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June 23, 1999


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today congratulated winners of the 18th annual Governor's Home Town Awards for their many volunteer efforts to improve the quality of life throughout Illinois.

The year's top award, the 1999 Governor's Cup, went to Whiteside County for the Agape Center, which provides free health services to those without insurance coverage and working families that are underinsured. The Governor's Cup is a traveling silver trophy that is awarded each year to the community whose project is determined to be the most representative of the spirit of volunteerism in Illinois.

"The giving spirit of these volunteers is an inspiration to all Illinoisans," Ryan said. "In dozens of cities across our state, we are seeing Illinois become a better place to live, work, and raise a family because of their efforts. My congratulations and thanks to the citizens of Whiteside County and all of the award winners who contribute every day to helping our communities and our citizens overcome the problems they may face."

Lt. Governor Corinne Wood, who presented this year's awards, commended the participants for making a difference. "We commend you for giving of yourselves to make a difference in your home town. As a result, you've made you're communities better places to live," Wood said.

The Governor's Home Town Awards competition is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).

"These awards are an opportunity to recognize the value of volunteerism throughout Illinois," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough. "We are honoring a wide range of volunteer efforts, including general community service, economic development, achievement for or by youths and achievement for or by senior citizens."

Volunteer judges evaluate the applications and choose the winners. The process includes visits to the communities selected as finalists.

First place winners receive a commemorative plaque and road sign proclaiming the community's selection as a winner in the competition. Second place and third place winners receive plaques noting their achievements.

Whiteside County was chosen for the Governor's Cup because of efforts to provide free health services to the uninsured, underinsured working families and the medically underserved through the Agape Care Center, housed in the Rock River Christian Center. The church donates space, utilities and security, and its secretary provides clerical support.

Local medical practitioners volunteer their services, and all equipment was donated by CGH Medical Center in Sterling, which also donates X-Ray and lab services. Medical supply companies have donated prescription samples and supplies, a local plumber donated and installed sinks, and the local Welfare Council group sponsored promotional efforts. Local organizations also helped raise funds for the center. The clinic served 540 people in 1998.

A list of the 1999 winners is attached.



CATEGORY I (population up to 1,800)

1st Place-Saunemin -- Saunemin solved the space needs problems of village and township governments and local civic organizations by organizing the community behind construction of a new Community Building.

2nd Place -Roseville -- Volunteers from the local Chamber of Commerce, schools, churches, senior citizens, businesses and the local Garden Club all helped raise funds and plan a Sesquicentennial Celebration.

3rd Place-German Valley -- Fourteen months of volunteer preparations were rewarded last July when visitors from throughout Illinois and 21 other states, as well as Germany and Singapore, attended the German Valley Sesquicentennial Celebration.

1st Place-Hennepin -- A volunteer committee spearheaded by business and community leaders developed plans to provide low-cost housing for seniors.

2nd Place -Coffeen -- Volunteers formed the Golden Circle Nutrition Program--providing daily nutritious, hot meals to approximately 16 shut-ins throughout the community.

1st Place-Steward -- When state inspectors found numerous life safety issues at the 70-year old elementary school building, volunteers helped pass a referendum and do the work to make a new addition a reality.

CATEGORY II (population 1,801 to 6,000)

1st Place-Erie -- Groups helped renovate a local cemetery and replace trees after a devastating wind storm tore through the area, renewing interest in local history and village government.

2nd Place -Oglesby -- More than $100,000 was raised to help build a new library, replacing the old facility which was not accessible to those with disabilities and had insufficient space to accommodate computers and patrons.

3rd Place-Newton -- Local citizens felt the community needed to brighten the Christmas season, and formed a committee to plan four weekends of activities, including a Toys for Tots and food basket program.

1st Place-Dwight -- A survey of area teens showed they wanted a place to play basketball. Led by Dwight High School sophomore Andrew Cronin, volunteers donated more than 560 hours and local organizations gave in excess of $5,000 in money, materials and effort to make new basketball courts a reality.

2nd Place -Bethany -- With the help of Boy Scout Troop #29, volunteers developed the Marrowbone Park Nature Walk, which offers a scenic, tree-shaded walking area with a bench and parking area.

