The following are recepients of the 2015
Governor's Volunteer Service Awards.
Southern Illinois Award Recipients
Dominic Goggin - Adult
Dominic is a native of Greenville and is a junior at Greenville College pursuing a degree in pre-med studies. He has recently obtained his license as an EMT and would like to begin working as an EMT but school comes first. Dominic has the distinction of serving as the youngest and the only male volunteer at Bond County Hospice and was recently named their Volunteer of the Year. He is also a winner of the “Point Of Light” award given daily to outstanding volunteers through a program set forth by former President George H W Bush. In addition to Dominic’s work with hospice, he also delivers Meals on Wheels weekly to 12 senior citizens, aids two adults in the “Reading Link” adult literacy program, and cares for dogs in need of adoption at the Bond County Humane Society.
Maria Madrid – AmeriCorps Member
Maria is currently serving her second term of service with the Illinois Public Health Association AmeriCorps program at the Wayne County Health Department in Fairfield, Illinois. Maria is a an alumnus from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, receiving her bachelor’s degree with high honors in Interdisciplinary Health with a focus on health diversity and a Chemistry minor. She was recently accepted to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and will begin her studies this fall. Maria hopes to utilize and integrate public health initiatives at the individual level to help eliminate health disparities in the United States and to serve at the international level via Doctors Without Borders.
The Mt. Vernon Outland Airport – Business
Airport Manager Chris Collins and his dedicated group of volunteers had the unique opportunity to support the C-130 Military Transport planes which have stopped at the airport periodically over the past couple of years. The transports stop by to refuel as well as pick up and drop off soldiers. Due to the higher than normal security during these stops the Airport’s volunteers help with covering every entrance and exit. Additionally the volunteers help park the plane, walk the soldiers to the plane, provide a hot box lunch and provide a friendly presence. Also the volunteers and the Airport Board have developed a Hall of Honor and Military Museum honoring over 500 regional veterans with a plaque which lines the hallway of the airport terminal. It is a great honor for the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport to house such an important piece of our history. The Mt. Vernon Outland Airport will continue to recognize the area veterans this fall during a large Veterans Reunion in conjunction with the Balloons Over Mt. Vernon and Fly-in. This event along with several others enhances the airports operations of being the perfect mix of service, location, safety, and fun! None of this could be done without a very dedicated group of volunteers.
Bev Virobik - Senior
Bev is a very active member of her community. If there is a club, organization or event in her community of Centralia she has probably been involved in it in some way. She has served in many capacities of the Business & Professional Women organization since 1986 in their Local, District, Regional and State levels including BPW Woman of the Year in 1987. She has over 20 years volunteering with the Heart Association. She has held every office in the Jr Women’s Club. She also has held nearly every office and served on countless committees for the Centralia Schools PTA. She chaired and has been very active in the annual local Halloween Parade. But her community involvement doesn’t stop there she is involved in recycling as a Board Member with Centralia Clean and Green. Additionally she is involved with the local Salvation Army, the Centralia Library, Downtown Merchant’s Association and Daughters of the American Revolution. She has also assisted many health organizations such as Relay for Life, American Lung Association, co-chaired the local Jerry Lewis Telethon and worked with Centralia Jaycees on Call Santa Program. And if that is not enough she has also served as a Boy Scouts Den Leader and a Brownie Scout Leader.
Judie Louden – Senior Corps Member
A native of Belleville, Illinois, Judie has been married to her husband Wayne for 52 years. She is the proud mother of two sons and has been blessed with 6 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. In her former life before RSVP Judie was a licensed Cosmetologist, she worked for H& R Block for 21 years and then at J.C. Penney’s for 22 years. She has traveled to 24 countries and most of these 50 United States. As an RSVP Volunteer, Judie enjoys serving the mature adult and most senior population of the community. She is loving known as a “Grandma’s” girl because of her commitment to those she serves. Some of her volunteer assignments include activities and Meal programs for Older Adults, Linus Blankets Transportation, American Red Cross Blood Drives, Senior Transportation aide and Belleville School Dist. 118 Mentor.
