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Welcome New Board Members and Executive Committee

The Heart of Illinois United Way recently hosted our annual meeting for the election of officers and executive committee. Please join us in welcoming our newest members and leaders for 2024-2025.

2024-2025 Executive Committee

Sid P. Ruckriegel, Chair
SERVUS, Inc.

Robert C. Gates, Past Chair
Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, P.C.

Matthew Mamer, Vice Chair Resource Development
CECFU

Kylene M. Anthony. Vice Chair Community Investment
Caterpillar

Jenna Wiesner, Vice Chair Marketing & Community Engagement
PNC

Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Secretary
Peoria Public Schools

Seth A. Davis, Treasurer
RLI

Our newly elected board members include:

Christell Frausto
River City Grill

Kyle Gorden
Federal Companies

Micki K. McCarthy
Community Volunteer

Patrick Roesler
Vermeer Midwest

Robert G. Senneff
Graham Hospital

Tim Sprout
IBEW Local #34

Danette Swank
Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc.

Jenna Wiesner
PNC

Thank you to our 2024 Nominating Committee members: Patti Bash, Bob Gates, Monica Hendrickson, Brian Ray, and Sally Snyder.

Click here for a complete list of our 2024-2025 Board Members.

Center for Prevention of Abuse Receives 2024 Partner Award

Congratulations to the Center for Prevention of Abuse, the recipient of this year’s Jim and Katie Owens Partner Award.  For more than 40 years, this agency has supported our community with the knowledge and caring that domestic violence can affect all people, from all backgrounds, and that everyone deserves peace.

Partner Award
L-R, Center for Prevention of Abuse staff, Carol Merna, Jennifer Zammuto, and Sid Ruckriegel

Established as a rape crisis hotline in 1975, today, the Center for Prevention of Abuse provides housing and supportive services for victims of domestic violence and provides adult protective services for seniors 60 years and older and adults with disabilities who are experiencing some form of abuse.

The team at the Center for Prevention of Abuse provides violence prevention education to more than 40,000 students each year. Their educators help schools create safe, supportive, and secure learning environments through age-appropriate, evidence-based, and comprehensive curricula for pre-k through college ages.

They are the lead victim-service agency for the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force, providing leadership to more than 46 counties as the first federally granted, sanctioned, and trained provider of beds and services for both labor and sex trafficking victims south of Chicago.

This spring they hosted a multistate educational conference on childhood trauma that brought together therapists, counselors, educators, social workers, service providers, and stakeholders to shine a light on childhood trauma. Hundreds of attendees shared and explored best practices, innovative campaigns and technology, preventative efforts and measures, and survivor care in an effort to prevent and respond to childhood trauma.

In 2007, we created the United Way Partner Award that is presented annually to a United Way agency in recognition of their outstanding leadership, collaboration and engagement with the Heart of Illinois United Way.  In 2009, Jim and Katie Owens were presented with the Heart of Illinois United Way’s Philanthropist of the Year. Over the years, Jim and Katie have provided outstanding volunteer leadership to United Way and our partner agencies. They have served on our campaign cabinet, board of directors, and several committees. To recognize them for their tremendous support, the United Way Partner Award was renamed in their honor to be the Jim and Katie Owens Partner Award.

Congratulations to Sean and Crystal Garrett, 2024 Hoot Gibson Honorees

Since 1985, the Heart of Illinois United Way has recognized a volunteer who spends countless hours working without fanfare to help others. Our annual Hoot Gibson Award is presented in memory of Horace J. “Hoot” Gibson, Jr. who pursued his goals in a quiet, determined matter, caring little if others knew of his accomplishments. In addition to serving on our health committee and as board secretary, Hoot’s hard work helped the Heart of Illinois United Way transition our allocation process to address prioritized needs. His leadership is the basis of how we continue to fund vital needs today.

Our 2024 Hoot Gibson honorees, Sean and Crystal Garrett, have much in common with Hoot Gibson including their community volunteerism, focus on family, and support of the Heart of Illinois United Way.

