The following are recepients of the 2011 Governor's Volunteer Service Awards.
Southern Illinois Award Recipients
Mallory Dawn Hammell
Mallory Hammell is a senior at Carmi-White County High School. She is the daughter of Kevin & Pam Hammell, and has a younger sister, Shelby, all of Crossville. Mallory lives on a 4th generation family farm in southern Illinois. She has shown pigs at local fairs and owns a small business where she has a farrow- to -finish operation. Mallory spends her summers showing at local county fairs and mentoring younger children who show livestock.
Mallory enjoys being active in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) at local, regional, and state events. Her passion is helping others, whether it is volunteering at the nursing home or feeding needy families in her community. Mallory takes pride in her community and state. She is planning to attend Wabash Valley College in the fall to major in Ag Business/ Ag Education.
For her volunteer service to the University of Illinois Extension Service, White County 4-H, Mallory was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Amy M. Simpson is a native of Carterville, Illinois. She is married to Ron Simpson and they have three children, ages 23, 22 and 16. Amy has been an employee of the City of Carterville for 13 years and works as the Accounts Receivable Clerk for the Water and Sewer Department.
Gum Drops, NFP began as a mission project for the young ladies of the First Baptist Church of Carterville back in January 2008. Drops began feeding 12 at-risk children in the Carterville school district. This program has grown by leaps and bounds since then. Gum Drops is currently feeding over 1200 at-risk children every week throughout Southern Illinois. Gum Drops is in 6 different Southern Illinois counties, 12 school districts, and over 36 schools. According to Amy, this program would not work without its wonderful volunteers. Every week, Gum Drops has numerous volunteers to pack the bags, unload trucks, and deliver the bags to all the different schools.
For her volunteer service to Gum Drops, Amy was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Dr. Carl DauBach
Dr. Carl DauBach is a St. Clair County native. He earned a Bachelors Degree at Pennsylvania State University and went on to earn his Masters Degree at the University of Iowa and his Ph.D. at the University of Kansas. He has also attended Air Command and Staff College and Air War College. Carl enlisted in Navy in 1964 and was later commissioned in the Air Force before retiring in 2004 in the grade of Colonel.In 2006, Carl was the founding board member of "Conserving Lands in Farm, Forest, Talus or Prairie" (Clifftop) --a, non-profit, conservation organization and land trust focused on preserving and protecting the Mississippi River bluff land corridor in Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair Counties. He currently serves as the organization's executive director.
Since its founding, CLIFFTOP, (which is an all-volunteer organization,) has contributed 16,500 volunteer hours toward conservation information-education programs and natural area stewardship practices. The organization has also orchestrated and garnered 2 million dollars in grant funds for outreach and stewardship programs and land acquisition.
For his volunteer service to CLIFFTOP, Carl was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Born in Chillicothe, Ohio, Ben Taylor has lived in the Midwest for most of his life. However, this has not stopped him from traveling extensively. After a year teaching in South Korea, Ben spent 3 months backpacking through Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. As a second-year member of Belleville AmeriCorps, he has made every effort to give back to the communities in southern Illinois that raised him. This has included organization of an after-school tutoring program, several Day of Service events, and a neighborhood barbecue in the summer of 2010. In March 2011, Ben brought a group of Belleville AmeriCorps volunteers to help with a trash clean-up sponsored by Clean Water AmeriCorps, which is based in St. Louis.
Following this year with AmeriCorps, Ben has been accepted into Humboldt State University's Masters International program (a hybrid academic program with the Peace Corps) and he possesses a larger goal of becoming an international teacher. His favorite pastimes include hiking and reading.
For his AmeriCorps volunteer service to Belleville AmeriCorps, Ben was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Jean Domingez is one of eight siblings raised on a farm outside Mt. Vernon, IL. On the farm, the family raised enough produce and meat to share with local food pantries and neighbors. Jean recalls her father saying "if you need something to do, there is always someone who needs your help". As a child she did just that, and so began Jean's foundation in volunteering.
For the past 23 years, Jean has served as the Coordinator for the State of Illinois "Run for the Wall." "The Run for the Wall" is a group of veterans who travel from California to Washington D.C. by motorcycles to view the Memorial Wall over the Memorial Day weekend. As coordinator of the Run, Jean works with others involved to provide food, fuel, supplies, and respite for the riders in Mt. Vernon as they pass through on their way to Washington D.C. Jean also joins the trek giving support the rest of the way.
Along with Jean's strong love for her country, she also has a strong love of children, which she is able to share as she volunteers with the One Hope United Foster Grandparent Program. Through this program is able to share her love of our country with the children she serves. It is her hopes that they will be as proud of our country as she is.