Savannah Jade Beck - Youth
Savannah is the daughter of Ed and Dana Beck and is a 17 year old junior attending Mt. Vernon Township High School in Mt. Vernon. She has two older brothers. Since she was 12 she has been helping others by volunteering at Cove Connection where she cared for children while their parents were taught important life skills. Her plan is to attend Southern Illinois University to become an ultrasound technician.
East Central Illinois Award Recipients
Ed Maubach - Adult
Ed was born in San Clemente, California and moved to Peoria at age 6. He attended local schools and was a paper carrier. While a high school student at Central High School he was a manager at Hardees opening the store before classes. In 1993 he started his career repairing wheelchairs and in 2003 he began working at National Seating & Mobility designing wheelchairs to fit children with disabilities. Working with insurance companies, he pursues the funding to make the mobility a reality. Ed is married to Melissa & they have 3 children that attend Holy Family School in Peoria where Ed is a Eucharistic Minister, Men’s Club member, Heritage Days chair, basketball coach, & fundraiser for the past 9 years. He also mentors Limestone High School ROTC & Elite youth.
Cecilia Montesdeoca – AmeriCorps Member
Cecilia's first extensive field service experience was in Pisco, Peru in 2010 where she spent 8 months as a project manager for a disaster recovery non-profit. She returned to the US in 2011 and completed her undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Community Health Education at Illinois State University. After graduating Cecilia completed a term of service with the Illinois Public Health Association AmeriCorps Program working in Public Health Emergency Preparedness at the McLean County Health Department. Cecilia is currently serving another term with AmeriCorps, this time with the National Civilian Community Corps Southwest Region in Denver. Since the start of her term with NCCC, Cecilia has led a team of 10 young adults on service projects in Houston, Little Rock, and St. Louis. Upon completing her second term with NCCC, Cecilia plans on attending graduate school at Illinois State University as a candidate for a Masters of Anthropology. In the future Cecilia hopes to pursue a career in service work and program management.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage - Business
Wells Fargo is creates a culture of employee volunteerism by providing resources, programs, and recognition that empower team members to support the causes they care about. Last year alone, Wells Fargo Springfield team members volunteered a total of 3,694.5 hours in the community. The Springfield office of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has a strong relationship with United Way of Central Illinois, where many team members participate in Days of Action. For the local 2014 United Way Days of Action events, Wells Fargo came in with a total of 528 hours in two days. Local team members donate almost 700 hours each year to Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County. Wells Fargo team members in Illinois contributed more than 30,000 volunteer hours to community development, education, human services, and many other civic and cultural organizations across the state. Nationally, United Way recognized Wells Fargo for leading the largest workplace giving campaign in the U.S. for the sixth consecutive year.
Trisha Horner - Senior
Trisha grew up in Northern Minnesota. She attended design school, tailoring school, and then tech school for biomedical engineering. After graduating, she designed lingerie in New York for five years. She then worked in a hospital for biomedical engineering for 15 years. After having two children, Horner decided fibers were her passion. That’s when she started the non-profit organization, Fibers of Love, which seeks to sew for the community, county, country, and the world. Fibers of Love located in Bloomington has grown from its 8 original volunteers to 48. They meet every Monday throughout the year (with the exception of January and February) from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. to work on different sewing projects. The group has created various items from grocery bags for local Home Sweet Home Ministries, to quilts for infants across the border, to backpacks for a boy’s orphanage in Montana. Fibers of Love works with YWCA McLean County’s RSVP program to recruit retired individuals, both those who have a passion for sewing, and those who don’t, as Horner finds a use for all the individuals that would like to pitch in.
