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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich Encourages Communities Across Illinois To Nominate Outstanding Volunteer Efforts for the 25th Annual Home Town Awards

CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today invited Illinois’ cities, towns and villages to proudly recognize the outstanding contributions of their communities by nominating their distinguished volunteer efforts and accomplishments for the 25th Annual Home Town Awards.  Each year, the Governor’s Home Town Awards recognizes Illinois’ hard working and dedicated volunteers who greatly improve the communities in which they live. 
 
“Everyday Illinois is honored and made better by the heroic accomplishments of its volunteers.  Through their unconditional giving of time, talent and resources, these volunteers improve the quality of life for Illinois’ citizens and communities.  Because these deeds too often go unrecognized, we are encouraging people throughout the state to take this opportunity to nominate the efforts of their friends, colleagues and neighbors for the 2006 Home Town Awards.  These awards not only recognize volunteer efforts, but also help encourage civic pride, boost local morale and help motivate continuing volunteer efforts that are vital to fostering strong and vibrant communities,” Gov. Blagojevich said.        
 
Administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Governor's Home Town Awards are presented in a number of categories based on community population.  Applications for awards may be submitted by a variety of community representatives, including local governments, schools, community organizations, chambers of commerce, community action agencies, area agencies on aging and local job training organizations. 
 
There are six project categories for which an application may be submitted, including Youth Involvement, Senior Citizen Involvement, Veteran Involvement, Parks and Recreation, Clean-Up/Beautification and General, which includes submissions that do not fit in the other specific categories.  Applications are reviewed by a team of volunteer judges, who conduct site visits to finalist communities before deciding on winners. 
 
Judges will select one project from each population category to compete for the coveted Governor’s Cup, a traveling silver trophy that signifies the project deemed most representative of Illinois’ spirit for volunteerism.  Past Governor’s Cup recipients have ranged from a summer camp for mentally and physically challenged adults and young people in Adams County to an Emergency Services and Disaster Program in Country Club Hills.   
 
“Communities are made stronger and more vibrant by the exceptional leadership of Illinois’ volunteers,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin.  “Through their tireless efforts and commitment to their communities, our volunteers are helping to attract investment, create jobs and support growth and innovation.  Gov. Blagojevich and I strongly encourage our citizens to take this time and help us recognize these truly remarkable efforts by submitting nominations for this year’s Home Town Awards.”  
 
The deadline to apply for the 2006 Governor’s Home Town Awards is June 16, 2006.  For more information, or to receive an application guidebook, contact Lou Ann Williams at DCEO at 217/558-2838 (TDD: 800/785-6055) or email lwilliams@ildceo.net.


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