For her Senior Corps volunteer service to the One Hope United Foster Grandparent Program, Jean was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
East Central Illinois Award Recipients
Abigail is a junior at Teutopolis High School in Central Illinois. She was raised by her parents, Robert and Janette Westendorf, and she has an older brother, an older sister and a younger sister.
Abigail started 4-H when she was eight years old and has been in it ever since. She is currently involved in three 4-H clubs two of which are "The Country Cousins 4-H Club" and "The Effingham County 4-H Youth Ambassadors." Abigail co-founded the third 4-H club, "The Ladies Club;" which is a group of older special needs women. This club allows the ladies to try different projects and show off their skills to the other ladies in the club. Abigail helped start this club by writing grants to earn money so the ladies could be enrolled in 4-H and have their own showing category at the county fair. "The Ladies Club" meets almost every week. In addition to 4-H Meetings, the club members also get to work on new projects such as planting flowers, painting, baking and much more. Abigail enjoys spending time with these ladies because it shows how much a task writing a grant, can change the lives of many people in such a positive way.
For her volunteer service to the University of Illinois Extension Effingham County 4-H Program, Abigail was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
After being out of college for five years, Derrick became a member of the Frontiers International Club of Springfield in 1991 and was asked to head their Positive Youth Development (PYD) Troop 33 Program, which targeted 6th – 8th grade African American males in the Springfield Community. Once the PYD Group was in place and progressing, Derrick was then asked to head up the Jr. Frontier Crew 33 Club which targeted young men in high school.
This mentoring program has afforded Derrick the opportunity to create various programs appropriate for reaching and teaching young men to embrace and excel in education, take on various leadership roles and become good citizens in their communities.
In addition to the Youth component of the Frontiers Club, Derrick has mentored young men in both the Lincoln Challenge Program, and Vachel Lindsey Elementary School's Summer Program, 6th, 7th & 8th Grade young men at Grant Middle School, and he currently mentors students one-on-one at Grant Middle School. Derrick has been volunteering for twenty years and he says it has truly been rewarding.
For his volunteer service to the Springfield Urban League/Frontiers International Springfield Club, Derrick was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Bobby Hall has spent much of his life serving the communities in which he resides. From his early years of being active in the civil rights movements and helping out the most disadvantaged people in his home state of Alabama, to his current role as Board Chair for Central Counties Health Centers, Inc., Mr. Hall has over 35 years of volunteering in the community.
Over the years, Bobby has been an advocate and mentor for children, helped the advancement of education of African-American children and professionals, served as an Ombudsman for the elderly and has helped shape the health care environment for those who need it most in the Springfield community.
As Board Chair for the Central Counties Health Centers, Inc., Bobby has had a direct impact on the health care to over 17,000 individuals in this community. He has been involved with CCHC since before it became a federally qualified health center, when it was a group of volunteer physicians who just wanted to help out those without insurance. He has helped mold CCHC into what it is today, from a small group of volunteer physicians to an organization that employs 11 full time physicians, 2 full time nurse practitioners and 4 full time dentists, a health care program for the homeless program and plans to expand further in this community and others.
For his volunteer service to the Central Counties Health Centers, Inc, Bobby was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
William Nesbitt is a senior at Catlin High School in Catlin, Illinois. While attending high school, he has been involved in many extracurricular activities and organizations. William has participated in track and field all four years of high school as well as three years of soccer and one year of cross country. He has also been involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, Students Against Destructive Decisions, FFA, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
As well as his involvement in extracurricular activities and organizations, William has also been very active in local politics. His love of politics and the governmental process empowered him to host a town hall meeting for his high school's required service-learning project. Four candidates running for State Representative and State Senate from the local district and two candidates running for United States Representative attended. In addition to planning the event, William also moderated the town hall meeting with over one hundred people in attendance. William says it was a very humbling experience knowing that a kid in high school could go out and plan an event like this and make it so successful.
For his Learn and Serve volunteer service to the City of Catlin, William was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Ed Gaskill graduated from Wayne City High School in 1953 and went on the attend Southern Illinois University before transferring to and graduating from the University of Illinois.
Ed was employed as an Agriculture and General Science teacher at Newman High School for four years before holding teaching positions at Bismarck High School and Kansas High School. He became principal of Kansas High School in 1966 and continued to teach. Three years later, he accepted a principal position at the junior high school in Lincoln, but Ed returned to Kansas a few years later as the school's superintendent. He remained in this position for 13 years before accepting Superintendent positions at several other schools. After serving as Business manager at East Moline Elementary School, Ed retired in 1997 and moved to Lake Sara in Effingham.