1st Place-Marshall -- Burnsides Guild members volunteer at a local nursing home, visiting residents, distributing mail, helping with church services, conducting Bingo games, sending holiday cards and gifts and helping to tend a flower garden for residents to enjoy.

2nd Place -Oglesby -- Thanks to the efforts of more than 200 volunteers, Oglesby now has a monument honoring the 161 local veterans of the Korean War. The volunteers are now at work to erect a monument to veterans of the Vietnam War.

3rd Place-Marshall -- Students, ranging from pre-schoolers to high school seniors, have gained new friends and insight by participating in the Burnsides Nursing Home Intergenerational Project. Students regularly visit residents and residents share their experiences with a younger generation.

CATEGORY III (population 6,001 to 12,000)

1st Place-Schuyler County -- Through the efforts of volunteers, more than $175,000 and 10,000 hours were donated toward a new all-weather track built adjacent to the high school. Efforts continue to add lights and bleachers.

2nd Place -Spring Valley -- More than 200 volunteers form the nucleus of Project Success. This organization of schools, social service agencies, governments, churches and non-profit groups plans and takes action to improve the quality of life for area residents.

3rd Place-Campton Township -- Volunteers contributed their skills, money and goods to preserve and renovate the Campton Town Hall for organizational and governmental meetings. The historic building is now used daily for Township business.

1st Place-Staunton -- Students and the community worked together to develop a Home Town Web Page. Today, Staunton has a great new marketing tool and new respect has developed between students and adults.

1st Place-Vandalia -- Partners in Reading pairs committed adult volunteers with elementary school students for a weekly noontime reading period. The program has grown to now include more than 100 volunteers.

2nd Place -Wood River -- The Wood River Heritage Council renovated a local building into a museum, and has met the challenge of attracting volunteersto staff the museum and keep records and exhibits up to date.

1st Place-Morris -- Home for the Holidays is a two-day community event on Thanksgiving weekend designed to keep residents in Morris for holiday shopping and activities. Included are a house walk, Festival of Trees, quilt show, parade and bake sale.

2nd Place -Fairfield -- The Fairfield Memorial Hospital Association led a $1 million fundraising drive to purchase machinery, equipment and furnishings for the newly renovated facility. Thanks to tremendous support from the community, the $1 million goal was met in only two months.

CATEGORY IV (population 12,001 to 18,000)

1st Place-Effingham -- FISH Human Services is an interfaith organization whose volunteers deliver meals on wheels, operate a Christmas store to help needy families, and provide transportation, emergency, counseling and transient services. Through donations and volunteer efforts, a new 4,8000 square-foot service center was dedicated last July.

2nd Place -Streator -- Community-minded volunteers formed the "Light Up Streator" committee, recruiting more than 200 people to raise funds, plan events, hang lights and refurbish and recycle worn holiday displays. Efforts culminated in a day of holiday-related events climaxed by switching on ights throughout downtown and the city park.

(Tie for 1st Place)
1st Place-Lockport -- "Lockport First" pairs Lockport teens in need of a summer job with seniors and other own-income citizens who need assistance in maintaining their homes and properties. Participating student workers brightened 10 homes and two churches, and learned the importance of helping the less fortunate.

1st place-West Chicago -- The Open Gym program provides a safe place where fourth- through eighth-graders can play ball, talk and learn to get along. The program depends on volunteers to work with the youths and solicit donations to buy equipment for the program.

1st Place-Rantoul -- Foster grandparents from the Hope Meadows complex work with special needs children and teens for at least six hours weekly, providing them with a nurturing, caring relationship with an adult who is always nearby. Last year, the seniors gave 7,600 hours working directly with the youths, and also donated more than 2,500 hours helping parents and working at Hope's Intergenerational Center.

CATEGORY V (population 12,001 to 29,000)

1st Place-Batavia -- The Fox River, which divides Batavia, was a dumping ground that added little to a deteriorating downtown. Volunteers formed the Batavia Riverwalk Committee to clean up the area and create a new recreational attraction that would bring shoppers downtown.

