The following are recepients of the 2017 Governor's Volunteer Service Awards.
Adult Award Recipients
Martina Mustroph, Urbana
Martina Mustroph holds an International Baccalaureate diploma from Atlanta International School. A recipient of the John I. Smith Scholarship for students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and commitment to service, Martina attended Davidson College in North Carolina, where she volunteered for two local free clinics. Martina started in the MD/PhD program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. A recipient of F30 NRSA fellowship from the National Institutes of Health, Martina completed her Ph.D. in neuroscience in December 2014. Martina has volunteered with Hermes Clinic, the student-run free clinic in Urbana-Champaign, since 2009. During her eight years in Urbana-Champaign, Martina served as clinic volunteer coordinator and as clinic co-director. Martina will graduate with an MD degree from the University of Illinois in May 2017. She will start residency training in neurosurgery at Brigham & Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA in June 2017.
Within her nomination for this award, it was highlighted that Martina worked to gain Hermes tax-exempt status as a non-profit, trained 20-30 first year medical students each year at the clinic, as well as expanded the clinic hours to better serve the students. Hermes is now being considered to be incorporated formally into the curriculum of the new college of medicine at the university, in part due to Martina’s coordination efforts.
David Cheeks, Chicago
David Cheeks was born on the Southside of Chicago. He graduated from Loop Junior College, with a degree in Data Programming. He proudly served his country for 22 years in the Navy Reserves. David worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago for 31 years, retiring in 2015. He has volunteered with various organizations for over 27 years including LaRabida Hospital, the Red Cross, Junior Achievement, and the Matthew House Chicago, of which he is on the Board of Directors. However, his greatest passion is the Greater Chicago Food Depository and its mission to end hunger. He helped institute a program while working at the Federal Reserve Bank to enable employees to volunteer at the GCFD once a month with the Bank, providing transportation to the Food Depository and back to the Bank after hours. His work with the GCFD keeps him busy in retirement! Helping others is his passion and mission.
David is the first Volunteer Lead for the innovative Fresh Truck program, where the food depository has formed an alliance with health centers throughout Cook County to bring fresh produce to patients that screen positively for malnutrition.
Vicki Cover, Dixon
Vicki Cover was born and raised in Dixon, Illinois. She graduated from Sauk Valley Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science and her degree as an LPN. 32 years ago, she met and married her wonderful husband Howard Cover. Together, they have three children, Josh, Jeremy, and Katie. Five years ago, they were blessed with a grandson, Kayden. Currently, Vicki is an LPN at KSB Hospital, where she also volunteers to help out at community events.
One of her favorite things to do is to help out around her community. For over ten years, she has coached basketball at Kreider Services, an organization that serves over 600 people with developmental disabilities a year. She loves that she gets to teach people with disabilities the game of basketball, and she gets to spend time with her brother, Brian, who is on the team. Vicki’s daughter, Katie has accompanied her the past 10 years while she was young, and now serves as Assistant Coach. This past year, Vicki and Katie helped in the development of a drumline at Kreider, working endless hours to teach people how to drum, twirl rifles and wave flags.
Vicki was nominated by Kreider Services in part for her teaching values of including the whole family in her volunteer projects. It is important to her that they learn the importance of giving back.
Jonathan H. N. Long, Glen Carbon
Jonathan H. N. Long is an Employment Specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital's Independence Center, where he bridges the gap between human resource departments and job candidates that battle severe and persistent mental illness. Jonathan graduated in 2011 from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. Immediately thereafter he matriculated into a Master of Arts program in Sociology at SIUE, earning the degree in 2014.
Upon graduating, Jonathan made the firm decision to become involved in his local community joining various civic, volunteering and professional organizations. Currently, Jonathan is a member of the St. Louis Urban League Young Professionals, Independence Center Young Professionals, the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources- St. Louis Chapter, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People- Edwardsville, IL Branch #3014 and the National Black MBA Association - St. Louis chapter.