After retirement, Ed worked for CEFS doing taxes and tutoring. He even tutored a Nicaraguan resident and helped him work towards becoming a U.S. citizen. Ed also taught Rules of the Road at a Senior Center and worked in Money Management for four years. For his AmeriCorps volunteer service to the Effingham City/County Committee on Aging, Ed was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
As a mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of five, Beverly has had a great deal of experience with children. She has truly enjoyed being a Foster Grandparent Volunteer at Lee Elementary and Asbury Children's Supper Hour. Beverly feels that becoming a volunteer has enabled her to help children develop their God-given potential, and she says it feels great knowing she can be part of the solution.
Beverly is currently working with a number of special need students from kindergarten through 3rd grade; many of these children have behavioral issues. Her personal goal is to help reach these children while they are young because working with the children now can help prepare them for future grade levels. Beverly enjoys reading with the students and especially working on puzzles with them. She feels the puzzles help the children develop patience and focus. Beverly enjoys being part of a program where she can share her love for working with children and feel like she is helping a student succeed at meeting certain goals. She says she feels honored for the recognition she is receiving through this award and she will continue to give back to her community through her work with children.
For her Senior Corps volunteer service to the One Hope United Foster Grandparent Program, Beverly was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
West Central Illinois Award Recipients
Robin Forney resides in Brimfield, IL with her husband, Robert. They have four boys, all who have participated in 4-H under her leadership. Robin has been a volunteer 4-H Leader with the University of Illinois Extension, Peoria County, for eight years. Jubilee Patriots 4-H Club is also under her co-leadership, presently having a concentration in Robotics and Community Service.
Additionally, Robin has been a member of the Brimfield United Methodist Church for 35 years, Peoria County Auction Committee Member for 3 years, Peoria County Co-Poultry Superintendent for 3 years, and was named the 2008 Peoria County 4-H Leader of the Year. Patricia also assisted the Brimfield Fire Protection District for 4 years with their address sign campaign.
For her volunteer service to the University of Illinois Extension 4-H Program, Robin was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Billy Stiegemeier is a lifelong resident of Staunton. He graduated from Staunton High School and served in the US Army during World War II, earning a Bronze Star as a member of the 87th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge.
Billy was a three term Staunton City council member. Since his retirement, he has become very involved with the Gateway Chapter of the World War II Veterans of the Battle of the Buldge. He has also become very involved supporting the Disabled American Veterans. He has led fundraising efforts to support the purchase of two new vans to transport Veterans to the VA hospitals in St. Louis by raising more than $45,000 in donations. He has also been the driver coordinator since 1998. On average, more than 700 Veterans have benefitted from transportation to their medical facilities each year. The vans have traveled in excess of 200,000 miles and are driven by volunteers who have expended more than 22,000 hours of donated time.
For his volunteer service to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1241, Billy was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Isaac Pizzo is 22 years old and has lived in Illinois most of his life. He was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and moved to the small town of Hettick, Illinois when he was three. In his free time, Isaac enjoys playing roller hockey, working on computers and researching aircrafts in the civil world and military. He also enjoys visiting new places such as Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Mexico. Issac is currently an amateur radio operator and secretary of the Macoupin County Amateur Radio Club. He plans to attend college for a degree in Criminal Justice.
Isaac served as a Hettick Volunteer Fireman and secretary for the organization for 3 years. He has also been an American Diabetes Association Tour De Cure (a Bike Event) communication volunteer for 3 years and a communications volunteer for a Capital City Century Ride (another bike event) for 2 years. Currently, Isaac volunteers for Macoupin County Emergency Management Agency, where he designs and maintains 5 websites, including those of county agencies. He is a trained National Weather Service storm spotter and serves as an AmeriCorps member through Illinois Public Health Association as an emergency preparedness volunteer. Isaac says he enjoys his work and takes a lot of pride in his job.
For his AmeriCorps volunteer service to the Macoupin County Public Health Department, Isaac was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Dr. John Fendrich
Dr. John Fendrich joined RSVP of Peoria and Tazewell Counties in February of 2004 and has served with a variety of organizations including The American Red Cross- Disaster Services, Habitat for Humanity, STAR events with RSVP, SHIP, Community Workshop and Training Center, Common Place, and Project Upward for a total of 4,289 volunteer hours.
