Governor Announces Home Town Awards Winners; Praises Illinois Volunteers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2001
SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today congratulated winners of the 20th annual Governor's Home Town Awards and praised their commitment to bettering their communities through volunteerism.
"Every day, Illinois volunteers make a difference in the lives of their neighbors," Governor Ryan said. "From building playgrounds and tutoring young people, to helping senior citizens and beautifying public places, volunteers quietly get the job done."
"Twenty years ago, the Governor's Home Town Awards program was established to acknowledge the outstanding work of our state's volunteers. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate this year's winners for their unselfish dedication to making Illinois a better place to live, work and do business."
The Governor's Home Town Awards program is administered by the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).
"Although volunteers generally do their work without any expectation of rewards, their contributions are valuable and deserve recognition," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough. "These awards are a way for us to recognize the contributions volunteers make toward improving the quality of life in their communities, thereby helping ensure that Illinois home towns continue to attract new families and businesses."
Awards are presented in eight categories based on community population. Eligible projects involve general efforts to improve a community service or facility, achievements for or by youths, achievements by or on behalf of senior citizens, and efforts to encourage economic development.
Winning communities receive a road sign and plaque noting their achievements. One community also is selected from all first place winners to receive the Governor's Cup -- a traveling silver trophy awarded to the community deemed most representative of the spirit of volunteerism in Illinois. The 2001 Governor's Cup winner is Effingham County, in recognition of efforts to establish and operate the Ballard Nature Center.
The Ballard Nature Center was established on a 210-acre site near Altamont donated by Ernie Ballard. The center includes trails and wetlands, as well as a visitors center, completed in July 2000, that was built with funds raised by a volunteer board of directors and numerous organizations that donated money and equipment. The building was landscaped with the help of 4-H members, local garden club members, and other volunteers who also organized a banquet to raise funds for development of a children's activity area. The Ballard Nature Center is fast becoming a favorite destination for field trips teaching young people about the environment.
Winners of the Governor's Home Town Awards are chosen by volunteer judges who themselves worked on projects that previously won Home Town Awards. The judges review and rank applications, then visit the finalist communities before choosing the winners and making the Governor's Cup selection. Projects are judged based on local need, volunteer participation, project continuity and results.
This year, 124 projects submitted applications. Awards were presented to projects representing 52 cities, towns and villages, eight counties and five townships. A list of the 2001 winners is attached.
2001 GOVERNOR'S HOME TOWN AWARDS WINNERS
CATEGORY I (Population 0 - 3,000)
First Place - Milledgeville - Fire Station Addition - Volunteers raised funds and helped build an addition to the fire station that will accommodate four trucks.
Second Place - Hutsonville - Community Center Building - More than 43 organizations and businesses united to raise funds and build a community center.
Third Place - Goreville - Village Park Improvements - Volunteers helped build a batting cage and concession stand, and assisted with maintenance at the village park.
First Place - Bradford - Youth Center - Among their activities, young people from the Youth Center volunteered at a homeless shelter and placed flags in town on holidays.
Second Place - Deer Creek - Pancake & Sausage Supper - The 49th annual Pancake & Sausage Supper, staged by volunteers, raises funds for Dee-Mack Middle School.
Third Place - Towanda - Boy Scout Pancake & Sausage Supper - Scouts raise funds by volunteering at the Pancake & Sausage Supper, which served 1,300 diners in 2000.
CATEGORY II (Population 3,001 to 6,000)
First Place (tie) - Round Lake Park - Mano a Mano Family Resource Center - With volunteer help, a storefront became a center offering services for the Latino community.
First Place (tie) - Georgetown - Sponsor a Flag - Volunteers raised funds and gave of their time and talents to build Patriot Park, a flag monument, and buy flags for display.
Second Place - Spring Grove - Elementary School Food Drive - Fifth-graders at Spring Grove Elementary collected nearly 2,000 food items during a five-day food drive.
First Place (tie) - Yorkville - Skate Park - Acting on a survey of their fellow youths, students helped solicit contributions of land, materials and labor to build a Skate Park.
First Place (tie) - Manhattan - Youth Athletic Association - Youth Athletic Association volunteers managed Irish Fest, raising $38,000 for recreational services and causes.
Second Place - Savanna - Chestnut Park School Playground - Volunteers raised funds and helped build a community playground, providing a safe place where kids can play.
SENIOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT
First Place - Willow Springs - CCC Garden - Senior citizens helped raise funds for a statue and worked to construct a garden honoring the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Second Place - Long Grove - Ice Cream Social - Volunteers organized an ice cream social and concert during the Heritage Festival to honor citizens age 80 and above.