Jonathan was nominated for his tremendous impact on the Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, and SIUE community with the support of the local NAACP for initiatives such as community town halls with Madison County police, facilitation of ACT prep courses for area youth, resume/job readiness workshops, and other numerous efforts.
Stephen Born, Springfield
Stephen Born was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. He received his mortuary science degree in 2001 and went on to receive his certification in craniofacial reconstruction in 2015. He was also awarded the highest funeral service award from the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice in 2016. Stephen started the Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) in August 2013 with just 28 individuals. Just 78 days after their initial training, Washington and Gifford, Illinois took a direct hit from tornadoes. Since they were trained beforehand, they responded immediately. Seeing a need for a non-profit disaster relief team in Central Illinois, Stephen was trained as both a disaster response instructor and chainsaw instructor. Since that time, he has trained over 700 volunteers in the past four years. Additionally, there are now over 80 chainsaw crews, comfort dogs, and counselors on the team. The LERT team responds to many disasters in the state and is recognized by over 15 emergency management agency county coordinators. Stephen averages seven basic trainings a year and two chainsaw trainings a year.
AmeriCorps Award Reciepients
Sarah Koeller, Conshohocken, PA (former resident of IL)
Sarah Koeller currently works as a Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planner at the Chester County Health Department in Southeastern Pennsylvania. She served as an Illinois Public Health Association AmeriCorps member at the McLean County Health Department in Central Illinois during the 2015-2016 term. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Villanova University in 2015, and is currently completing a Master of Public Health degree at Benedictine University. During her year of service, she worked on several programs, including managing the Functional Needs Mapping Program and its associated Community Assessment for Preparedness and Emergency Response (CASPER). Currently, her work at the Chester County Health Department includes volunteer management, medical countermeasure planning, and community resiliency initiatives. Her research interests include climate change influences on infectious disease patterns. The immersive work in public health emergency preparedness during her AmeriCorps term has proven vital to her current position and future goals.
Through Sarah’s efforts during her service at the McLean County, limited disaster resources will be assigned to the areas/populations within Bloomington-Normal with greatest need.
Genesis Rios, Chicago
Genesis Rios graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and soon after applied to the AmeriCorps program, National Health Corps Chicago. She chose CommunityHealth, the largest free clinic in the nation, as her site for the service term because she believes in the clinic’s mission that no one should go without essential healthcare. At CommunityHealth, she serves teaching patients about various health topics such as diabetes management, diabetes prevention, healthy cooking, and nutrition. She is also involved in patient outreach efforts, so that people who are uninsurable can find a medical home. Aside from her service at CommunityHealth, Genesis participates in other service projects throughout Chicago such as packing food for the Chicago Food Depository and painting apartments for youth in transitional housing. Genesis plans on receiving her Master’s degree in Public Health so that she can help reduce health disparities in Chicago.
Genesis was nominated due to her innovation when it comes to creating educational and promotional materials, ability to instruct diabetes education courses, and leadership over her team of 6 volunteers.
Melissa Calhoun, Rock Island
An Illinois native and life-long learner, Melissa Calhoun earned degrees from WIU and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1995, she and her husband returned to Macomb to co-found a family business which pioneered Internet services in western Illinois.
Having observed the benefits of AmeriCorps to the communities of Macomb and Monmouth, she was excited to become a member of AmeriCorps upon relocating to the Quad Cities. She is currently employed by Spoon River College as a math and science tutor. She also volunteers with the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport, Quad Cities Interfaith, and One Human Family QCA. And she looks forward to getting back into gardening this spring!
Melissa was nominated because she has become an integral part of the classroom working with 3-5 year olds at risk for failure in kindergarten. The classroom is in a bilingual preschool in the Floriciente Neighborhood in Moline. In part because of her assistance, classroom scores targeted for a 15% increase were actually a 49% increase.