Currently, John volunteers with three organizations, CWTC, Common Place, and Project Upward. At CWTC, John proved weekly individual tutorial services in computer training to individuals with developmental, mental health, and physical disabilities. At Common Place, John volunteers as a volunteer tutor for adult literacy and a math tutor. For Project Upward, John tutors individual adults on reading and computers.
For his Senior Corps volunteer service to the RSVP of Peoria and Tazewell Counties, John was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Northwest Illinois Award Recipients
Ezekiel D. Hartman
Ezekiel Hartman is a senior at Eastland High School in Lanark, Illinois. A three-sport athlete, Zeke is an Illinois State Scholar and was recently named to the IHSA All-State Academic Team (Honorable Mention.) He's been an avid volunteer since he was very young – Zeke used to help out on food drives and United Way charity auction events. Currently, he's a member of Highland Community College's Servant Leadership program and is President of the Freeport Community Foundation's Youth Advisory Council.
He served a one of the first board members for the Freeport Community Foundation's Youth Advisory Council (YAC). He currently serves as its President. The Council works to support other youth organizations through fundraising and grant support. Last year, YAC was able to support five local initiatives with $2,900 in funding. He hopes to build on this so that more organizations can be supported in future years.
Zeke's future plans include attending Augustana College to major in pre-medicine as he works toward is career goal of becoming an anesthesiologist.
For his volunteer service to the Freeport Community Foundation - Youth Advisory Council (YAC), Ezekiel was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
When Ed Leach retired in 2000, he called Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity and said he "wanted to help." He felt his experience was perfect for Habitat for Humanity, even though he had never built a house.
Ed recently ended a 10-year stretch of serving on the Board of Directors and as Volunteer Construction Lead for RAHFH. While volunteering an average of 40 hours per week between April and September, he supervised the construction of 62 homes and the rehabilitation of another 10. These homes are sold at-cost with a zero interest loan. The average homeowner pays approximately $470 a month in mortgage, including tax and insurance escrow. Their mortgage is 25% of their monthly income.
Thanks to Ed leading the volunteer construction force, these working families now have a monthly mortgage payment of over $200 less than the fair market rent in the community. Finally, these families have an opportunity to invest in a home.
For his volunteer service to the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity, Edward was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Patricia has spent her entire life working with children in one regard or another. She has two children of her own with her husband Jim of 39 years. When her children were young, Patricia assisted their teachers in the classroom and worked with her children's Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and youth groups. Patricia also has experience working with Middle School students in a Special Education Behavior Disorder Classroom and teaching disaster preparedness to elementary students. She even served as the director of two groups that worked with juvenile delinquents, at-risk youth and families, and the homeless.
For the past two years, Patricia has served as an AmeriCorps member with the Illinois Public Health Association through the Winnebago County Health Department. She serves at John F. Kennedy Middle School as a facilitator for The Anti-Bulling Second Step Program. Patricia is also the founder and director of Kennedy Middle Schools Violence Enders group, which engages in various community projects and meets several times each week with the goal of creating Peace Advocates throughout the school.
For her AmeriCorps volunteer service to the Winnebago County Health Department and Kennedy Middle School, Patricia was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Ed was born in Saunemin, Illinois, in Livingston County. He currently lives in Moline with his two German Shepherds. He graduated from Illinois State University with a Masters Degree in Business Education. He then taught Business Subjects in various Illinois High Schools for over 40 years. He retired from Moline High School in 1991.
He was a 4-H Club leader for 30 years, and he been a member of RSVP in Rock Island County since 1992. He is a past President of the RSVP. He helped to smoothly transition the RSVP from one sponsor to another. He volunteers weekly for the senior Center Computer Center, sponsored by Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging. He coordinates and helps publish a bi-monthly newsletter for the Computer Center.
For his Senior Corps volunteer service to the RSVP of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois, and Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging, Ed was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Northeastern Illinois Award Recipients
Andrew Katcha is a freshman at New Trier High School in Winnetka. As part of his Eagle Scout Project, Andrew developed and implemented a plan to reduce the carbon footprint at the Joseph Sears School in Kenilworth, IL. This environmental program focused on teaching students and adults the essentials of recycling, setting up a recycling plan, setting up lunchroom waste sorting for composting and purchasing recycling equipment. On behalf of the Sears School and with the help of Dr. Kelley Kalinich, Superintendent of District 38, Andrew applied for and was awarded a grant of $9,000 from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Grant money facilitated the purchase of eco-friendly equipment such as recycling bins, composters, and more.
Andrew's efforts were supported by teachers, other students and organizations. The Sears School Student Advisory Board prepared and gave classroom presentations on recycling and members from Andrew's scout troop volunteered in the lunchroom for six weeks to help with the organic waste sorting effort.
