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Cairo Volunteers Recognized as Part of Black History Month Celebration

On Saturday, February 17, 2024, Volunteer Programs Manager, Jacob Jenkins, and Downstate Volunteer Programs Coordinator Anthony Wanless, along with Serve Illinois Executive Director Andres Fernandez traveled to Cairo, Illinois to recognize Rise Community Market and Café. Under the leadership of Steven Tarver and the Rise Community cooperative board, volunteers from Cairo and surrounding areas, including Southern Illinois University Carbondale and members of the local 4-H club, came together to fight food insecurity.

Cairo, Illinois, like many small cities, has had to deal with major issues throughout the years, such as a decline in population, loss of sustainable jobs, natural disasters, and divestment. This in turn leads to food insecurity. However, during the pandemic, the citizens of Cairo, Illinois, which included Steven Tarver and Marcella Woodson, created the Rise Community Market and the Rise & Shine Deli Café.

The Rise Community Market is a co-op with a membership that exceeds over 300 individuals from across the country who have demonstrated a commitment to Cairo’s revitalization. Serve Illinois Volunteer Programs staff witnessed this first-hand as they toured the facility and listened to Steven Tarver as he explained the courageous efforts it took and commended each one of the volunteers for participating in the process.

As part of Black History Month and the State of Illinois’ theme of “Knowing the Past Open Doors for the Future,” Serve Illinois formally recognized the Rise Community Market volunteers with the Office of the Governor Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service Certificate of Appreciation presented as an expression of our appreciation for their outstanding contributions on behalf of the people of the State of Illinois. This certificate is one of the highest honors an Illinoisian can receive for volunteerism and service and bears the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve”. A total of 49 volunteers were recognized.

As part of AmeriCorps’ 30th Anniversary, Serve Illinois conducted a special presentation recognizing Steven Tarver as an Honorary AmeriCorps member with the Office of the Governor Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service Certificate for exemplifying AmeriCorps’ core values. Steven Tarver has demonstrated that service is not a moment, but a movement.

Congratulations to the City of Cairo and Rise Community Market for their outstanding work in their community! To learn more about Rise Community Market, head to