Zorina “Ann” Brown, East St. Louis
Zorina “Ann” Brown is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois. She graduated cum laude from Lindenwood University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Ann began her career in the corporate sector, serving as executive assistant and office manager before transitioning to non-profits. As a lifelong champion of change in East St. Louis, Ann has dedicated her time, passion, and energy to providing opportunities for struggling families, women, and youth. AmeriCorps VISTA was the perfect fit for Ann to continue her work to bring families living in poverty the resources and guidance necessary for a more financially stable life. As a wife, mother, and dedicated community member, Ann strives to bring the VISTA mission and values to every aspect of her life.
Ms. Brown was nominated because after discovering that only 3 percent of high school students in East St. Louis tested as career ready, she developed a 6 week soft-skills curriculum that focuses on critical thinking and problem solving, interview and workplace etiquette, resume assistance, and professional communication. 47 students have completed the curriculum, and the goal is to spread the curriculum with other trainers to reach 150 youth.
Jamie Burns, Macomb
Jamie Burns is a member of the Peace Corps Fellows Program at Western Illinois University and a graduate student of the Health Sciences Department, where she studies Public Health with an emphasis on Community and Economic Development. Jamie is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who worked in the education sector teaching biology and health to secondary school students in a rural village in Tanzania from 2013 to 2015. She is a strong advocate of promoting equal access to healthcare and health education. Currently, Jamie is serving her second year as an AmeriCorps Volunteer at the McDonough County Health Department. Through her service, she has implemented community health programming that addresses health priority needs within McDonough County in regard to sexual health, oral health, obesity, and mental health. Every day she is thankful for additional opportunities to serve others through the work that she does.
Jamie was nominated because in her one year of part-time service, she accomplished 26 projects at the McDonough County Health Department to include goal and capacity development, increasing access to resources to promote sexual health, organizing a 5K run/walk, and implementing an education program for oral health, among other projects.
Business Award Recipients
Martin’s IGA Plus, Effingham
Martin's IGA Plus in Effingham specializes in groceries. There are a variety of needs in Effingham County that Martin’s IGA has helped to support. Martin’s IGA has parking lot cookouts several times throughout the spring, summer and fall, where a large portion of the proceeds go to whatever particular organization they have chosen to support with the cookout. They have been doing the charitable cookouts for years. The managers and staff of Martin’s IGA give of their time to cook hamburgers, pork burgers, hot dogs and other items during each charity cookout. Rather than just making a monetary donation to each organization, these cookout fundraisers provide a potential for the donation to be much larger than what the monetary donation may have been. Additionally, Martin’s IGA encourages their employees to volunteer within their communities and provide multiple suggestions of how they can serve others. Not only has Martin’s IGA been able to help many organizations thrive and survive, they have also brought awareness to the community about a need that exists for an organization that provides a valuable service to the community.
Motorola Mobility Foundation (MMF), Chicago
Motorola Mobility Foundation (MMF), the charitable arm of Motorola Mobility, A Lenovo Company, seeks to catalyze the innovative use of technology to improve lives and communities. They do this by leveraging employee expertise and talent, providing funding, and partnering with nonprofits, learning institutions, startups, government, corporate and civic organizations.
MMF focuses on:
- Education: Sparking innovative technology solutions for education and increasing access to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curricula.
- Entrepreneurship: Fostering entrepreneurship by anchoring local technology communities with holistic support for startups.
- Technology Access: Removing barriers and providing support to bring technology to the people who need it the most.
- Community Engagement: Supporting the communities where employees live and work and encouraging them to give back.
In 2016, MMF contributed 5,000 volunteer hours to reach nearly 500 organizations through creative, targeted support that leveraged both expertise and charitable giving.
For the award nomination, the relationship between MMF and Citizen Schools was highlighted. Citizen Schools connect students in underserved communities with the volunteers who teach 10-week long apprenticeships. During the past year, employees devoted over 600 hours of time specifically to this, in addition to over 350 hours to teaching STEAM-based apprenticeships.