For his volunteer service to the Joseph Sears School, Andrew was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Virginia Neuckranz (Adult Category) & Thomas Neuckranz (Senior Category)
Tom and Ginny Neuckranz were born and raised in the Chicagoland area. They met in 1982, and were married and started a family within a year. Tom worked as a trial attorney in downtown Chicago, while Ginny took care of their three beautiful daughters, Kristin, Laura, and Erika, making their family complete.
In 2004, the family was shocked and devastated when their youngest fourteen year old daughter, Erika, succumbed to clinical depression and took her own life. Tom and Ginny decided to do something in Erika's memory that would help make changes, so that others would not have to endure a similar loss of a child.
They, along with friends, founded the not for profit, Erika's Lighthouse: a Beacon of Hope for Adolescent Depression. The organization strives to educate the community, particularly young people, about depression and good mental health. Up to this point, there were no educational curriculums teaching young people what depression and its treatment look like, and how to treat a friend that is struggling with depression. The subject was just not discussed by young people at school. Erika's Lighthouse has a presence in over 54 schools in the Chicagoland area now.
With the Erika's Lighthouse programs, our area is reminded that depression is a common illness, is treatable, and should be addressed.
For his volunteer service to the Joseph Sears School, Andrew was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Tyler Maly is a junior from Island Lake, Illinois. After graduating high school, he plans to attend college. Tyler is considering becoming a social worker for students with emotional disorders and is also interested in building trades due in part to his involvement in the service learning projects during his high school career.
Tyler has been involved in a wide range of Service Learning projects, often displaying true leadership. He is not afraid to get in there and get projects done whether he is on the floor communicating with an Autistic child or helping to rehab a porch for an elderly couple in need. He was instrumental in coaxing a previously, non-verbal child's spoken input about what courage meant to that child. Those ideas were later included by Tyler into an original story book to be shared with other students. Tyler's service projects have also included helping to build an outdoor, screened classroom, creating a welcoming entrance for a local grade school and participating in clearing a trail around a pond used by students with severe physical disabilities.
From young children, to peers, to adults, to the elderly, Tyler has shown a caring heart and a listening ear. He is often the Foreman of the Building Trades crew, reflecting his personal philosophy of, "Just show me what needs to be done and I will get on it. I had to learn the hard way, but now I'd rather be working on something helpful than getting in trouble."
For his Learn and Serve volunteer service to the Clyd Lash Academy, Tyler was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
In January 2009, Joy resigned from a part-time paid position with Home of the Sparrow, a transitional shelter program for single or pregnant women and mothers. Joy had been a part of the program since its inception over 25 years ago.
Joy has played many roles with Home of the Sparrow over these many years (both paid and unpaid) and her decision to focus on volunteer recruitment this past year under the AmeriCorps Program has made a significant impact. Joy is extremely personable and is gifted in her ability to engage people and discover their hidden talents that can promote personal growth and self-esteem. Joy has established connections within the community where future recruitment efforts can be made annually and keeps meticulous records of her contacts. She also trains other volunteers in public speaking on Home of the Sparrow in an effort to create a "speaker's bureau" that can be accessed as opportunities arise.
She never says "no" to an outreach opportunity and has conducted more than 140 volunteer interviews and placements at Home of the Sparrow this year. Joy was required to perform 900 hours of community service through her AmeriCorps contract; yet provided 1,200 hours, demonstrating her dedication to Home of the Sparrow's mission.
For her AmeriCorps volunteer service to Home of the Sparrow, Joy was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.
Paul Gantz joined the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) program under the Senior Services Associates, Transportation Program in September 2009, after moving to the area from North Port, Florida where he had also volunteered for various projects.
Paul is one of many volunteers who transport seniors who can no longer drive to doctor appointments, therapy sessions, dialysis treatments, and any other "need based" appointments. Paul is also reliable: He is available when a last minute request comes through and he will still get the patron to his appointment on time! Paul's compassion, empathy, and kindness show many times over when he takes clients to their designated appointment and makes sure they feel comfortable and are well cared for.
Being an active member of RSVP, he has not limited himself to just transportation. Paul has assisted in other areas, such as grilling hotdogs for the senior picnic, and assisting seniors and children who need personal products from the local "diaper bank". Another effort Paul is involved with is collecting, washing, and distributing stuffed animals to needy children and to senior citizens. Paul also continues to be an active member of the Shriner's Club.
For his Senior Corps volunteer service to the Senior Services Associates, Inc, Paul was presented with the Governor's Volunteer Service Award on April 6, 2011.