The Greater Keene & Peterborough Chamber treated its annual gala Thursday night like a TV show, broadcasting to the wider community from the Colonial Performing Arts Center’s Showroom.

And the stars of the show were the winners of the chamber’s 2021 awards — Peter Hansel as the Citizen of the Year, The Monadnock Food Co-op as the Windsor Brooks Business of the Year and the Greater Monadnock Public Health Network, which was recognized with a special Presidents Award.

In front of a scaled-down studio audience of about 50 people, Chamber President and CEO Luca Paris hosted the virtual gala. Paris said that the chamber had originally planned to hold the gala in-person at Keene State College but changed venues in order to create a safer event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Hansel, whose family business Filtrine Manufacturing Co. in Keene won the chamber’s business of the year award in 2017, received the 2021 Citizen of the Year Award. The chamber presented the award to Hansel — who has served on more than 20 local organizations and boards, working on issues ranging from the environment to low-income housing — with a surprise ceremony in his driveway that was recorded and shown during the event.

In the video, Hansel said it is “truly humbling” to be among the “august group” of civic leaders who had received the award in years past.

While announcing the award, Jane Shapiro — who received the citizen of the year award last year — kept Hansel’s name a secret until the end.

“He understands how deeply we are all connected to each other, as individuals, as organizations and as a community,” Shapiro said, quoting one of Hansel’s colleagues. “He understands that jobs, economy, housing, environment, arts, children are all interrelated and how important it is to lift everyone up.”

Hansel, who has lived in Keene for more than 40 years, has deeply impacted the community, she said. His work, Shapiro added, has included encouraging entrepreneurial businesses, advocating for historic preservation, providing low-income families with housing opportunities, building homes in El Salvador with Keene High School students and being a champion for conservation and open space.

In the 1980s, Hansel helped found Citizens for Orderly Retail Expansion, or CORE, which helped reign in a development proposed where Home Depot now stands, winning a lawsuit that limited the development and expanded floodplain regulations. He also served for nine years on the board of the Harris Center for Conservation Education, chairing the board for three years, and has promoted community solar projects for Keene businesses.

The Presidents Award, which is not given every year, but which Paris said couldn’t be overlooked in a year when “our community stepped up like no other time in history,” went to the Greater Monadnock Public Health Network for the group’s mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The organization has held 30 local clinics throughout the region and, with aid from more than 300 volunteers, has provided more than 80,000 vaccinations region-wide.

Jane Parayil, the health network’s emergency preparedness coordinator who moved to Keene in November 2020 to help administer vaccines, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

“We are a year into our vaccination efforts and our volunteers have never given up and shown up every day with a smile on their face and a positive attitude regardless of weather,” Parayil said.

The Monadnock Food Co-op won the Windsor Brooks Business of the Year Award. A video shown at the gala highlighted the member-owned store, which sells products made from more than 350 local farmers, brewers and makers.

The video highlighted the co-op’s Healthy Food for All Program, which provides a 10 percent discount on all purchases for community members receiving government food assistance. The co-op has also given $87,000 since 2017 to support regional farms through its Farm Fund program.

Since 2013, the grocery store has more than doubled its sales and, responding to demand, went on to expand between 2019 and 2021, growing its cafe and shelf space and hiring almost 30 new staff members. The rooftop of the business is also home to the first locally-owned and community-supported solar project in the Monadnock region, according to the video.

Michael Faber, the co-op’s general manager, accepted the award on behalf of the store. “As a community-owned business, this award really goes to our entire community to celebrate,” Faber said. “No matter what your role is, undoubtedly you have been a part of our co-op and our success and for that I really want to thank all of you.”

Ryan Spencer can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1403, or rspencer@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @rspencer096.