardening, reading, and writing. She and her husband are very busy raising their three children: Gabriella, a St. Stephen alumna and currently a freshman at Canisius College; and Nicholas and Justin, both St. Stephen students.
She continues to grow as a teacher attending staff workshops, and this past summer attended the eighth annual Education Law Symposium in Louisville.
Citizen of the Year: Business of the Year
Island Deli and Meat Market
On March 23, the Island Deli and Meat Market celebrated its five-year anniversary since opening for business. Danielle and Todd St. Onge's family members noted there was no local alternative to a big chain market, and they saw the need for fresh, cut-to-order meats and accompanying side dishes. They also wanted to offer a more personal shopping experience, as evidenced by Danielle's personal greeting to many of their customers. The personal touch also includes homemade soups, and family recipes are often found in their menu choices.
Their business has grown from retail counter service to now include a faxed menu service to more than 40 Island businesses each day, who then call the deli to have lunches ready for pick-up by their employees. Business now totals more than a half-million dollars in sales each year, providing employment to seven Grand Island resident-employees. The Island Deli is also noted for providing a retail outlet for other local businesses, such as Bear-Man sauces, Costanzo breads, Chiavetta's dressings, and others.
Danielle and Todd have resisted pressures to expand and grow outside their current retail space because they value the intimate atmosphere currently enjoyed on both sides of the counter. They are recognized as the Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year for 2011 for not only providing delicious food choices and personal service, but also for their generous support of many Island charities.