2024 Hoot Gibson Award Recipients

In 2022, Sean founded Pierpont Ventures a commercial real estate investment company which owns and manages shopping centers, self-storage facilities, and multi-family properties in Illinois and the Southwest. Prior to starting Pierpont, Sean was an executive at Cullinan Properties where he was recruited to the Peoria area in 2011. His roles there involved leading the development of the Levee District and other national projects.

Upon arriving in Peoria, Sean responded to the Heart of Illinois United Way’s GENeration United call for volunteers and went on to co-chair the GEN U LEAD committee which planned and launched the BoardSERVE initiative. He has served on our Campaign Cabinet; and for the last several years, he has volunteered with United Way by serving on the Agency Audit Committee. He credits the United Way for helping him quickly develop pride and a connection to the Peoria area. Many of his friends were made through GenU, and some of his earliest dates with his now-wife, Crystal, were to GenU volunteer outings and fundraisers.

Since joining GEN U, Sean has been involved in many other volunteer organizations in the community and currently is a board member of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. He has served on the CEO Council, working tirelessly on various economic development initiatives for the area.

Crystal is the Global Program Manager for the Medium Wheel Loader Product Group at Caterpillar. She plays a key role in managing strategic initiatives, particularly in the areas of supplier resiliency and global footprint strategy. Her career at Caterpillar has given her the opportunity to travel across five continents and serve as an ambassador for the Peoria region.

Crystal also started her volunteer work with GENU, and her commitment to the community is reflected in her volunteer work for our Financial Stability Impact Area Grant Review Committee. Along with Sean, they serve on the Community Foundation of Central Illinois’ Emerging Philanthropist committee. Crystal is also actively involved with IMPACT Central Illinois, reviewing and awarding grants to local non-profits. Additionally, she volunteers at the TAPS animal shelter, where she looks for every opportunity she can find to snuggle a puppy.

Outside of work, Sean and Crystal enjoy chasing after their 18-month-old daughter, Elizabeth, who is constantly on the move. They also find joy in mountain biking and volunteering for causes they are passionate about, such as financial literacy, philanthropy, and animal welfare.

Thank You to Our Outgoing Board Members!

The Heart of Illinois United Way recently held our annual meeting for election of officers and board members. We also recognized our incredible outgoing board members for their support of the Heart of Illinois United Way.

  • Patti Bash has volunteered for the Heart of Illinois United Way for more than 20 years. She started her United Way journey as a fund distribution volunteer and was our lead campaign cabinet member for the Medical Division until 2024. Patti and her husband, Dr. Stephen Bash, chaired our 2003 Campaign and were honored as Philanthropists of the Year in 2013. Patti has also chaired our nominating committee and served on our Success By Six, Power of the Purse, and Home for All committees.

 

  • Retired as CEO and President of Federal Companies, Jeff Bogdan has volunteered for the Heart of Illinois United Way for more than a decade. While at Federal he organized their company-wide Day of Caring teams and supported our annual food drive. In addition to his board service, he has also served on our Health Impact grant committee and our Business Services Division for the campaign cabinet.

 

  • Robert Brandfass, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for OSF HealthCare is a past board chair for the Heart of Illinois United Way. Robert is a champion of the annual United Way campaign at OSF and has served on our campaign cabinet’s Legal Division. While he served as chair of our Home for All Continuum of Care in 2018, he was instrumental in garnering OSF’s support for establishing a comprehensive interim housing system for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the Peoria area through the Salvation Army and Dream Center.

 

  • Erik Christian, the Principal Consultant at HR Fit, has supported the United Way in many ways over the last twenty years including sharing his expertise for updating personnel policies. He’s been a member of our self-reliance, health, and family issue areas and served as Vice Chair of Community Investment in his role as Solution Council chair.

 

  • Shelli Dankoff is our outgoing Vice Chair of Marketing and Community Engagement. Always ready with an insight on dealing with local media and planning special events, she has championed our Community Impact Fund marketing efforts, volunteered for Power of the Purse, and has been our go-to emcee for special events including our 100th Anniversary Celebration. Under her leadership, the marketing committee has continued to expand our social media presence to focus on our initiatives such as 211 and community-based volunteering.