Vera Bright – Senior Corps Member
Vera has volunteered for as long as she can remember. Vera is a people person and enjoys meeting new people and getting to know them better. When her husband passed away, she was very grateful that she had her volunteering to help her get out of the house and not just sit around and stare at four walls. Vera volunteers at her church, the local nursing home, at different food distribution areas and is a current member of the RSVP Advisory Council for DeWitt County. One of her favorite volunteer jobs is at the DeWitt County Museum during the Apple and Pork Festival. A few days before the festival, Vera spends a morning with a group of “Pickle Packers” who pack hundreds and hundreds of dill pickle spears into bags for one of the food booths. During the festival, she will work that same booth. Vera’s true passion is helping others when they can no longer do things for themselves. Vera has four days a month she calls her own. The rest of the month, you will find her cooking, cleaning, visiting or baking for others. She loves to bake cookies, cakes, pies and make candy, all to give to others. Her made from scratch apple cake is a favorite of many. Although Vera is quiet, her devotion to others speaks volumes.
Allison Schmidt - Youth
Allison Schmidt is 16 years old and attends Altamont High School. She lives in Altamont, which is in Effingham County. She is the daughter of David and Lana Schmidt, and has a brother, Grant, age 14. Besides volunteering, Allison is very active in 4H, and has won numerous honors and distinctions. Outside of 4H, she is involved in band, cheerleading, pottery classes, FFA (Future Farmers of America), FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), and was recently inducted into National Honor Society.
West Central Illinois Award Recipients
Nick Swope - AmeriCorps
Nick is a Peace Corps Fellow and full-time AmeriCorps Member through the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, at Western Illinois University. Since September 2014, Nick has been leading McDonough County’s Project for the Local Assessment of Needs through the county’s public health department. From 2011 to 2013, he served with the United States Peace Corps in Mongolia implementing community development and public health projects. Mr. Swope received his B.S. in Economics from the University of Oregon and is completing his M.S. in Health Sciences, with an emphasis on Public Health, at WIU.
Keller Williams Premier Realty - Business
Keller Williams is a training and consulting company that provides support products and services for Realtors. But their primary mission is for their family of agents to have lives worth living, businesses worth owning and careers worth having and their priorities are God, Family and then Business. One of Keller Williams ways of giving comes is RED Day. Introduced in 2009, RED day stands for RENEW, ENERGIZE, and DONATE and has been designated as Keller Williams annual day of service. Each year on the second Thursday of May associates spend the day away from their businesses to serve worthy organizations and causes in their communities. Also Keller Williams Premier Realty has provided a day of service to Peoria Area Retarded Citizens (PARC), School District 150, and most recently the South Side Mission Camp Kearney. The local family of Keller Williams Premier in Peoria has supported these service efforts with nearly 100% participation with the mission “to give where we live”.
Cindy Shuford - Senior
Cindy is the president and co-founder along with her daughter, Bethany of Threads, Hope & Love NFP in Washington, IL. After college, she worked at several jobs but never found her passion until she became a youth director for a local church. The Youth Director position really opened up her heart and prepared her for what was to be her future with Threads, Hope & Love. As a member of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Washington, she was moved to action by an article in the Church newsletter about organizing a clothing giveaway. Starting small, the group of 4 women and the pastor held two giveaways in 2009. Realizing the need was greater, in 2010 they reached out to all the churches in the community to pool resources to hold bigger and more events. Over the next two years they saw tremendous growth and with the help of SCORE in Peoria and a local banker they were able to purchase and rehab their own building. Today Threads, Hope and Love serves over 100 families each month.
Alan Kulczewski – Senior Corps Member
Alan was born in Chicago, raised in the south suburbs and went off to obtain his Bachelor and Master degrees at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. It was in college where he met and married his wife Peggy and together they have three children and five grandchildren. Alan’s early career was in Dayton, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania working in parks and recreation. He and his wife then returned to Illinois in 1981 where Alan served 13 years as Executive Director of Jamieson Community Center in Monmouth and 17 years as County Extension Director for Henderson, Mercer and Warren Counties. After retiring in 2011 he continues to serve as an active volunteer with the Bi-County Youth Coalition, West Central Leadership and the Buchanan Community Chorus as well as serving on other boards and as a volunteer to groups and organizations.
