Governor's Hometown Awards Winners - 2017

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Governor's Cup Winner

Macon County - “WSOY Community Food Drive”

WSOY Community Food DriveHunger is not a problem that is unique to any one community in America. Nor is a local food drive to help food pantries in times of shortage. However, a community coming together and partnering with major corporations to create one of the largest one-day food drives in the nation is unique. A one-day food drive that not only supplies the community’s food banks for an entire year, but serves as the benchmark and example of best practices for communities around the nation. In 2016, the WSOY Community Food Drive raised 1.4 million pounds of food in 12 hours.


East St. Louis - “Join Hands Advo​cacy Project”​

​​​Join Hands Advo​cacy ProjectJoin Hands ESL is comprised of more than 100 volunteers which aims to break the cycle of generational poverty and by doing so they advocate to empower East Saint Louis citizens. Through the advocacy project a member is placed inside of a school, to a teacher, where they help identify students who maybe struggling, or even social and emotional issues. Whenever an issue arises they work alongside the parent and teacher to fulfill that child's need. Whether it be helping a parent get their child extra services, or just building a healthy relationship with that family, whatever it takes to make sure that the student performs to the best of their ability academically, as well as socially. East Saint Louis faces many challenges from crime to unemployment, the advocate’s role is sometimes vital to a families’ knowledge base. New issues arise every day, leaving more and more of a need to educate citizens in the community.

Kewanee - “Step Ladder Tutoring Program”

Kewanee AmeriCorpsStep Ladder Tutoring Program has targeted middle school (ages 12-14) special education, borderline, and struggling general education students needing academic assistance as the main focus. The Step Ladder Tutoring Program utilizes the experience and expertise of certified middle school teachers as site coordinators, plus a network of community volunteers, peers, high school, college students and AmeriCorps members as tutors. During the 2014-2015 school term, all eighth grade students participating in the Step Ladder Tutoring program got promoted to the ninth grade. 75% of students improved skill mastery in core subject areas of math and reading and 80% of students improved attendance rates and their attitude toward school and learning.

Waterloo - “Monroe County House of Neighborly Service”

Waterloo Food PantryWhen the House of Neighborly Service (HNS) formed in 2015, the primary goal was for all of the various community organizations and church groups to come together and more efficiently and effectively provide help to the community. One of their first services was to manage the City of Waterloo telephone helpline. People are able to call this line for anything and everything that they may need assistance with in their lives; such as: paying rent, finding a job, needing food, a car repair, domestic abuse, just to name a few. The help line turned into a huge asset, leaving volunteers wanting to do more. The group began to work with the local food bank, eventually transforming a city-owned garage into an Emergency Food Pantry to supplement the existing pantry. Other community needs are being met to include summer feeding and career readiness for community members.

Project Winners

Charleston - “Lake Charleston Trail System”

Lake CharlestonIn late 2013, a group of local bicycle advocates met to brainstorm ideas on how best to improve the Lake Charleston trail system. In early 2014, the trail system consisted of approximately 2 miles of single track trails around the Lake Charleston area. With the support of the City of Charleston, volunteers and private partnerships, in 2014 a team of volunteers and public works personnel began the painstaking work of improving existing trails and hand building additional single track trails around Lake Charleston. This trail work was done with close counsel of the International Mountain Bike Association. These trails were hand built with every effort to maximize sustainability and minimize impact. From 2014 – 2016, the Lake Charleston Trail system accomplishments included the improvement of 2 miles of existing trails and adding an additional 7 miles of new trails; for a total of 9 miles of quality trails around Lake Charleston.

Collinsville - “Hometown Heroes”

Hometown HeroesCollinsville residents Pat and Leonard Reitz came up with the idea for this project in 2015 to honor Collinsville military veterans. They partnered with the City of Collinsville to display banners throughout the Uptown area in the City. The project focused on creating banners for local veterans and to have them displayed for the community to learn about, remember, and honor our local military heroes. Families submitted applications to have banners created for their loved ones who served in the military. In the first year of the program, 139 local veterans from WWI to the present were honored with banners displayed on the street lights of Uptown Collinsville. We had many more applications for banners to be displayed the following year, and the program will continue as long as residents support the project and submit requests for banners.