Zimdars Air Condtioning, Heating, and Appliances, Louisville
Zimdars Air Conditioning, Heating, and Appliances have been in business for 26 years. They are located in Louisville, Illinois. Randy and Shelly Zimdars are the owners/operators and they employ five employees.
Zimdars was nominated due to the assistance they give Meals on Wheels of CEFS Nutrition Program. Meals on Wheels needed a place to drop off meals for home-delivered meal participants since there is not a congregate center in Louisville. There were several inquiries made at a variety of places, and when Zimdars heard about the problem, they offered space in their business for meals to be dropped off. Without their willingness to help, the Meals on Wheels of CEFS might have had to terminate meal service to the residents of the Louisville community. As a result of their generosity, 12 homebound individuals are able to continue receiving Meals on Wheels assistance.
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 240 retail stores across eight Midwestern states. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 10 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 5 favorite grocery stores. The company’s 84,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. Canton Hy-Vee and their 250+ employees have and will always be committed to the surrounding community. They know there are lots of moving pieces that lead to the enrichment and success of the community and all of the employees are committed to making Canton the best that they can. They are a small piece of the puzzle that makes Canton a great place to live, and they pride themselves in doing everything they can to help other local organizations.
Hy-Vee was nominated because they have been a significant sponsor to Fulton County in providing disaster response services and food to area emergency response agencies. On the afternoon of November 14, 2016, a large gas explosion rocked the community of Canton. The explosion destroyed one building, sending debris for 2 miles and damaging 60 others. During this event, Hy-Vee made sure the Salvation Army had every resource their store had to offer. They were there to help support the community and provide food and water to the emergency response community.
Senior Award Recipients
Larry Altenbaumer, Decatur
Larry F. Altenbaumer currently serves as the Executive Director of the Midwest Inland Port, LLC- a focused economic development initiative for Decatur and Macon County. He is the Chair of the Board of Decatur Memorial Hospital and serves on the boards of the Community Foundation, the Decatur Public Schools Foundation and the Energy Assistance Foundation. He serves on the leadership team of GROW DECATUR, a community-based initiative seeking to improve Decatur’s economic and quality of life attributes. Professionally, Mr. Altenbaumer is a board member for the Southwest Power Pool- where he is Vice-chair, the MYR Group and Summit Utilities. Mr. Altenbaumer received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering/computer science from the University of Illinois in 1970. He was a 2003 recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from its Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Larry and his wife Dheena are parents of two grown children and have four grandchildren.
Larry was nominated specifically for his efforts to the Grow Decatur initiative by establishing a grassroots effort in Decatur, where all members of the community from every race, occupation, working class, religion, political party, and age were brought together to determine ten areas of action as imperative to the city’s resurgence.
Richard Erickson, Wheaton
Richard Erickson is the president and founder of Bold Steps, Inc. - a business consulting company in Wheaton, Illinois launched in 2009. His journey started at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he graduated with an economics major and a computer science minor in 1982. He has been married to his wonderful spouse of 34 years, Tammy. Rick and Tammy have two sons: Matthew is a software engineer in Chicago, and Bradley is a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in North Carolina.
Rick started his professional career as a programmer trainee in 1984 at Household International and ended up as a global technology leader at HSBC where he travelled the world meeting with HSBC technology leaders in pursuit of technology standardization. In addition to running Bold Steps, Rick has a heart for community, and has found many opportunities to exercise this passion. Rick has been involved with numerous efforts within Wheaton to include serving as president of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce board; co-chairing the Taste of Wheaton; leading a community project to restore the local 1925 theatre; Downtown Wheaton board, and president of the Wheaton Lions Club.
For his award nomination, Rick is being honored for his efforts in founding the Reflections Framed, a Celebration of Military Service, Past and Present project in 2012, where nearly 200 Reflections (stories, photos, captions, and interviews) have been captured, celebrated, and archived with all event proceeds going to the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans.