Alexis Lawson - Youth
Alexis Lawson is a freshman at West Prairie High School in Sciota. She has volunteered for two years at McDonough District Hospital as a Volunteer and has amassed over 400 volunteer hours. Alexis has both a passion for helping others and very positive work ethic. She was always willing to help wherever she was needed, even having departments request her to be assigned in their areas. In addition to volunteering, Alexis is involved in basketball and her church youth group. She enjoys reading, roller skating, Disney movies, and spending time with her family and friends.
Northeast Illinois Award Recipients
Kenneth Jennings - Adult
Coach Kenneth Jennings has not let being injured and paralyzed playing high school football crimp his lifestyle of being a 24 hour-a-day volunteer. Coach Ken still loves sports and is a high school coach as well as a peer coach assisting recovering injured athletes and others at the Life Center of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Ken is co-founder of the Gridiron Alliance, a non-profit foundation supporting The Community Alliance for Sport Safety. In 2013, Mr. Jennings was instrumental in helping pass Illinois Law-- Senate Bill 2178, known as, "Rocky's (Clark's) Law. This legislation requires all school to provide basic catastrophic injury insurance for participating student athletes. Ken continues to work all across the nation to help insure that student athletes are covered by adequate injury insurance. Ken is a tireless leader and sports advocate in Illinois and everywhere. Ken has fought a courageous battle since 1988 to resist the temptation to give in to his paralysis and has fought hard to increase awareness to the realities of sports related catastrophic injury and paralysis. Ken is an inspiring public speaker and especially seeks ways to reach out to youth. Coach Ken has helped organize a new sport safety educational outreach initiative which offers free or low cost Internet-based "webinars" that deal with teaching and learning about tough topics like concussion and other brain injuries related to participation in sports.
Dylan Mooney – AmeiCorps Member
Dylan started in community service at an early age and participated in scouting for 12 years eventually became an Eagle Scout. He attended high school at Wheaton Academy where he concentrated his efforts on personal achievement and was active in National Honor Society, Scholastic Bowl, and club sports and had a 3.5 GPA. While attending Wheaton College community service became a lifestyle choice for Dylan as he co-founded and led a student club called the Urban Studies Club and was a member of many other service clubs. He was also able to serve the student body as a member of the Orientation Committee through which he led an initiative titled “Community Service Day” in which all 800+ incoming students participated in multiple service activities including: planting community gardens, after-school tutoring programs, painting a church, assisting the elderly, and environmental clean-up projects. In July 2014 Dylan joined Northern Illinois Food Bank as an AmeriCorps VISTA for a one year term. He is grateful for the opportunity to put his passion for service and skills into practice through engaging the community in hunger relief awareness and volunteering. Dylan attributes his success to God’s never ending grace, his family, friends, AmeriCorps VISTA, and the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
Groupon - Business
Groupon is a global leader of local commerce and the place you start when you want to buy just about anything, anytime, anywhere. Groupon is redefining how traditional small businesses attract, retain and interact with customers by providing merchants with a suite of products and services, including customizable deal campaigns, credit card payment processing capabilities, and point-of-sale solutions that help businesses grow and operate more effectively. Groupon's Employee Volunteering Program is less than three years old, but has already created immeasurable impact for our customers, merchants, employees and communities.
