The South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority Hosts 12th Annual R.O.S.E & R.I.S.E Awards

The South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority Hosts 12th Annual R.O.S.E & R.I.S.E Awards

The South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority hosted its 12th annual R.O.S.E. & R.I.S.E. awards at Teibel’s Family Restaurant Wednesday night, honoring outstanding service professionals in the hospitality industry.

Twelve R.O.S.E., or Recognition of Service Excellence, Awards are given to front-line employees who make a lasting impression on their co-workers, managers and the customers they serve.

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Three R.I.S.E., or Recognition of Industry Success & Excellence, Awards honor managerial employees and past R.O.S.E. winners who continue to exceed expectations.

Over 100 employees are nominated each year, and the process of whittling the list down to just 15 is fair and unbiased. An unnamed outside committee reviews the nominations, which are presented solely through the stories told, without naming the individuals or their companies.

Once the list of nominees is whittled down to just 30, those nominees are surprised at work, where a representative of SSCVA delivers a rose and describes their nomination.

Then, on awards day, the nominees are treated to a pre-party day at the State of Mind Spa with transportation provided by Epic Limo Inc.

“They pampered us today,” said R.O.S.E. winner Khiana “Kiki” Peterson, Housekeeping Office Coordinator at Amieristar Casino & Hotel, “They took us to a spa and we got manicures, pedicures, massages. It was really nice.”

“It’s nice to give these folks a night like this,” said Erika Dahl, SSCVA Director of Communications, who refers to the R.O.S.E. nominees as Directors of First Impression, “The whole event is meant to honor people who don’t usually get celebrated for all they do.”

“I’ve never not been happy to go to work,” said Matthew Higgins, Horseshoe Casino bartender, inadvertently describing exactly why he was nominated.

Mike Montgomery, Horseshoe Casino Director of Casino Operations, attended in support of Higgins, saying “He’s the best!”

As the awards were handed out, it became clear that what every nominee is known for is the small things. And it was abundantly clear that, what might seem small to them can mean the world to the lives their actions affect.

Kiki, for example, was nominated not for her clear-headed determination to help a guest who’d lost his wedding ring, but for insisting that the $100 reward she received for doing so go to the person who actually found the ring.

“They’re positively guiding and influencing and making our hospitality industry great,” said Speros Batistatos, SSCVA President & CEO and Emcee of the awards ceremony, “The dedication of service employees in this industry is crucial to the success of our businesses and industry.”

R.O.S.E Winners Becky Swerdon (aka Professor Play), Bellaboo’s Play & Discovery Center, for continuously encouraging fellow educators and children to be fearless and commit to the fun that lies in learning.

Caitlyn Fritz, Bartender at Horseshoe Casino, for her captivating energy and knack for remembering customers by name.

Christopher Edwards, Fishing Sales Associate at Cabela’s, for earning rave reviews from a customer who made it her goal to alert every manager in the store and for jumping into action, taking charge and staying calm while administering basic first aid in an emergency.

Brenda Manns, Cashier and Host at Heritage Buffet at Ameristar Casino & Hotel, who, as an example, crocheted a new lap blanket for a disabled veteran.

Gemma LaBerge, Life Enrichment Coordinator at Virginia Place Senior Living, who works hard to engage the residents and enrich their lives, even going so far as to take a senior to a doctors appointment and make sure there was a meal waiting for them after it was over.

George Kurtz, Server at Bartlett’s Fish Camp, for being second-to-none in demeanor, culinary knowledge, hospitality and delivery, as exemplified by paying a $400 tab for guests who forgot their wallets on nothing more than a promise to repay.

Khiana “Kiki” Peterson, Housekeeping Office Coordinator at Ameristar Casino & Hotel, as previously described.

Raquel Hernandez, Server at El Taco Real, who makes every customer feel welcome and notices her customers personal needs as well, comforting them in their times of stress and struggle.

Keith Jordan, Cook at Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center in Lake Station, whose fans regularly summon him to the counter for praise.

Jose Zendajas, Bartender at Jack Binion’s Steak, for going above and beyond his role in innovating and building Binion’s Signature Barrel Program.

Patricia Scott, Security Officer at Ameristar Casino & Hotel, for giving 100% both in and outside her job, fostering children and helping those in need.

Kevin Ogden, Maintenance Technician at Virginia Place Senior Living, for helping residents feel at home, even on his days off.

R.I.S.E. Winners Michael Season, Kitchen Manager at the Hilton Garden Inn, for always lending a hand, even in other departments, giving co-workers rides home, and taking the time to make smiley face pancakes just to brighten a child’s day.

Carmen Zapeda, KidZone Team Leader at Franciscan Health Fitness Centers, who developed a Parents’ Night Out to give parents and their kids a little something extra.

Ryan Trisler, Food and Beverage Manager at Deep River Waterpark, who lends a hand wherever it is needed, like when a call came out over the radio that someone had suffered a nasty cut while taking out the trash. Trisler ran to help, using his shirt as a tourniquet.

“We are a group of dedicated professionals who are changing the community’s understanding of what our industry means to it economically, for employment and for quality of life,” said Batistatos, “When you get great service, make sure you get a name so you can make a nomination.”

Nominations for next year’s awards are open now. Make yours at