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News Release - April 11, 2016

News Release – Monday, April 11, 2016

Illinoisans Receive Governor’s Volunteer Service Award

7th Annual Awards Ceremony to be Held on April 13thin Springfield

SPRINGFIELD – The Serve Illinois Co​mmission on Volunteerism and Community Service will present 25 Illinoisans and 5 businesses with the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award during a special reception at the Old State Capitol on April 13, 2016 at 1 p.m. The award recognizes volunteers and volunteer programs that have made a difference in Illinois and highlights the importance of volunteerism and community service.

“These 30 awardees represent the work that 2.51 million Illinoisans do each year,” said Scott McFarland, Executive Director. “The work these individuals and businesses do make the lives of thousands better through volunteer efforts including helping the homeless, youth education and assisting needy veterans. We are honored to have the opportunity to highlight their service.”

The Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards focus on five areas: Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Conservation, Disaster Preparedness/Response, Health, and Veterans’ Affairs.

Individual awards in each of the commission’s five service regions (Northeast, Northwest, East Central, West Central and Southern Illinois) are presented in three categories: youth ages 18 and under, adult ages 19-54 and seniors ages 55 and older. Additionally, National Service Awards are presented to one Senior Corps and AmeriCorps member in each region. This year marks the third time that the Business Volunteer Engagement Awards will be presented in each region.

This year, Governor Bruce Rauner and Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Nirav Shah, will be attending the event.

Additionally, in 2016 awardees include the most senior and junior award winners since the awards induction. They are Bennie Mae Gavin at 91 years of age, a Foster Grandparent who works with disadvantaged youth, and Kellon Oldenettel, who collected thousands of socks for local homeless individuals, at 7 years of age.

The following are the 2016 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award recipients. Recipient biographies can be found on Serve Illinois’ website at

The event is open to the press.

Southern Illinois Award Recipients

  • Adult: Anthnoy Wyatt – Murphysboro
    • For service to: Southern Illinois Care Connect Program
  • AmeriCorps Member: Shanae Drummond – East St. Louis
    • For service to: East St. Louis School District 189
  • Business: Dynegy – Collinsville
    • For service to: East Side Aligned Pathway’s Action Team
  • Senior: Jane Perr – West Frankfort
    • For service to: American Red Cross of South Central Illinois
  • Senior Corps Member: Esther Walker – Flora
    • For service to: Clay County Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry
  • Youth: Shane Douglas – Waterloo
    • For service to: Waterloo VFW Post 6504 & Waterloo City Cemetery

East Central Illinois Award Recipients

  • Adult: Jamie Waldhoff – Effingham
    • For service to: Blessings in a Backpack
  • AmeriCorps Member: Ben Mullison – Decatur
    • For service to: Knox County Circuit Clerk
  • Business: Deb’s Catering – Altamont
    • For service to: Local Area Veterans
  • Senior: Ed Hohenstein – Springfield
    • For service to: Habitat For Humanity of Sangamon County
  • Senior Corps Member: Mary Yokem – Springfield
    • For service to: One Hope United Foster Grandparents
  • Youth: Diamond Jackson – Springfield
    • For service to: District 186 School Board

West Central Illinois Award Recipients

  • Adult: Anthony Allen- Peoria
    • For service to: Holy Family Parish School
  • AmeriCorps Member: Abby Hilsabeck- Jacksonville
    • For service to: Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois
  • Business: Mount Sterling IGA – Mount Sterling
    • For service to: The Brown County Community
  • Senior: Stephen Lakin – Murrayville
    • For service to: Murrayville Woodson Emergency Ambulance Service
  • Senior Corps Member: Jo Ellen Dollinger - Monmouth
    • For service to: Jamieson Community Center
  • Youth: Kellon Oldenettel - Jacksonville
    • For service to: Kellon’s Sock Drawer

Northwest Illinois Award Recipients

  • Adult: Christina De Voney - Dixon
    • For service to: Lee County Volunteer Corps at Lee County Health Department
  • AmeriCorps Member: Haley Thomas – Mount Morris
    • For service to: Ogle County Emergency Management Agency and Health Department
  • Business: Deere and Company – Moline
    • For service to: Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging RSVP program
  • Senior: Emma Hoke – Milan
    • For service to: Handy Buds 4-H Group
  • Senior Corps Member: Richard Burroughs – Moline
    • For service to: American Red Cross, Moline
  • Youth: Saneha Kaur Borisuth – Moline
    • For service to: Moline Sports Unlimited at Moline High School

Northeast Illinois Award Recipients

  • Adult: Kaite O’Brien – Chicago
    • For service to: Rape Victim Advocates
  • AmeriCorps Member: Shelbi Ball – Geneva
    • For service to: Northern Illinois Food Bank
  • Business: DuPage Medical Group – DuPage
    • For service to: Peoples Resource Center and DuPage Habitat for Humanity
  • Senior: Ronald Grais – Chicago
    • For service to: Thresholds
  • Senior Corps Member: Bennie Mae Gavin – Joliet
    • For service to: Foster Grandparent – Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet
  • Youth: K’Von Jackson – Chicago
    • For Service to: Holy Name Cathedrals Blessings in a Backpack

The Serve Illinois Commission is a 40-member (25 voting and 15 non-voting), bi-partisan board appointed by the Governor and administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Its mission is to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the State.