Each year, the BASIC Initiative, of Belleville, a non-profit organization that encourages character development and community service, recognizes a few notable examples of “Citizens of Character” at its annual dinner.
The following Belleville citizens, who were nominated by their fellow community members, will be recognized for their character: Tim Adams and Gary Schwendeman, Sharon Goff, C. Renee Goodman, Christine Green, Susan Harris, Cory Hartz, Edward Hoering, Barbara Joseph, Cyndi Oberle-Dahm, Rich Peppers, Jennifer Schauster and Judy Blase Woodruff. The late Steve Suess will also receive a special honor.
According to the BASIC Initiative, these are the qualities of a Citizen of Character: “The citizens who demonstrate character do so through an ongoing process; it isn’t defined by a job, an event, a project and certainly not a means to draw attention to one’s self. It is doing the right thing at the right time.”
The 10th annual Mary McHugh Citizens of Character Dinner will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the 4204 Main Street Brewing Company Banquet Center, 6435 W. Main St., Belleville. Fellowship begins at 6 p.m. with the dinner and program following. Tickets cost $40 per person or $320 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets, call 618-233-5877 or email EEckert@kaskaskiaeng.com.
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2017 Citizens of Character
▪ Tim Adams and Gary Schwendeman are customer-focused and kid-friendly vendors at the local produce store and farmer’s market. They have assisted with the transition program for students with disabilities in Belleville District 201 and donate to those in need. According to the BASIC Initiative: “Tim and Gary set an example for the Belleville community.”
▪ Sharon Goff is involved with Belleville Tourism and the Belleville Chamber of Commerce. She volunteers to assist with the 9/11 Memorial Walkway, Interfaith Food Pantry and the Shelter Shop. Sharon is being recognized for “working quietly, not wanting recognition, and selflessly giving of her time for the good of others and her community.”
▪ C. Renee Goodman retired from a career as teacher and administrator in Belleville District 118. She now volunteers as a librarian at Henry Raab School and as editor of the school yearbook at Abraham Lincoln School. The BASIC Initiative is honoring Goodman because “she takes on projects that enrich the lives of our students and, in doing so, makes our schools and community a better place for everyone.”
▪ Christine Green works in the General and Community Assistance Office, helping those in need. She also volunteers at her church, is working on her bachelor’s degree and raising a family. Of Green, the BASIC Initiative says: “She believes we have a responsibility to care for each other and help where we can. We are lucky to have Christine working for and living in Belleville.”
▪ Susan Harris is the athletic department secretary at Belleville East High School and the survivor of two battles with breast cancer. She worked throughout her treatment and the school adopted the mantra #fightlikesusan to encourage students who were dealing with adversity. According to BASIC Initiative: “She is one-of-a-kind and very well loved by her friends and colleagues who believe they are better people because Susan is in their lives.”
▪ Cory Hartz is a pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ. He is co-chair of the Community Development Network’s Backbone Support Group for Homelessness and has worked to establish a hospitality center for the homeless. He is a BASIC Initiative Citizen of Character because “he asks for nothing and gives everything for those in need.”
▪ Edward Hoering has spent his professional career assisting metro-east businesses and clients with accounting, tax and business consulting. He is a community advocate and volunteered for a number of community boards and projects. “His commitment to responsibility and citizenship make Ed a man worthy of recognition as a Citizen of Character,” says the BASIC Initiative.
▪ Barbara Joseph is active at her church and works as the Turkey Hill Grange’s “gravy and jelly lady.” She leads a team of volunteers at the Grange to make about 1,000 jars of jam, jelly and apple butter during the summer months. According to the BASIC Initiative: “Barb Joseph is caring, respected, has an unusual amount of self-discipline, and certainly serves as one of our community’s unsung heroes.”
▪ Cyndi Oberle-Dahm is a social studies teacher at Belleville West. She works with World Link to bring exchange students to local schools and volunteers her time as sponsor to clubs and activities. The BASIC Initiative is honoring Cyndi because: “Every student needs a champion, and the students at Belleville West certainly have one in Mrs. Oberle-Dahm.”
▪ Rich Peppers supports many organizations and projects in Belleville. He works with the Parent Teacher Organization for Exceptional Children and coaches Special Olympics. “He is a selfless individual that strives to make a difference in the lives of others,” says the BASIC Initiative.
▪ Jennifer Schauster is a teacher at Immaculate Conception School, volunteers at Camp Ondessonk and serves as treasurer for the Belleville West Band Parent Association. She also supports her children’s grade school as a member of the Roosevelt School Parent Teacher Association and chaperone for Odyssey of the Mind. The BASIC Initiative says, “Jen has a tremendous impact on the youth in our community and region.”
▪ Judy Blase Woodruff spent her career working to better society with Caritas Family Solutions. She mentors others and volunteers in the community. According to the BASIC Initiative: “Judy exemplifies a citizen of character through every avenue of her life.”
▪ Steve Suess served as BASIC Initiative board member and was chair until his death on Jan. 1, 2017. He was a life-long educator, teaching at Signal Hill School and later serving as principal of Kennerly Elementary School. Steve was active at Lindenwood University Belleville and participated in many community organizations and boards. The BASIC Initiative said: “We are indebted to Steve for his leadership and dedication to character education and the difference he made in the lives of those around him.”
At a Glance
BASIC stands for “Belleville Achieves Strength in Character.” The organization’s mission is: “To promote positive character development throughout the greater Belleville community.” Here are some things the BASIC Initiative does:
- Supports and promotes existing community services.
- Facilitates community projects and programs.
- Builds partnerships with local schools, churches, agencies and neighborhoods.
- Helps coordinate large scale community volunteer events.
- Helps raise funds to address community needs.
- Develops youth through hands-on projects.
- Provides speakers and training to promote community of character.
For more information about the BASIC Initiative, visit its website: www.thebasicinitiative.com.