The University of Illinois Springfield, Junior League of Springfield and the United Way of Central Illinois honored more than 40 Sangamon County volunteers, businesses and organizations during the 14th annual Good as Gold Ceremony on April 25, 2022 in the UIS Student Union.

The Good as Gold Ceremony was started in 2008 to honor people, businesses and organizations who freely give their time and talents to make Sangamon County a better place to live.

Distinguished Volunteer Award

Diane Rutledge of Springfield was honored with the 2022 Distinguished Volunteer Award. Rutledge is the former superintendent of schools for Springfield School District 186 and later served as the executive director of the Large Unit District Association. Currently, she serves as the sustainability coordinator for LEAD|ed, supporting school leaders in their school improvement efforts. She is a lifelong educator, and the majority of her volunteer work has focused on children, education and literacy.

“Recently, opportunities have opened to add support for women,” she said. “Research tells us that children have a greater chance for success when their homes are stable and they receive a strong foundation for learning. I passionately believe that if we have a literate, educated population, we have an improved chance to have a successful community. Education is a driver for economic development.”

Rutledge has served on the board of directors for a number of organizations including Springfield Memorial Hospital, United Way of Central Illinois, Illinois Women in Leadership and the Springfield Public Schools Foundation. The most important aspect of volunteering to Rutledge is when her efforts might have truly made a difference.

“When I was mentoring an elementary-aged student, she said to me, ‘I get it. You don’t have a little girl and I don’t have a mom. This works,’” she said.

The 2022 Distinguished Volunteer finalists include Teressa Shelton and Michael Thomas.

Star Student Award

University of Illinois Springfield senior accounting and business administration major Nathan Ptak of Princeville, Illinois was honored with the Star Student Award.

For Ptak, volunteering encompasses two main components: helping and fulfillment. “Helping means doing tasks people need you to do, and then completing more until the work is done,” he said. “The other part is fulfillment. You volunteer because you want to give up some of your time in a day. You do it because you enjoy it and it is fun, not because you want the glory or spotlight that comes with it.”

In the Springfield community, Ptak volunteers at Habitat for Humanity. “At Habitat for Humanity, I have done things like help set up the showroom and help locate and load up purchases,” he said. “I also priced goods that were donated by the community and have done some other tasks, like help break down boxes, recycle and throw away goods that couldn’t be sold.”

“I also do small projects with the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center on campus from time to time, like planting trees, building care packages and other events.”

To Ptak, the most important aspect of volunteering is the satisfaction of the people who are served. “Going there, seeing their gratitude and happiness that people want to give up their time to help them out is the most important aspect of volunteering,” he said.

Star Staff Award

Timothy Bill of Springfield, instructor of communication at the University of Illinois Springfield, was honored with the Star Staff Award for his volunteer efforts in the community.

Bill began working with the Coalition of Rainbow Alliances (CORAL) shortly after moving to Springfield in the fall of 2018. He was asked to join a grant-funded research project which focused on a need for more diverse leadership, more inclusiveness of multiple communities and greater communication with the broader public. Bill used these to advocate for change and persuade leadership to work toward these goals.

Over the years, Bill has remained heavily involved with CORAL. He co-chaired the organization’s bylaws subcommittee, and his efforts to rewrite the bylaws expanded the executive board and diversified its leadership. These changes resulted in the membership electing a record number of women to the board in 2021 and provided leadership opportunities for more people of different backgrounds and life experiences.

Bill also focused on increasing recognition and celebration of underrepresented sexual and gender minorities. He redesigned CORAL’s logo on its social media so that the identity flag recognizes and commemorates all LGBTQIA communities.

CORAL’s digital presence benefitted from Bill’s presence as well, as he designed a new website and worked to create a hybrid-meeting format. These meetings paired a limited, in-person gathering with Zoom participation for those who could not meet safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. His work helped ensure everyone had an opportunity to be involved and gave the public an opportunity to understand what CORAL was doing to help the community.

The other finalist for this award was Pamela Hulten.

Youth Volunteer Award

Colin Davis is a senior at Glenwood High School was honored with the Youth Volunteer Award. He has committed to attend Missouri State University in the fall of 2022. He is an avid fan of the Chicago Bears and a proud class of 2019 Eagle Scout. But his real passion is volunteering.

“Volunteering, to me, means helping others,” he said. “I believe many people in our community are in need, and as such need our help. I am most certainly glad to provide service to them.”