Fairfield - “FNB Field”

FNB FieldThe goal of the project was to build a baseball field for Frontier Community College (FCC) and community to utilize. The venue has become one of the finest junior college baseball fields in Southern Illinois. Both college and community games have been played on the field. The project, however, has accomplished so much more. The way the Fairfield community came together in support of the project was nothing less than amazing and inspiring. The spirit of volunteerism and community was evident through all of the donations of time (labor) and money through a variety of fundraising efforts at the community level and the college’s booster club, the Bobcat Club at a time when potential government funding was not available.

Fulton County - “Canton Gas Explosion”

Canton Strong On November 16, 2016, the town of Canton and County of Fulton was changed in an instant. The town was rocked by a gas explosion that destroyed 1 building and damaged 66 other buildings. Two other buildings were left uninhabitable and 6 apartment buildings were evacuated. The explosion was felt as far away as 1 mile and quickly reached all of the major news networks, including nationwide. The explosion occurred in the very heart of the community and affected the main business center. In addition to public safety agencies, many voluntary agencies and volunteers themselves helped to ensure that Canton recovered from this incident. The Canton Chamber of Commerce also ensured that businesses were informed and assisted so that they could get up and running again. Overall, this response ensured the minimizing of residents affected, job loss, and tax revenue loss so that the community could be reminded that they were Canton Strong.

Galesburg - “Galesburg Heart & Soul”

Heat and Soul Wall Galesburg Heart & Soul project is a resident-driven community revitalization effort developed and tested by the Orton Family Foundation. Its objective is to allow residents to voice what they value most about their hometown to build a stronger and healthier community. The process collected the input of residents from different walks of life and builds an action plan to guide all stakeholders to develop a healthier and more economically vibrant community for all. It teaches residents how best to engage their community.

Godfrey - “Beverly Farm Foundation”​

Cookie baking Beverly Farm Foundation is a loving, caring home for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, providing each individual quality of life with opportunities and challenges within each individual’s functional capabilities. Beverly Farm Foundation offers 400 job opportunities to the community enable them to continue to provide a loving and caring home for the residents. 130 volunteers are a huge part of day to day life at Beverly Farm Foundation as well. Three major fund raisers are held each year, to help cover the cost of care for the residents. As a non-profit organization, Beverly Farm Foundation is blessed with wonderful neighbors, friends and churches (local and from out of state) volunteer with to complete tasks with and for the residents. The staff and residents realize the importance of giving back and being active members of their community.

Lanark - “Workation 2016”

Lanark workers A steering committee of volunteers from Lanark First Brethren Church who previously were involved in service project trips out of town began to sense the need of a more local, neighbor-helping-neighbor type of program in and around Lanark. Thus, Workation 2016 was created-to invite volunteers to share vacation time working to help friends and neighbors. These projects were simple maintenance, safety upgrades, landscaping, clean-up type projects at no cost to the project hosts. 30 different projects around town were completed by 30 volunteers. Many of the volunteers were just committed to one day but ended up working 4-5 days.

LaSalle County - “LaSalle County Naloxone Program”

Naloxone program LaSalle County Medical Reserve Corps volunteers in 2016 trained 103 police officers from ten different departments throughout LaSalle and other surrounding counties regarding opioid overdose. The Opioid Overdose 101 classes are two hours long and include all of the necessary elements provided by both approval agencies and a hands-on portion. After the course and test, officers can begin carrying the nasal naloxone, which counteracts an opioid overdose-a national epidemic. Less than one month after the first class had been taught, the program had its first save using the nasal naloxone.

Rock Island - “Kids engaged in Natural Growth (KING)”

Rock Island Tutoring The Martin Luther King Center provides the Kids Invested in Natural Growth (KING) Program for youth ages 6-18. The program provides a variety of activities to provide safe and enriching activities and promote academic success. Activities include homework help, sports and recreation, service learning, mentoring, life skills, and character development. The program reaches approximately 1,200 youth annually in the City of Rock Island. 35 steadfast volunteers make yearlong commitments to the sport related components while an additional 15 are engaged with the afterschool and summer day programs.

Round Lake Beach (Project Runner Up); “Mobile Eye-VIPS”

Mobile Eye-VIPS Mobile Eye-VIPS is a volunteer group structured, trained, equipped, and uniformed under the guidance of the police department. During the project period, the group averaged 40 volunteers and met its goal to supplement emergency services with a professional self-sustaining group. The group was primarily utilized for supplementing patrol efforts for major events; parades, festivals, and firework displays. The group was also summoned for emergency assistance during fires, traffic crashes, and search and rescue efforts.