1st Place-Freeport -- "Do the Right Thing," a program operated under the authority of the Freeport Police Department, services school-age youths throughout the community in building self-esteem, providing positive role models, and enhancing positive relations between police and youths.

2nd Place -Crete and Monee Townships -- A group of concerned parents formed the Crete-Monee School District Business-Education Partnership Committee to help develop local resources and offset drastic cuts in curriculum and staffing in the five schools that make up District #201-U.

3rd Place-Jacksonville and South Jacksonville -- Started in 1950, the Jacksonville Elks Youth Baseball program had more than 630 boys and girls participating in 1998. The league is run by Elks Lodge #682, whose members serve as umpires, grounds crews and coaches, with volunteer support from the entire area.

1st Place-Bloomingdale -- Well aware that senior citizens are often viewed as targets by con men and other criminals, the Bloomingdale Police Department organized "Street Smart Seniors," a six-week course designed to educate senior citizens about abusive treatment, fraud, gangs and safety.

2nd Place -Mundelein -- Mundelein's police department has opened a dialogue with local seniors that is helping to reduce crime and the fear of crime. Key to the effort is the "Senior Police Academy," held at the Mundelein Senior Center, which invites seniors to learn about financial exploitation of seniors, elder abuse, and home repair and telemarketing scams that often target senior citizens.

1st Place-Edwardsville -- Concerned that few residents shopped in downtown Edwardsville, community leaders decided to start a farmers' market to bring people downtown. Volunteers helped develop a budget, raised funds, organized educational demonstrations, promoted the market, recruited entertainment and vendors, and adopted rules.

CATEGORY VI (population 33,001 to 50,000)

1st Place-Elk Grove Village -- Construction of the Elk Grove Town Center and Village Green parkway created a downtown in this suburban community. The "Camelot on the Green" celebration was conceived as a way to celebrate the completion of the project and raise funds for beautification of the area. Volunteers spent more than 1,000 hours organizing and preparing for the celebration.

2nd Place -Pekin -- A number of organizations and businesses joined together to create Global Connection 2000, a computer network linking homes to schools and various community resources. The technology network, developed and supported with the help of volunteers and made possible through assistance from area businesses, won a Technology Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

1st Place-Glenview -- The Glenview Senior Club celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1998 by taking on four challenges -- one for each decade. Under the theme, "Volunteers Made the Difference," GSC tackled health care, crafts, development of a new community center and organization of an event to honor past and present volunteers.

2nd Place -Lisle and Woodridge -- When funding constraints threatened some activities at the local Fire District, senior volunteers stepped in to help ensure they continued. These volunteers assisted with many tasks, from filing to developing programs that streamline clerical and information reporting operations.

3rd Place-Quincy -- When private citizens could no longer operate the Great River Golden Games, the Quincy YMCA and Park District stepped in to help. Volunteers, many themselves seniors, helped serve meals, register participants, provide entertainment and staff the hospitality and track and field areas.

1st Place-Galesburg -- A volunteer steering committee developed a plan to create a not-for-profit Center for Manufacturing Excellence at Carl Sandburg College. Local businesses, unions and individuals donated funds to help build the 30,000 square-foot facility. Ground was broken in October 1998 for the complex, which will serve as the home of the Galesburg Business and Technology Center.

2nd Place -Alton -- Alton's Rock Spring Park is the site each year for the annual Celebration of Christmas light display. Sponsored by the not-for-profit Community Celebrations Inc., which donates proceeds to local charities, the 1998 display featured a 1.5 mile drive through the 65-acre park. More than 700 volunteers donated their time to string and remove lights, and staff a gift shop, Santa's house and a petting zoo.

CATEGORY VII (population 50,000 to 100,000)

1st Place-Aurora Township -- Volunteer contractors, laborers, tradesmen, sheriff's deputies, jail inmates and high school building trades students pitched in to help renovate a building to serve as a new Sheriff's Department Substation. The new facility has been instrumental in furthering the cause of community policing in the area, and has also dramatically reduced response times on calls to the area.

2nd Place -DeKalb County -- The Voluntary Action Center of DeKalb County utilizes volunteers to help operate medical transportation services, Meals on Wheels and special Senior Luncheons to help seniors meet their needs for socialization, nutrition and independence.