Dan Kenney - Senior
Dan received his B.S. in Education from Northern Illinois University in 1977, and is a published writer and poet. He spent nineteen years as educator for the DeKalb County School District, retiring in May of 2013. Dan is and advocate for the disadvantaged, serving as President of the Board of Directors for Hope Haven a homeless shelter in DeKalb, and Treasurer of the Sondra King Memorial Crop Walk to end hunger. Dan’s true passion is to ensure food security to the nearly 20,000 DeKalb County residents who struggle with hunger. Over the past three years Dan has spent countless hours as the founder, director and chief volunteer for DeKalb County Community Gardens. This not-for- profit organization produced 40,000 pounds of fresh produce over the past three years that was distributed to community organizations, businesses, municipalities, schools and churches. Enlisting the help of 300 volunteers and 70 community partners; the program has grown from several school based sites to over 40 locations throughout the county. Dan’s newest initiatives include the development of a vocational farm as well as exploring the possibility for the creation of a Food Hub bringing farmers, markets and employment opportunities to DeKalb County. Dan has spoken widely on the issue of poverty, food security and community development and is a 2014 appointee to the Illinois Local Foods, Farms, and Jobs Council.
Rita Murphy – Senior Corps Member
Rita is 86 years old and from Yorkville. She volunteers year round to better her community. She has been a dedicated volunteer through RSVP of Kendall County for several years, and is an advocate for seniors and senior interests in the community. Rita serves on the Kendall County Senior Services Advisory Council, giving input into services and programs provided for local seniors. She also serves on the Kendall County TRIAD board, an organization which consists of local police, senior organizations and senior citizens working together to help keep seniors safe in their own homes. Rita is always enthusiastic in every thing she does, from welcoming others to participate in programs at our senior center to attending city council meetings. She meets regularly with the mayor and other city officials to share her opinion on senior concerns. She is also dedicated to fundraising for senior programs. Whether it’s local law enforcement concerns, health concerns, or a senior activity, Rita is there to promote awareness and to participate. She attends as many of RSVP activities, field trips, and programs as she can, and encourages others to join her in advocacy for senior concerns. She is also well-known through her parish where she is an active volunteer, and is a member of the Lady Knights at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Yorkville.
Nicole Harrington - Youth
Nicole is a sophomore at St Joseph Catholic Academy High School and is the founder of a bullying program called STAR (Stop, Think, And React). She understands first hand that bullying is a big problem in our society and at the young age of 11 she created STAR to help children know what to do if they witness a bullying situation. Nicole has presented talks to audiences of all ages promoting her STAR program and has partnered with Live Out Loud Charity for suicide prevention. Partnering with LOLC has provided more opportunity for Nicole to tell her story and promote STAR by speaking at fashion show fundraisers, schools, and to Girl Scout troops. When Nicole is not promoting her STAR program or completing her school studies you can find her volunteering her time at many different organizations. Within the last year Nicole has volunteered over 350 hours of her time at local community events, Relay for Life, Northern Illinois Food Bank, and American Heart Association events. A recent event that she organized was making blankets for the local cancer research hospital. She collected donations to raise money for fabric, organized a group to get together and make blankets, and delivered 11 blankets to the hospital to keep cancer patients warm while they are receiving treatment. Nicole recently competed in Pure American Pageant and won the title of National Young Miss. She plans to use her title to help promote her program STAR and provide more opportunity to connect with other volunteer organizations.
Northwest Illinois Award Recipients
Scott Brouette - Adult
Scott Brouette began working with young children in Illinois as a volunteer in 1986. His interest in young children led Mr. Brouette to earn a Bachelor degree in Psychology, Mass Communication and Early Childhood Education from Illinois State University. After that he later pursued and got a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Western Illinois University. Scott has always wanted to ensure that university students with children have the same opportunities as traditional students. Scott strived to create a safe, caring and educational environment for young children as a Lead Teacher at Illinois State University Child Care Center and Western Illinois University Infant and Preschool Center. Scott is currently the program director for the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities/WQPT AmeriCorps Early Childhood Literacy Project where AmeriCorps members under his supervision serve in early childhood classrooms expanding and improving literacy skills for children at risk for failure in the Quad Cities area.