Davis has participated in a wide variety of volunteer activities over the past several years. “In my years in high school, I have volunteered with Glenwood High School Key Club and National Honor Society,” he said. Davis has also been involved with the Glenwood High School Speech Team, the Boy Scouts of America, his church, St. Joseph the Worker, as a faith formation teacher and Vacation Bible School station assistant leader, and with the Learn to Play Hockey program.

Other finalists for this award included Jaina Brandon and Nihar Cheruku.

Heart of Gold Community Awards

Twenty-one volunteers were also honored with the Heart of Gold Award. Recipients included: Kenzie Anderson, Amy Beadle, Rachel Burdick, Brad Butcher, Sharron Cooper, Jack Denny, Kim Diveley, Paul Duplessis, Angela Hayes, Doug Mayol, Kristi Morris, Ann Newton, Jerry Orban, Ed Sims, Gwen Smith, Colleen Stone, Abby Walsh, Joyce Wilson, Jan Wilson, Nance Woodward and Rexann Whorton Wright.

Organization of the Year Award

The winner of the 2022 Organization of the Year Award is Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Kappa Sigma Zeta Chapter. The sorority was founded on January 16, 1920, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. The service and volunteer organization is comprised of college-educated women from all 50 states with several chapters abroad.

“Our principles are scholarship, service, sisterhood and finer womanhood,” said Minnie Gillespie, vice president and scholarship coordinator of the Kappa Sigma Zeta Chapter in Springfield. “My chapter implements the national programs on a local level.”

Zeta Phi Beta has been volunteering and providing service on a national level for more than 100 years and in Springfield and central Illinois communities for over 41 years. Zeta Phi Beta‘s national and local programs include the endowment of its National Educational Foundation community outreach services along with the support of multiple affiliate organizations. Their chapters have given numerous hours of voluntary service to educate the public, assist youth, provide scholarships, support organized charities and promote legislation for social and civic change.

To Gillespie, volunteering means providing service or assistance to others in the community. “Help and assistance can take on several different forms, from financial to personal care needs to mentoring or assisting other organizations that provide services to the community,” she said. We are a community-conscious, action-oriented organization where we provide service to the community through a wide range of initiatives. These include signature programs such as our youth auxiliaries, mentoring and scholarship programs. We also support other causes, including the Ronald McDonald House, Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery, Sojourn Women’s Shelter, Boys and Girls Club, March of Dimes and many more.”

For members of Zeta Phi Beta, the most important aspect of volunteering has been helping others and seeing how individuals assisted by the organization have grown, developed and become productive members of the community. Gillespie is a great example, as she has served the community in a number or ways. As a former board member and treasurer of the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum, she serves the museum as a volunteer with the program committee.

She is involved in other nonprofits as well. “I currently serve the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Elderly Tax Counseling Program as a tax counselor. I am a former board member and officer of the Springfield Urban League Guild and Habitat for Humanity. I am also a former financial secretary for my church and currently volunteer as a Sunday school teacher and usher,” she said.

Business Honor Roll

A total of 12 Sangamon County businesses were named to the Business Honor Roll. The honor roll recognizes businesses that have made giving back to our community a priority. Awards were divided into four categories: businesses with 1-10 employees, 11-50 employees, 51-150 employees and more than 150 employees. One business in each category received the honor of Golden Distinction.

Businesses honored with 1-10 employees includes AlignLife of Springfield; Formea Insurance; Rediscover Your Dog; Sangamon Reclaimed; The Story Teller Studios and Underdog Sports, Memorabilia & Games. The Golden Distinction was awarded to AlignLife of Springfield. AlignLife has served a number of organizations including Kumler Outreach Ministries, 5th Street Renaissance, Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery, Refuge Ranch, Central Illinois Food Bank, Family Service Center and Community Youth Services.

In the 11-50 employee’s category, Three Twigs Bakery was honored with the Golden Distinction. Over the years, the staff of Three Twigs Bakery has worked with a number of organizations, including Inner City Mission, The James Project, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois, the food pantry at Kumler Outreach Ministries, Safe Families for Children, St. John’s Breadline and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois.

Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP (KEB) received the Golden Distinction award in the 51-150 employee’s category. KEB has supported numerous nonprofit organizations over the years. The Springfield office regularly supports United Way of Central Illinois, Habitat for Humanity, Girls on the Run, the Pregnancy Care Center of Springfield, Central Illinois Food Bank and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois.

The following businesses with 150 employees or more were honored: Bank of Springfield, Marine Bank, Scheels and Springfield Memorial Hospital. Springfield Memorial Hospital received the Golden Distinction designation. Memorial supports dozens of nonprofits each year, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois, Helping Hands of Springfield, the Springfield Immigrant Advocacy Network and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.