Georgia Costello, president of Southwestern Illinois College, said she’s attended many prayer breakfasts but never had been asked to give the keynote speech. But that all changed Wednesday when at Mayor Mark Eckert’s request, she delivered the inspirational message for the 51st annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
She praised the community’s volunteer spirit and challenged the crowd of about 500 to keep that spirit moving forward and to follow SWIC’s motto of “Rise to Serve.”
“How many times a day, ladies and gentlemen, do each of us gratefully accept a simple, helpful act? And that is the definition of service, by the way: A simple, helpful act. The more pertinent question is how many times a day do each of us provide a simple, helpful act to others?”
What a great group of people you are that represent this city. Keep the faith.
SWIC President Georgia Costello
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“What a great city we live in,” Costello said. “What a great group of people you are that represent this city. Keep the faith.”
Costello was appointed president in 2008. She is the first former student and the first woman to serve as president of the college.
Costello, who noted the community college celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, also told the audience about some of SWIC’s accomplishments:
▪ More than 92 percent of the allied health agency graduates pass their licensure exams on their first attempt.
▪ SWIC has more students in the precision machining technology program pass the National Institute for Metalworking Skills examinations than all but two states. “That is SWIC by its lonesome, I’m sure that’s not something that you hear very often,” she said.
▪ Most firefighters, EMTs and police officers in the region graduated from SWIC.
▪ Over 10,000 people have completed the community college’s GED certificate program.
Eckert told the audience that Fischer’s Restaurant at 2100 W. Main St. has hosted the annual prayer breakfast for “many, many years” and that he missed the longtime owner Kenny Fischer, who died last month at 84.
“He and his family have always been very good hosting events like this and taking it very professional, very serious,” Eckert said. He said the Fischer family has always been “gracious” hosts.
“The prayer breakfast is a time to come together in reflection of our faith, to certainly reflect on positive character in the community,” Eckert said.