Etta LaFlora – AmeriCorps Member
Etta is the executive director of the Sunshine Community Services Center, a nonprofit agency providing educational and empowerment support programs. The Center has administered several programs over the years, but the most successful has been the Step Ladder Tutoring Program, which uses a network of adult, peer, high school and college student volunteers to tutor middle school students at two public schools during the school year and at the public library during the summer. Knowing the link between crime and low literacy, Etta heard Literacy Volunteers of Illinois were looking for AmeriCorps members at IYC-Kewanee, she decided to apply. She suggested a partnership with LVI, Black Hawk College Community Education Center and Sunshine Community Services to share volunteers to improve literacy outcomes for students. Etta personally tutors students and helps to coordinate tutors in these programs. She says the rewards for her are seeing the smile on the student’s face when they are successful in places where they have not enjoyed success before. Etta says, “At IYC-Kewanee, we try to help students to believe in their ability and give them the courage to take a second chance where they have failed before.” She is involved in church activities, likes spending time with her two grandchildren, dog-Chico, working in the yard and painting if or when she gets the chance.
Sharon Kersten - Senior
Sharon started volunteering for the Red Cross in 1969 as a senior in high school. As she stated “My parents raised me that way”. She started with Blood Services and then moved on to Disaster Services. She has been involved in 24 national disaster operations since 1993 in eleven states (Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, Florida, and New York.) Sharon supervised case workers at 911 ground zero in New York for seven weeks, and advised George Bush, Sr. during Hurricane Frances in Florida. Most recently, she has been involved with six fires and two fatalities in Lee County, just since January. She has shared her disaster knowledge and training with Sauk Valley College AmeriCorps members for more than ten years. “Volunteering has to come from the heart” according to Sharon who has volunteered for the Red Cross for 46 years.
Barb Novak – Senior Corps member
For 26 years Barb taught regular K-12 students and pre K-12 special needs students as well as English Language learners in both Illinois and Arizona before retiring in 2006. She developed a strong commitment to helping others during her teaching career. That commitment carried over into her retirement when she soon began volunteering in a variety of ways. Her interests turned to the fields of health, event greeting and community improvement. With all her new interests she still remained busy helping others by serving as a friendly face in a local hospital and a nursing-home, and also by being a key organizer for the local Relay for Life. When she joined RSVP in 2009 she started out as a regular volunteer but added other activities including becoming an RSVP Community Ambassador. In that role she is a greeter for special events. She also is RSVP’s Liaison with the Quad City Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. Barb expanded her interests in public safety by joining the Medical Reserve Corps and RSVP’s Disaster Volunteer Registration team. Part of Barb’s passion for service comes from her love of a challenge and the pleasure she receives from accomplishing things. A good example of that is her most recent volunteer work of leading the spelling and trivia contests of the local Senior Olympics. Many volunteers serve through RSVP. But only a few such as Barb provide outstanding service both through and to RSVP.
Ashlee Werkheiser - Youth
Ashlee is a freshman at Wethersfield High School in Kewanee and has been a tutor for the Step-Ladder Tutoring Program at Wethersfield school and the summer program at the Kewanee Public Library. From the fall of 2012 to December of 2014, Ashlee volunteered 168 days and donated 210 hours of tutoring service, and still volunteers today. She is also involved in other community organizations and activities and has recognized for her accomplishments. One of these accomplishments is being an honor roll student at Wethersfield School. She is a published photographer and has had several pictures published in the Outdoor Illinois Magazine for the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources. She also participated in the Galva Arts Council's annual Photography Contest and placed every year she entered photos. She completed Program Aid training through the Girls Scouts and was an aid for summer camps and activities. She has also helped with many activities at Black Hawk College such as: Trick-or-Treat Trail, Phi Theta Kappa/Kewanee BPW's Beverage Stand during Hog Days, Illinois Beef Expo Livestock Judging Contest, and Black Hawk East Invitational Livestock Judging Contest. Ashlee hopes to continue her education and become an educator herself.