Governor Pat Quinn today announced the winners of the 31st Annual Governor's Hometown Awards, which are presented to recognize volunteers for their work in improving their communities. The City of Mount Vernon was awarded the Governor's Cup, a traveling silver trophy presented to the group whose efforts are deemed most representative of the spirit of Illinois volunteerism. Today's awards ceremony in the Illinois Executive Mansion is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to encouraging and honoring the spirit of volunteerism in Illinois.
"The Governor's Home Town Awards honor the efforts of 22 remarkable groups who have selflessly dedicated their time and efforts to making their communities a better place to live," Governor Quinn said. "We applaud these groups of volunteers for improving the lives of others and truly making a difference in our state."
The City of Mount Vernon was awarded the Governor's Cup, recognizing the state's top community volunteer effort, for the Lifeboat Alliance. This group took a formerly abandoned and dilapidated nursing home building and turned it into a shelter for homeless families and individuals. The shelter also supplies case workers to help guests with job searches and financial planning. The Lifeboat Alliance used more than 300 community volunteers who donated 5,000 hours of service and $13,800 worth of materials toward the project. In addition, a total of $321,258 in private funds was raised to complete the project and operate the shelter.
The Governor's Home Town Award recipients are selected by volunteer judges who review and rank applications based on a variety of factors, including local need, volunteer participation, use of resources and the results achieved. The projects are judged within their population categories as well as within their assigned project categories. The project categories include services and mentorship, beautification and sustainability, parks and recreation, memorials and monuments and history and historic preservation. The judges then select one project from each population category to compete for the coveted Governor's Cup.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) administers the Governor's Home Town Awards Program. Each winning group receives a road sign for its community and plaque recognizing its efforts. The Governor's Cup winner receives the traveling trophy and a unique road sign that proclaims its status as the overall winner.
"These awards celebrate the spirit of volunteerism in Illinois," DCEO Director Adam Pollet said. "They show the connection between grass-roots activism and community improvement. When people unite behind a cause, they make a huge difference in the lives of their neighbors."
The 22 winning projects represent the work of nearly 5,000 volunteers who devoted more than 90,000 hours of their time. Their volunteer service was estimated to be worth $2.1 million, and the groups raised nearly $1.8 million in donated funds, materials and services. A complete list of all of the winners follows.
1 -- 1,500 Residents
Shelby County: Strasburg, Community Building Renovation. Volunteers raised funds to repair and renovate their community building, which had been severely damaged by burst pipes in the winter of 2010.
Jasper County: Sainte Marie, 175th Anniversary Celebration. A local group organized the village's three-day, 175th anniversary celebration attended by more than 7,000 people.
Pike County: Barry, Holy Redeemer Park & Western Community Center YMCA. The city worked with numerous organizations to develop a YMCA facility and adjacent local park with sports facilities.
Coles County: Ashmore Mentoring Program (Governor's Cup Finalist). This program provides a safe environment for youth to interact with positive role models.
1,501 -- 5,000 Residents
St. Clair County: Smithton, Veterans Memorial. The village raised funds and donations to develop a new veterans memorial for the community.
Tazewell County: Tremont, Community Center (Governor's Cup Finalist). Village leaders and volunteers transformed a vacant retail building into a community center.
5,001 -- 10,000 Residents
Monroe County: Waterloo, Bellefontaine Springs Beautification Project. A partnership of several local organizations beautified and improved an area used by settlers and residents since the 1780s.
St. Clair County: Mascoutah, 175th Anniversary Celebration. A group of volunteers planned and carried out the city's highly successful anniversary series of events.
Rock Island County: Silvis, Sisters' "Park." A wayside beautification project started by three women was transformed into a usable and welcoming space when volunteers and donors pitched in.
LaSalle County: LaSalle Promotional & Advisory Committee Community Project (Governor's Cup Finalist). This local organization planned four family oriented seasonal events to promote the community, encourage downtown shopping, and show city pride.
10,001 -- 25,000 Residents
Cook County: Melrose Park, Silver Creek Beautification Project. The village and Concordia University are continuing efforts to preserve the creek as a natural and community resource.
DuPage County: Bensenville, Helping Hands of Bensenville Fire Protection District. This program provides fire victims with moral support and assists them with their immediate needs.
Madison County: Wood River, Veteran's War Memorial. The community banded together to raise donations for the construction of a memorial honoring local residents who gave their lives in service to the nation.
Fulton County: Canton Veteran's Memorial. Volunteers raised funds and donated materials and services to construct a memorial for local veterans.
Will County: New Lenox, ShareFest 2012. Volunteers organized "Eleven Days of Giving" to help area residents struggling with basic needs.
Jefferson County: Mt. Vernon, Lifeboat Alliance (Governor's Cup Winner). Volunteers turned an abandoned nursing home into a homeless shelter and provided guests with job search and financial planning assistance.
25,000 -- 70,000 Residents
DuPage County: Woodridge Rotary Club Annual Mini Triathlon. This annual community event promotes healthy lifestyles and raises funds to support other local activities.
Cook County: Hoffman Estates, Fitness for America Sports Festival. This multi-day festival encourages healthy family lifestyles and helps local organizations raise funds for other activities.
Lake County: Round Lake Beach, 75th Anniversary Committee (Governor's Cup Finalist). This committee planned and carried out a year's worth of events to commemorate the village's 75th anniversary.
Over 70,000 Residents
Cook County: Schaumburg, Recycling Event. Volunteers organized an annual event that keeps 126,000 pounds of recyclables out of Illinois landfills each year.
Sangamon County: Springfield, History Comes Alive -- A Living History Program. Special programs using period re-enactors help bring history to life for tourists who visit the city's historic sites.
Kane County: Elgin, 2012 Summer Reading Program (Governor's Cup Finalist). This summer reading program "Reading is So Delicious" was completed by 3,768 children, more than doubling participation from the previous year.