Kimmel Awards honor student, community volunteers

News-DemocratApril 30, 2014 

— Two community volunteers and exceptional students were honored at the annual Kimmel Awards ceremony at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Wednesday.

The Kimmel Community Service award honors community members for notable volunteer service, in memory of the late Carol Kimmel, a 12-year trustee for SIU and 30-year volunteer for many organizations, including March of Dimes, the National Parent-Teacher Association, the White House Conference on Children and Youth and the Community Education Advisory Council of the U.S. Office of Education.

Ruth Ann Erdmann of Shiloh and Robert Teahan of Fairview Heights were honored this year.

Erdmann is a Belleville native who returned to the community in 1999, seeking to reconnect with her hometown. She has been a volunteer for the Belleville Community Development Corp., Belleville Heritage Society and is president of the Swansea Rotary Club. Erdmann goes beyond organizing dinner auctions and events to serve as Mrs. Claus for the St. Clair Historical Society's candlelight house tours.

Teahan has served 40 years as chairman of the Fairview Heights zoning board of appeals, assisting as a volunteer during the city's growth into a shopping destination. Teahan said his decisions may not always be popular, but they always followed the rules, "preserving the integrity of land use in the city of Fairview Heights."

The Kimmel Scholarship was awarded to Stephanie Bargiel of Granite City, a dual major in biochemistry and biomedical sciences.

Bargiel has a 3.3 GPA and contributed more than 500 hours of community service over the last two years as a volunteer working against homelessness and poverty. She coordinated monthly donation drives and meal deliveries into East St. Louis with the Alliance of Students Against Poverty, and helped obtain a startup grant for SIUE Campus Kitchens.

"Before attending SIUE, I was ignorant to the deficits of my world, my state and my own community," Bargiel said. "By engaging in services offered through the Kimmel Student Involvement Center, I stand today accountable to the needs of our community, great and small."

Many student awards also were presented, including certificates from the Student Leadership Development Program; the Alumni Association Awards; Student Volunteer Awards; Volunteer Service awards for faculty, staff and community agencies; Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities; Outstanding and Emerging Student Leaders; Student Organization of the Year; Program of the Year; Outstanding Community Service Project; and Advisers of the Year.

Previously known as the Kimmel Leadership Center, the organization is now known as the Kimmel Student Involvement Center. Associate Director Michelle Welter said the new name better reflects the breath of services provided to students.

The center coordinates the Student Leadership Development Program, which recognizes students for completing programs of social change, civic engagement and more, plus 30 hours of community service.

The students volunteered in many places, including the construction of a playground at Edwardsville Township Park, Edwardsville Children's Museum, the Hope Clinic, Watershed Nature Center, Project Restore, Glen-Ed Food Pantry, Lutheran Senior Services, American Red Cross, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University Institute of Public Health, the Salvation Army, Faith in Action, St. Louis Crisis Nursery, Edwardsville Community Center, Pere Marquette Juvenile Center, St. Louis Walk for Autism, the Nature Institute, Pujols Family Foundation, Mission Clean Stream, Girl Scouts, the American Cancer Society, Madison County Humane Society, and many on-campus organizations as well.

This year, the university recognized Dance Marathon 2014 as the program of the year. Sponsored by Miracle Workers of SIUE, the participants raised $30,000 for the Children's Miracle Network, which will benefit St. Louis Children's Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.

The Constructors Club of SIUE was honored as community service project of the year, for its immediate response to the November 2013 tornado that devastated Washington, Ill. Over the holidays, the club hung lights for Edwardsville homes in exchange for donations to fund their spring break trip to help rebuild Washington. The students arrived to face 4 inches of snow and a power outage, yet still helped six homeowners rebuild and removed debris from 50 to 60 homes.

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