BELLEVILLE — Thirteen people will be honored Tuesday night at the fifth annual Belleville Achieves Strength in Character dinner.
The BASIC Initiative event will start at 6 p.m. at Fischer's Restaurant in Belleville.
Organizers said they especially looked for "unsung individuals," or people who make an ongoing, positive difference in the community without the intention of drawing attention to themselves.
This year's award winners are:
Carson, a crossing guard at Douglas Elementary School, is known as "Mr. Carl" to nearly three decades of school children. And, since 1977, Carson has volunteered at Westview Church, where he serves as a Sunday school assistant and in community events such as Vacation Bible School, highway clean-up and Fall Festival. Carson doesn't own a vehicle, and simply walks or bikes when he can't get a ride, but those at the church and school know he will be there when they need him -- rain or shine.
Richard D. Cavalier
Cavalier, a retired Belleville Public School District 201 director of special services, worked "tirelessly" to provide quality services to students with disabilities. The Bridges and Connections transition program for students 18 to 22 was established under his leadership and serves as a model program in Illinois. He also served as an administrator, teacher and coach. Now, he continues to help youths as president of the Belleville Optimist Club. He and his wife are Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors.
Bill and Diane Denison
The Denisons have served as mentors to Jefferson School students for eight years, working on values and self-esteem as well as craft projects like building bird feeders and frosting cookies. Diane Denison, a Jefferson graduate, also tutors first graders in math, reading and spelling. She listens "when they want to share whatever is in their hearts." The couple has also been involved in the National Eagle Scout Association with their son, Neighborhood Watch and SWIC's Programs and Services for Older Persons.
Dintelmann, a nurseryman, lends many hands in work, church, school and community. He can be found fundraising for Belleville Public School District 118 or voluntarily hauling tents and tables for Old Town Market vendors. He leads the Horticultural Club in landscaping and building projects that has saved Union United Methodist Church thousands of dollars. Dintelmann, a founding member of the Scott Field Heritage Air Park, continues to help the base. He also helps the Turkey Hill Grange, Belleville Optimist Club and BEACON.
Gibson-Cipfl, founder and president of ADAPT4Autism, is the change she wishes to see in the world. The nonprofit provides programs such as day and overnight summer camps and swimming lessons designed for children with autism spectrum disorder. She tweaks the programs for each participant, helping them work towards increased autonomy and social success. Gibson-Cipfl also works at Belleville Public School District 118 as a consultant on teaching strategies for children with autism.
The Rev. Rick Hodshire
Hodshire serves as the community outreach minister and elder at Cornerstone Christian Church in Shiloh and board president at BEACON in Belleville. He was also pastor at Cornerstone for more than 25 years. His work is not just a job to him, but his passion. He is usually the first one of the church staff to step forward and volunteer. With his leadership, the ministry group has assisted more than 2,250 adults and children this year through August with needs such as transportation, furniture, money and gas totaling $46,889.
Hogrebe's life is a testament to the "Beatitudes." As a volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul in her parish community, she has chosen a life of service to others. She channels her boundless energy, eternal optimism and complete focus to provide for the poor and dispossessed. Hogrebe's fellow volunteers say they can't help but be uplifted and motivated by her -- especially when they get email from her and notice that she sent it at 2:30 a.m. Hogrebe helped start programs such as budgeting and parenting classes and Dress for Success.
Leonard is an unsung individual "singing her heart out at Douglas Elementary School." Leonard volunteers countless hours to the school's Tiger Choir -- mornings, after school, evenings and weekends -- to fill the hallways with songs and smiles. Leonard not only sets goals to help improve students' musical abilities, she urges them to increase camaraderie, respect each other and practice good habits for long-term success. When asked to describe their teacher, her choir kids say she is fun, kind, humorous and a good listener.
Ludlum, a retired teacher and drama theater activist, has a caring and compassionate nature that nurtures confidence in others to go beyond their comfort zone. She leads the Union United Methodist Church drama team and a summer drama camp for youths. She also edits newsletters for the church and Turkey Hill Grange. For the Grange, she directed two theater productions and an interactive play this past year. The shows were not meant to be fundraisers, but yielded enough to fund $2,000 scholarships for two graduating Belleville seniors.
Lyke, who has lived in the same Belleville home for more than 60 years, has persevered through trials by believing that hard work and good character brings success. She was one of a few African American students to graduate from Belleville Township High School in the 1930s. Her job opportunities were limited at the time, so she worked as a maid. In the 1960s, she addressed unfair housing practices in the city by founding a fair housing group. She has been a Jefferson School mentor for nearly 20 years.
For about two decades, Price has been involved in Belleville classrooms and as a Special Olympics coach. He currently teaches children in a "cross categorical classroom" and previously taught students with behavioral and emotional disabilities. He has served as the president of a parent teacher organization for exceptional children and managed the PTOEC summer camp, which provides social development for those with mental impairments. He coached Team USA three times for the Special Olympics World Games.
Weisenstein is a living example that life should be an ongoing education and that one should serve others in work and volunteerism. In 40 years, she worked as the Emge School librarian and then served in the classroom or principal's office of Wolf Branch, Belle Valley South and Belle Valley North. She has received the Emerson Excellence in Teaching award. In retirement, she is a volunteer coordinator for St. Paul's United Church of Christ and a shift leader at the Community Interfaith Food Pantry. She relaxes by knitting caps and shawls for those with cancer.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at email@example.com or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.