Mark Lawrence, Rockford
Mark Lawrence was born and raised in Belvidere, Illinois. He was with 1st Cav Division as a combat infantryman in Vietnam in 1969. He graduated from Rock Valley College, Rockford; Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; and Purdue University, with advanced degrees in Computer Science. Mark retired from IBM after working for 28 years at the NASA/Johnson Space Center, Houston, as a Senior Computer Scientist on the space shuttle system.
Mark is the President Emeritus of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., Chapter 984 in Rockford, Illinois, having founded the chapter in March 2007. He has welcomed home over 26,000 returning troops at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport over a 6 year period from Iraq & Afghanistan. Mr. Lawrence started the first PTSD Service Dog program as a volunteer with the "Circle of Change" Veterans Service Dog program in South Beloit, Illinois, and received the first registered PTSD Service Dog, Glacieridge Kahuna (Katie). Mark is currently volunteering with the Rockford VA Clinic for the past 8 years following over 20 additional years volunteering at the Memphis, Tennessee, VA Hospital, and the Houston, Texas, VA Hospital, while residing in those cities. Mark served for many years as a Veterans Service Officer helping veterans get through the maze of the VA to get the benefits they earned, averaging 50 hours a week of volunteer service.
Ernest Collins, Mt. Vernon
Ernest J. Collins was born in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, graduated Mt. Vernon Township High School and attended Mt. Vernon Community College and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Ernie served in the United States Air Force. Upon returning to civilian life, he worked at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis and Illinois Power in southern Illinois. Ernie married his wife Brenda and together, they have two sons, daughters in law, and five grandchildren. He joined the Illinois State Police in 1964, retiring at the rank of Master Sergeant in 1991.
Ernie has been a volunteer firefighter with the Jefferson County Fire Protection District since 1969. Although close to 80 years old now, he still responds to more emergency calls than any other firefighter – over 500 per year and has received numerous awards. Ernie volunteers at a number of places throughout Jefferson County.
For his award nomination, Ernie is being honored specifically for his work with the American Legion. Ernie is the Chaplain for American Legion Post #141 in Mt. Vernon. He commands the Post #141 Rifle Salute Squad, personally overseeing nearly 100 funerals of area veterans each year. Ernie coordinates with area funeral directors, schedules the services, and ensures each veteran receives the final gratitude they deserve. Ernie personally talks to the grieving family about their loved ones service (many times educating the family), coordinates an actual rifle salute, and a “live” playing of TAPS. Only twice in over 1000 funerals, has a live playing of TAPS not occurred on Ernie’s watch.
Roger Crawford, Washington
Roger Crawford’s life was shaped by his grandfather, who died at home of prostate cancer when he was 13 years old. Seeing what his grandmother went through caring for his grandfather made an impression on him that he would only understand later in life. Roger knew that he wanted to do something to help people. After making a trip to the hospital with his brother who was diagnosed with epilepsy, he decided a career in health care was in his future. Roger went to Radiologic Technology School in Springfield and then Radiation Therapy School at Barnes in St. Louis. His education lead to a 40+ year career in Oncology, where he was privileged to try and help patients every day. His volunteering started with coaching baseball, basketball and soccer and moved into volunteering for the American Cancer Society (ACS) by trying to repay the ACS for the help they gave his patients.
Roger is specifically being honored for his more than 730 rides as a volunteer driver for the Road to Recovery program, in addition to his role in coordinating all drivers in 28 counties in Central Illinois. This program has been improved due to Roger’s efforts in tracking the program through technology and public education.
Senior Corps Award Recipients
Genevieve “Genny” Sutton, Sullivan
Genevieve "Genny" Sutton was born December 16, 1917 in rural Sullivan to G.O. "Ollie" and Marie (Dazey) Kidwell. The family moved to South Dakota and returned to Sullivan when Genny was eleven years old. Genny graduated from Sullivan High School in 1935 and was in the top 10 in her class. She married Marion Sutton in 1936 - he passed in 1987. Genny and Marion had two children - a daughter, Shirley Jean, who died when she was 15 months old and a son, Ronald Eugene. Genny also has 3 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren. Genny worked for Brown Shoe Company and in area grocery stores for 32 years and at First National Bank for 25 years. Genny is a lifetime member of First Christian Church where she attends each Sunday as she is able. She still enjoys playing cards with friends and volunteering.
