The Hays Area Chamber of Commerce honored Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas for its inaugural Helping Hands Award for nonprofits at Tuesday’s annual awards banquet at Fort Hays State University’s Memorial Union.

The Helping Hands Award, sponsored by Platinum Group, is presented to a nonprofit organization or employee for outstanding work that improves the quality of life for residents in the Hays area.

DSNWK serves more than 500 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 18 counties. The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary last fall.

The new award is something that has been talked about for several years, said chamber Executive Director Tammy Wellbrock.

“Our board of directors recognized that we sometimes are perhaps neglecting to honor a nonprofit simply because it’s difficult to compare that apples to apples within a business world, and yet both have their accolades, both have their milestones they reach,” she said.

The award will recognize either the organization or an individual within an organization.

The chamber sold out its 424 tickets available for the event again this year, something Wellbrock said shows the business community looks forward to the event.

“It’s one way of measuring we’re doing the right thing the right way,” she said

The remaining awards presented were:

• Eagle Communications Rising Star Award — Sarah Cearley, owner of Simply Charmed and Bella Luna, 1011 Main, and a board member of Downtown Hays Development Corp.

• James Motor Co. Small Business Achievement Award — Paul-Wertenberger Construction, which employs 54 people. Steve Paul and Bob Wertenberger have owned the company for 35 years.

• Aflac-Jody Hipp Business Woman of the Year — Shanna Dinkel, assistant superintendent for Hays USD 489. Dinkel has been named Walmart Teacher of the Year and was a nominee for Kansas Teacher of the Year and HNEA Master Teacher.

• Nex-Tech Citizen of the Year — Don Scheibler, chief of the Hays Police Department. Scheibler is a member and past president of Hays Kiwanis and a graduate of Leadership Hays.

• Golden Belt Bank Hall of Fame Award — Dick Werth, owner of Auto World, 722 E. Eighth. Werth has supported numerous events within the community, is president and a board member of the Hays Symphony Guild, past board chair of the Hays Chamber of Commerce and was a 2005 recipient of the Harley L. Rhoads Award, now known as the Small Business Achievement Award.