1st Place-Cicero -- Over the past six years, youth crime has diminished in Cicero, thanks in part to the efforts of the Cicero Youth Commission. The Commission depends upon volunteer "youth commissioners" who donate their time and energy to the nearly 40 programs overseen by the commission. Programs emphasize family values and include academic, social and athletic activities.

2nd Place -Knox County -- Knox County Teen Court is a diversion program designed for misdemeanor youth offenders who have no prior court record. A jury of trained student volunteers listens to attorneys present cases then agrees on a sentence. Once a judge approves and the defendant and parents or guardians sign a contract, charges are dismissed. The program is entirely voluntary, and relies on support from area organizations, businesses, government and attorneys.

3rd Place-Joliet -- The Forest Park Community Center provides young people in Joliet's Forest Park neighborhood with positive alternatives to gangs and crime. Area residents, businesses and local government officials transformed a vacant office into a community center, and volunteers continue to staff its programs.

1st Place-Whiteside County -- The Agape Care Center provides free health services to those in need. Housed in the Rock River Christian Center, the Agape Center receives donated space, utilities and security from the church, and the church's secretary provides clerical support. Medical equipment and supplies have also been donated. Whiteside County is the winner of the 1999 Governor's Cup.

2nd Place -Rich Township -- The Pantry of Rich Township, an extension unit of the Salvation Army, provides food to more than 1,600 people each month. The Pantry depends on its volunteers, many of them seniors, who staff various programs and also assist with fundraising efforts and organizing food drives.

CATEGORY VIII (population over 100,000)

1st Place-St. Clair County -- Proud Partners, a local organization devoted to improving the quality of life in St. Clair County, organized a massive litter pick-up on 558 miles of highway in the county. More than 4,100 volunteers participated, and thanks to their efforts, more than 60 tons of trash were collected and approximately 6,300 pounds of cans were recycled.

2nd Place -Chicago -- Working with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District, Friends of the Parks annually organizes one of the largest Earth Day celebrations in the Midwest--its Earth Day Parks Cleanup. In May 1998, more than 3,500 people helped make 100 Chicago parks cleaner andsafer, performing such projects as mulching and planting trees and removing litter and debris.

3rd Place-Springfield -- The Springfield Community Relations Commission organized a series of study circles that allowed individuals from diverse backgrounds to get to know one another on a personal basis. The volunteers moved on to analyze current community policies and make recommendations to help advance understanding and acceptance of diversity.

1st Place-Peoria County -- The Arts in Education Spring Celebration provides a showcase for the talents of Peoria-area students. The seven-week celebration includes lunch-hour performances each day on the Courthouse Plaza in downtown Peoria. The 1998 Celebration featured more than 300 performances by bands, orchestras, choirs and dramatists, plus more than 200 fine art and applied art exhibits and demonstrations.

2nd Place -Aurora -- Volunteers helped Communities in Schools Academy renovate space in the Aurora Community Center so services could be expanded to help at risk tenth grade students. Tradespeople donated services; students, staff and parents helped pack and move equipment, businesses gave materials free or at cost; media provided publicity and service clubs made contributions.

3rd Place -Maine Township -- The Maine Township Task Force Against Gangs, through its Alternative Programs for Kids committee, created a Drop-In Center to give area youths a place to gather and participate in structured, positive activities. Volunteers give one or two evenings each week, becoming mentors to the students who frequent the Center. Last year, nearly 700 youths participated in activities.

1st Place-Wheeling Township -- Homebound seniors need socialization with others, yet many find themselves alone day after day. Wheeling Township's Friendly Visitor Program matches these senior citizens with volunteers who visit their homes, take them on outings and help with their shopping needs. To date, 60 volunteers are participating in the program.

1st Place-Chicago -- The Comprehensive Community Organization is dedicated to restoring economic health to the Austin community of Chicago. One of its activities is a job readiness and placement program. Volunteers organized job fairs, identifying job openings, recruiting prospective employers, interviewing jobs seekers and helping to match openings with applications on file. As a result, 107 people have been place in new jobs.


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