Genny is being honored specifically for utilizing her love of sewing to help meet a need that was present particularly in the kindergarten classrooms of Moultrie County. She started hand-sewing quilts for the students to use during naptime. These quilts were an item of comfort to the students who were new to the school environment and were often times finding it difficult to adapt. To fulfull her dream for quilts for all kindergarteners in the county each year, Genny worked with the RSVP Coordinator to help recruit volunteers for the “Welcome to Kindergarten” project, which has been running for the past 19 years.
Sarah Marsh, Joliet
Foster Grandparent, Sarah Marsh, 81 years old, was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois. Sarah began volunteering for the Foster Grandparent Program for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, in 2002. Sarah looks forward to being at the school every day because she loves to help children with their reading, writing, pronouncing words and helping them with their math. She loves to see the children’s progress and be able to help them move to the next grade level. She is all about team work and helping in any way possible. Sarah is grateful to be able to give back to the community, the children of the future of America. Last year, Sarah served over 600 hours at Woodland Elementary School. Sarah is a gifted pianist and vocalist and she shares her love of music by providing music lessons to children in the community. A song comes to her mind, “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain.”
Beryl Hutson, Rockford
In 1967, Beryl Hutson emigrated from Cheltenham, England with her husband and four kids after her husband was recruited by Sundstrand as an Aerospace Engineer in Rockford. She and her husband did everything together until his passing in 2000. After he passed, Beryl sat at home knitting, wondering: “Is this what the rest of my life is going to look like? What do you have planned for me, God? There’s got to be more than this.” A friend introduced her to the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) where she began volunteering with Beginning Awareness Basic Education Studies (BABES), fire safety, and with seniors’ presentations.
In 2002, Beryl met a volunteer who invited her to the Boone County Jail, which she was not sure this was for her. This was a defining moment for her; she had found God’s direction. She loves volunteering at the County Jail and feels she can make a difference in the lives of others. She continuously develops new programs to meet the needs of the inmates. She has been volunteering with RSVP for 17 years.
Sharon Kossman, Swansea
Sharon Kossman, born near Wayne City, graduated from Breese Central High School in Illinois. She has 1 daughter, 2 sons, 8 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Sharon has worn many hats during her lifetime. She has owned a Dairy Queen, the Precious Poodle Salon and Hilltop Motors in Carlyle. She worked as a Deputy for the St. Louis County Sherriff’s Dept., the Volunteer Service Coordinator for the Department of Corrections in Centralia, and a Century 21 real estate agent. In 2005, she moved to Belleville and attended Southwestern Illinois College. Knowing the benefits of being a life-time learner, she continued taking classes from 2005-2010 and was the Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa.
Sharon Kossman has been a Senior Companion and a RSVP volunteer for the past 10 years. As a Senior Companion, she helped isolated, older adults continue living independently. As a RSVP volunteer, she reached out to the community by working in the local thrift shop and as a SeniorLink computer instructor. She has earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in both programs and contributed a combined 24,100 volunteer hours. The impact she has made is not only on others. Sharon knows first-hand that she receives far more than she gives through her volunteer service. Her dedication to putting others first should inspire all of us now and for future generations.
Joseph Sutcliffe, Quincy
Joe Sutcliffe was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and attended high school in a small Iowa town where he met his future wife, Corrine. They were married in 1952 and Joe graduated from the University of Iowa in 1954 with Bachelor of Science in mechanical and industrial engineering. Joe and Corrine have two children, Tom and wife Cathy….and Jean and husband Greg. They have been blessed with three grandchildren. If they had known grandchildren were so much fun, they would have had them first. Joe’s hobbies include bridge and ballroom dancing, which he taught Social Dance class for many years.
