Harmony House, led by (from left) Sunni Nutt, Jackie Langdon, Lisa Farmer and Jared Alexander, won the 2021 Small Business Award.
McKenzie Robinson | SBJ
Harmony House, led by (from left) Sunni Nutt, Jackie Langdon, Lisa Farmer and Jared Alexander, won the 2021 Small Business Award.

Harmony House wins chamber’s annual Small Business Award

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Harmony House is the recipient of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 W. Curtis Strube Small Business Award.

“This is such an incredible honor. I don’t think any of us thought we’d be standing here and recognized for our work. This is amazing,” said Lisa Farmer, Harmony House executive director, while accepting the award Nov. 10 during the chamber’s annual luncheon at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center.

Farmer saluted the nonprofit’s board of directors, employees, donors and volunteers for their contributions to the organization, which provides shelter and support services to domestic violence survivors.

“Our amazing staff, these are the people who work so hard every day, changing lives and saving lives,” she said. “It’s stressful work, it’s hard work and sometimes it’s really sad work. But there’s also a lot of victories and a lot of celebrations.”

Farmer also acknowledged the survivors served by the organization –  over 700 adults and children received shelter in 2020, according to Harmony House data.

The other award finalists, in alphabetical order, were:

  • Burgess Aircraft Management LLC, dba OzAir Charter Service, which operates a fleet of nine jets from Springfield;
  • Dynamic DNA Laboratories LLC, a genetics lab that specializes in DNA testing;
  • Loehr Health Center, a chiropractic and wellness company; and
  • TheraCare Outpatient Services LLC, which focuses on pediatric speech, occupational and physical therapies.

“It’s really amazing to hear the combination of these five small businesses in our community that cover such a wide scope of services and business offerings,” chamber President Matt Morrow said at the event. “They make up such an important small-business ecosystem for our community.”

Chamber officials estimated approximately 300 people attended the annual ceremony, which returned to a live event after being held virtually last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Founded in 1976, Harmony House’s work has impacted the lives of more than 20,000 women, men and children who have received the nonprofit’s services, according to the release.

It was originally incorporated as the Family Violence Center and began as a grassroots all-volunteer organization with survivors initially being sheltered in volunteers’ homes and area hotels, then in rented shelter homes. Its name was changed to Harmony House in 2010 and the nonprofit moved in 2017 to its current 168-bed facility on East Ridgeview Street, making it the largest domestic violence shelter in Missouri.

Farmer said the organization employs 42 with an annual operating budget of roughly $2.4 million.

Harmony House is the second nonprofit to win the chamber’s annual award, first presented in 1992. Ozarks Food Harvest received the award in 2011, according to chamber officials.

“For me, it’s just affirmation of our hard work and an additional acknowledgement that our community truly has embraced the work we do,” Farmer said after the chamber event. “Domestic violence is no longer something that we sweep under the rug and don’t want to talk about. That’s huge.”

A signature program for the nonprofit is its iCare campaign, started in 2015 to raise funds and draw attention to domestic violence. It’s held each October in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Farmer said the overall tally for this year is still to be finalized but expects it will finish at around $140,000. That’s up 12% from last year’s $125,000 total, she said, adding 178 businesses participated in the 2021 campaign.

The totals are still down from pre-pandemic levels, but Farmer said the organization is “thrilled” to exceed its $125,000 goal this year. “We’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

Honorees are selected based on written applications reviewed by a panel of judges comprising previous recipients, business experts and volunteers of the chamber’s Small Business Council. The council was founded by the late Curtis Strube, a former director at Drury University’s Breech School of Business Administration. Chamber officials say award recipients must have 50 or fewer employees.