Third Place - Pembroke Township - Intergenerational Program/Oral History - Seniors reminisced and youths transcribed their stories to compile a historical storybook.
First Place - Fulton - Dutch Windmill - Volunteers helped raise funds to build an authentic Dutch Windmill, and continue to serve as hosts at this community landmark.
Second Place - Pana - Community Council for the Arts - Run by volunteers, the Council sponsors visual and performing arts in Pana, including wall murals that attract tourists.
Third Place - Mt. Zion - Our Town - A committee of volunteer leaders developed a plan to beautify the community and prevent problems associated with uncontrolled growth.
CATEGORY III (Population 6,001 to 15,000)
First Place - Island Lake - Big Island Restoration - Volunteers spearheaded efforts to beautify Big Island with planters and turn it into an impressive, unique park.
Second Place - Forest Park - Neighborhood Watch - With more than 200 members, Neighborhood Watch patrols neighborhoods and assists with crowd control.
Third Place - New Lenox - Schmuhl School Project - Volunteers raised funds to move a historic school building and undertake renovations to convert it into a museum.
First Place - Orland Hills - Police Cadets - Police Cadets build trust between youths and police by promoting community policing and encouraging youths to help others.
First Place - Hickory Hills - Jubilee Quilt - Volunteers designed and sewed a quilt to commemorate the community's Jubilee. It is now on display at the community center.
Second Place - Bartonville - Senior Watch/Safety of Seniors Program - Volunteer seniors organize an annual program to educate seniors on safety and security issues.
First Place - Forest Park - Madison Street Construction Task Force/Design Committee - Forest Park has revitalized its business district with renovations guided by volunteers.
Second Place - Richton Park - A volunteer committee helped restore a donated former neighborhood pool, thereby creating a community pool accessible to all residents.
Third Place - Clarendon Hills - Economic Development Committee - Volunteer committee members planned a summer concert series to bring people back downtown.
CATEGORY IV (Population 15,001 to 23,000)
First Place - Union County - Shawnee Crisis Pregnancy Center - Using a grant and contributed supplies, volunteers built and staff a satellite office serving Union County.
Second Place (tie) - Lake Zurich - Haunted House - Volunteers annually stage a Halloween Haunted House to raise funds for recreational programming in Lake Zurich.
Second Place (tie) - Fairview Heights - Illinois Center for Autism - Volunteers removed worn playground equipment and installed new equipment at the Center's playground.
First Place - Ottawa - Youth Advisory Committee - The Committee gives youths a voice in planning positive programs, policies and activities for youths in the Ottawa area.
Second Place - Lincoln - Plant-a-Tree - School children, local businesses and organizations united to landscape a parking lot and plant trees at the local fairgrounds.
Third Place - Jacksonville - Fine Arts Camp - Volunteers helped plan and stage a week-long Arts Camp, giving youths a chance to celebrate music, theater and art.
SENIOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT
First Place - Palos Hills - Senior Pen Pals - Seniors exchange letters with sixth-graders from Conrady Jr. High School, creating friendships and improving kids' writing skills.
Second Place - Sterling - Moose Mingle - Moose members and Women of the Moose, with help from businesses, underwrite monthly dances for local middle school students.
First Place - Godfrey - Great Godfrey Maze - Volunteers helped solicit contributions and supervise this seven-acre corn maze which became a popular tourist destination.
Second Place - Ottawa - United Way Labor of Love - This annual one-day blitz organizes volunteers to rehabilitate homes of low-income, senior or disabled citizens.
CATEGORY V (Population 23,001 to 33,000)
First Place and Governor's Cup - Effingham County - Ballard Nature Center - Volunteers helped raise funds to build a visitors center and children's activity area.
Second Place - Freeport - Friends Forever - Volunteers provided labor, materials and money to renovate an auction house into a state-of-the-art shelter for homeless pets.
Third Place - Ela Township - Ela Festival of the Arts - Volunteers organized the Ela Festival of the Arts fostering cooperation between communities to promote the arts.
First Place - Westmont - Operation Prom Night - Volunteers stage a mock fatal accident to expose teens to the horror caused by drinking and driving.
Second Place - Mundelein - Youth Committee Project - More than 500 volunteers are involved in the committee, encouraging healthy interaction between youths and adults.
Third Place - Glendale Heights - Safety Town - Built by volunteers, Safety Town educates children about safety and gives them a chance to put their lessons to work.
SENIOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT
First Place - Mundelein - A-MAY-Zing Mundelein - In 2000, more than 450 volunteers participated in this annual day of caring, helping clean up the Diamond Lake area.
First Place - Westmont - Taste of Westmont - Planned and managed by volunteers, Taste of Westmont was a three-day downtown event that attracted more than 25,000.
Second Place - St. Charles - Focus on St. Charles - More than 80 focus groups with approximately 500 people participating give St. Charles citizens a voice in government.
Third Place - Belvidere/Boone County - Economic Development Alliance - Volunteers work with the Alliance to implement a strategic action plan for growth and development.
CATEGORY VI (Population 33,001 to 59,000)
First Place (tie) - Elk Grove Village - Community Spirit Award Committee - Committee volunteers recognize citizens' deeds of compassion and commitment to family values.
First Place (tie) - Park Ridge - Brickton Art Center - Volunteers serve as directors of this center, which offers art instruction to all ages and provides exhibit space to artists.
Second Place - Alton - American Legion World Series - Volunteers helped coordinate behind-the-scenes assistance provided during the American Legion World Series.
First Place - Berwyn - Emergency Snow Assistance for Seniors - Youths from the Berwyn Police Explorer Post assist senior citizens during snow emergencies.
Second Place - Alton - Little Theater Ice Wolf Play - Volunteers worked to stage a play for middle school students, helping sow the seeds for a lifetime of loving the theater.
Third Place - Quincy - Indian Hills Mini Fair - The annual Mini Fair gives public housing residents without transportation a chance to participate in a community celebration.
SENIOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT
First Place - Moline - Moline Activity Center - Volunteers were instrumental in starting computer instruction classes that allow seniors to learn and use computer skills.
Second Place - Wayne Township - Intergenerational Literacy Program - Seniors and Hispanic children exchange letters, helping the children improve their English skills.
First Place - Crystal Lake - Downtown Revitalization - Historic Downtown Crystal Lake volunteers provide guidance on streetscaping and bringing events to the downtown.
Second Place - Elk Grove Village - Industrial/Commercial Revitalization Commission - Commission volunteers help with efforts to revitalize the village's business park.
CATEGORY VII (Population 59,001 to 100,000)
First Place - Joliet - Taylor Pirc Video Camera Project - After a child died in a collision involving an impaired driver, volunteers raised funds to buy video cameras for police.
Second Place (tie) - Kankakee County - Community Alliance - Community Alliance volunteers raised funds to buy automatic external heart defibrillators for public areas.
Second Place (tie) - Schaumburg - WINGS Schaumburg House - Volunteers helped build a home to provide long-term housing/counseling to homeless women and kids.
First Place (tie) - Cicero - Kidsnews - Kidsnews, produced and distributed by volunteers, provides local youths with information about fun, wholesome area activities.
First Place (tie) - Cicero - Youth Commission - The Youth Commission asks volunteers to help organize programs that involve more than 30,000 Cicero residents annually.
Second Place - Cicero - Safety Town - Volunteers secured donations and helped develop Safety Town, where kids study to earn their safety certification.
SENIOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT
First Place - Adams County - Great Rivers Arts and Games Competition - Volunteers helped stage this competition which provides seniors a way to participate in fun games.
First Place - Palatine - WINGS Resale Shop - Volunteers helped create a resale shop and continue to help operate the shop, raising funds to help homeless women and kids.
CATEGORY VIII (Population over 100,000)
First Place - Schaumburg Township - Building Township Pride - Volunteers organized activities to celebrate the township's Sesquicentennial, bringing people together.
Second Place - Aurora - Waubonsee Community College Adult Literacy Project - More than 300 volunteers helped 902 people learn reading skills in 2000.
Third Place - Maine Township - Holiday Party - Volunteers help stage the annual Holiday Party, providing a brighter holiday to needy children and their families.
First Place - Schaumburg Township - Girl Scout Blue Bow Rally - Girls from Scout Service Unit #660 organized the rally to raise awareness and fight child abuse.
Second Place - Kane County - CASA Kane County - CASA volunteers serve as court-appointed guardians to protect the rights of abused and neglected children.
Third Place - Springfield - Gardens of Hope - Youths fight crime by cleaning up neglected lots, then planting gardens, donating their harvest to local food pantries.
SENIOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT
First Place - Champaign County - Reassurance Callers of Family Service TeleCare - Volunteers call seniors to reassure them that someone checks on them regularly.
Second Place - Peoria County - Operation Senior Security - Nearly 200 volunteers help educate seniors how to avoid scams and also help investigate reports of exploitation.