MATTOON (JG-TC) — Six area residents have been selected for Jefferson Awards for 2013.
The six are Stan Adkins, Michele Lensink, Craig Lindvahl, Kaye Miller, Melanie Mills and Mike Murray. The group represents the 10th class of Jefferson Award winners from East Central Illinois.
Jefferson Awards are a national program that recognizes public service. In numerous areas across the country including East Central Illinois, local media partner with the national Jefferson Awards organization to select “unsung heroes” who make unique contributions within their communities, often for little or no pay. The recipients are to be recognized at a dinner on May 2 at the Mattoon Golf & Country Club and a community breakfast in the fall. Both events are open to the public. More details on the dinner will be available in the next week.
One person from each local participating area attends the national Jefferson Awards program in Washington, D.C. in June. Lindvahl is to represent East Central Illinois this year.
A committee of five people made the selections, whose nominations include multiple letters on the individuals’ background and accomplishments.
“This is another outstanding group of recipients,” said Carl Walworth, publisher of the JG-TC, which is the Jefferson Awards media partner in East Central Illinois. “This group of nominations was impressive both for its quality and quantity, and presented challenges for the committee.
“Again, it is a group that represents a broad base of talents and interests, and showcases some of the individuals who make unique contributions to enhance lives of others.”
Lindvahl is a nationally renowned educator and accomplished filmmaker and musical director. Most recently, he’s being cited for his pioneering role developing a high school entrepreneur class that is changing the way some young people view their hometowns, both in Lindvahl’s home community of Effingham and a growing list of other communities including Coles County.
Prior to taking Lindvahl’s high school class, one of the questions asked of students was: “Do you think you will return to Effingham County after college?” Three of 25 responded they would before taking the class; 21 of 25 indicated they would after taking the class.
The interactive curriculum that in Effingham is called CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) has students from all of Effingham County’s high schools, meets at 7:30 a.m. and often involves interacting with professionals throughout the community. Students learn everything from etiquette to business operations. A requirement is to develop and implement detailed business plans.
The year concludes with a trade show that highlights some of the best work. Of the 89 students that took the class in the first four years, 88 have gone on to college, with one joining the Navy Seals.
Lindvahl received 12 Mid America Emmy’s and 11 Telly awards for television excellence.
Miller seems to show up wherever someone is needed in and around Oakland, according to letters supporting her nomination. She is perhaps best known for the hundreds of hours she’s devoted for more than 20 years to keeping the Oakland public swimming pool in operation, spending mornings, afternoons and evenings maintaining the pool, employing, scheduling and supervising seasonal personnel.
Miller is a leader in the community’s outreach, multiple times through the year mailing care packages to hometown military men and women serving in the armed forces. Miller’s been known to prepare a meal for a grieving family she doesn’t personally know; she organized meals for residents whose home sustained water damage from a rainstorm; and she’s active in the Oakland Christian Church, including going on a mission team to Haiti.
On a personal level, Miller donated a kidney to a brother who was in ill health.
Murray’s list of community contributions includes being chairman of the Coles Community Health Program that established the Coles County Community Health clinic, a former director and executive committee member of the Mattoon YMCA board, volunteer at the Coles County Council on Aging, EIU Panther Club and Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Prior to coming to Coles County, he traveled to the Soviet Union on a goodwill mission. Murray is a small-business owner and works for the EIU Foundation.
Adkins’ list of contributions include the Charleston Civic Association, Coles County Soil & Water Conservation District, Coles County Solid Waste study committee, Coles County Master Gardener, Charleston Tree Board past president, Boy Scout merit badge counselor, Lifespan Center RSVP program advisory board, Charleston Liquor Commission, University of Illinois Coles County Extension Foundation, IHSA state golf advisory committee and state tournament rules official, Illinois and Charleston Education Association and the Illinois Coaches Association.
Lensink had a lead role in the revitalization of the Mattoon Area Family YMCA. As board president for more than three years, she led as the Y changed course, revitalized a fundraising and building program, then developing what today is a top-performing Y with a record membership of 5,899.
Lensink’s tenure on the Y board is at 12-plus years.
Mills coordinated since 1999 the Charleston Rotary Club’s literacy program that’s supplied books to first-grade students. Mills was a Girl Scout leader for 13 years, then advised a Boy Scout venturing crew.
She coordinates home care meal delivery at Immanual Lutheran Church. She is a charter member of the Women Connected philanthropy group at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System. Recently Mills led an effort to save the Jackson Avenue Coffee business in Charleston from closing when she coordinated a community-based fundraiser.
Another recent contribution was coordination of an anti-bullying conference for hundreds of local educators. In her Heritage Woods neighborhood, Mills organizes the Secret Santa gift exchange that promotes a sense of community.
Individual profiles on the recipients are to be published in the coming weeks in the JG-TC.