Since retiring in 1994, Joe been active in Quincy Golden K Kiwanis, serving currently Treasurer and was Distinguished Past President and Distinguished Past Lieutenant Governor. Joe has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity; Horizons Soup Kitchen; and was the Oldest Honor Flight Guardian for WWII Veteran. Joe is specifically being honored for his 8,531 hours volunteering for a variety of organizations in the last 19 years. Joe was part of the United Way of Adams County Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) team that assisted 1,147 individuals and families to file their federal and state income tax returns resulting in $1,950,788 in federal and state income tax refunds. Joe’s active coordination of the transportation program made it possible for 42 clients to make 220 trips to Blessing Cancer Center and other providers.
Youth Award Recipients
Lily Alter, Oak Park
Lily Alter is 15 years old and lives in a near west suburb of Chicago with her parents and her brother, when he's home from college. Lily attends Oak Park and River Forest High School, where her favorite classes are history and choir. She started her campaign, FlowKits, to provide menstrual supplies in convenient kits to homeless women in April 2016 and has raised more than $11,000. Her English teacher, Lynn Gilbertsen, assigned a mock grant application as a real world writing assignment, and she inspired Lily to expand her assignment into a GoFundMe campaign. Lily's close friend, Abby Bankes, was instrumental in getting the pilot program off the ground and continues to work with Lily to expand FlowKits in order to reach women at Housing Forward shelters in the western suburbs and Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park on the west side of Chicago. Lily is considering a career in nonprofit management and would like to travel.
Victoria Kuzlik, Byron
Victoria Kuzlik is a 13 year old 7th grader at Byron Middle School, Byron, Illinois. She and her father were victims of domestic violence and received assistance from a local domestic violence shelter. As a survivor, she wanted to give back to those who helped her. She founded “Coats for Hope” at the age of 11. She’s raised over 7,000 coats and over $15,000 for 5 domestic violence shelters. She has become a spokesperson and the face of domestic violence epidemic in the area. She has even bigger plans for the coming year’s drive. She gives an average of 2 speaking engagements for various community organizations and media events a week. She has been student of the month, omni student of the year, member of the volleyball team, track team, student council, and performs in local theater. She lives with her father and her 2 dogs and has a 23 year old sister.
Jha’Shaira Farmer, East St. Louis
Jha’Shaira Farmer is a member of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, where she is actively involved with the positive growth and development of youth in the community. She is a senior at East St. Louis Sr. High School where she is currently in the top two percent of her graduating class with a 4.3 grade point average. She is a member of several organizations in her high school including but not limited to the National Honor Society, President of the Senior Class, President of the Student Council, and Vice President of the International Beta Society. She has also been recognized and awarded with the opportunity to serve on the East St. Louis School District 189 Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board. She is currently deciding which Historic Black College or University she will attend after graduation for a degree in accounting and pre-law, while serving as a reservist in the United States Navy. Her ultimate goal is to become a federal judge and an entrepreneur.
Over the past three years, Jha’Shaira has participated in a movement in the community called East Side Aligned. East Side Aligned works to make sure all kids in East St. Louis are healthy and safe, ready for school and work, and empowered to make change. Through East Side Aligned, she works with other youth through a youth council to lead change in the community.
Riley Moran, Peoria
Riley Moran is a freshman at Dunlap High School. He began volunteering at Neighborhood House Association when he was 8 years old. For the past 5 years, Riley has organized a family dance party and competition to benefit Neighborhood House which has allowed him to use his love for ballroom dance to raise more than $17,000 for the organization. He also collected more than 1000 toys for the annual Neighborhood House Christmas toy shop. In addition to these two major projects each year, Riley volunteers regularly at Neighborhood House, and particularly likes spending time with the elementary school children who come to Neighborhood House for their evening meal. Riley is an Honor student, Boy Scout and a member of the Scouting National Honor Society Order of the Arrow. He also ballroom dances and participates in the Table Tennis Club at school.