 

  • Paul Flynn has volunteered for the United Way for many years starting as a grant reviewer which he continued until last year. He has also served on our campaign cabinet taking a lead role in the labor division to encourage support from area union members. Paul has also chaired our building committee ensuring our United Way headquarters are maintained as befitting historical property. In 2020, he shared his time helping us convert a copy room and storage area into a beautiful media room we can use for video tapings and online meetings.

 

  • Brian Ray has volunteered for the Heart of Illinois United Way since relocating to our area as the Central Illinois Regional President of PNC Bank. He and his wife, Erica, have chaired our Tocqueville Society and our historic 100th Anniversary Campaign in 2021. Through his leadership, PNC continues their support of local preschool programs through the PNC Grow Up Great program and their support of our volunteer engagement efforts which enables us to expand the program to better serve our area nonprofits.

 

  • Sally Snyder is truly a champion of our work. She grew up supporting the Heart of Illinois United Way and continues to carry on her family’s legacy of not only founding our organization but volunteering for it across the generations. As she shared during our 100th anniversary celebration, Sally and her mom were part of the league of women who would go door-to-door raising funds for the United Fund before our modern-day workplace campaigns became prevalent. Her mother founded our first volunteer center in the 1940s; and her husband, Skip Snyder, chaired our annual campaign twice. He and Sally were friends with Hoot Gibson and helped establish the award we will present later this evening. Sally has volunteered recently for so many committees at United Way including nominating, strategic planning, leadership giving (including chairing the Tocqueville Society), Success By 6, and the health impact area.

Heart of Illinois United Way Community Assessment

Heart of Illinois United Way Community Assessment

The primary focus of the 2023 Heart of Illinois United Way Community Assessment is to improve the organization’s effectiveness in identifying, assessing and supporting key areas of social concern related to the education, financial stability and health of all people in central Illinois.

  • Researched and published every three years since 2005, the Heart of Illinois United Way Community Assessment evaluates issues and trends impacting the community through primary and secondary data.
  • The primary focus of the 2023 Heart of Illinois United Way Community Assessment is to improve the organization’s effectiveness in identifying, assessing, and supporting key areas of social concern.
  • The organization’s three impact areas – education, financial stability and health – are highly interdependent,
    as any one of the three areas ultimately impacts the other two areas.
  • The assessment is integral to the Heart of Illinois United Way’s data-driven process to prioritize and address community needs through program indicators and measurable outcomes.
  • The Heart of Illinois United Way then collaborates with partner agencies and a wide variety of community partners to address critical needs.

Click here to download the 2023 Assessment (PDF, 2.4 MB)
Click here to download PowerPoint of Assessment Highlights (PPT, 9MB)

COMMUNITY ASSESSMENT PREPARED BY:

  • Dr. Laurence G. Weinzimmer, Caterpillar Inc. Professor of Management, Bradley University, larryweinzimmer.com
  • Gina Edwards, VP Marketing and Community Engagement, Heart of Illinois United Way

Ron and Michelle Carrothers Named 2023 McCord Philanthropists of the Year

Congratulations to our 2023 McCord Philanthropists of the Year, Ron and Michelle Carrothers, who have been leadership donors and active volunteers for the Heart of Illinois United Way for more than 20 years. Michelle has served as an allocation volunteer, board member, Power of the Purse chair, and co-chair of the Campaign Cabinet’s medical division. Ron served on the Success By 6 committee and has volunteered for many of our United Way events and partner agencies.Ron and Michelle-Carrothers

In addition to their support of United Way, Michelle has served our community through 40 years of service at OSF and numerous other nonprofit boards. Ron, who is a retired teacher and basketball coach with more than 30 years of experience has always worked to give back to the community through his career and teaching.

“We feel extremely blessed to have been able to live and serve in the Peoria area these past 45 years. They want to thank all of you for your support of the United Way and pray that, together, we continue to touch and enrich people’s lives,” Carrothers said.

Established in 2007, the Heart of Illinois United Way’s Philanthropist of the Year award recognizes members of the Tocqueville Society who are committed to the health and well-being of central Illinois. The award honors individuals for their leadership, dedication, and inspiration – thereby creating a lasting impact on the quality of life in our community.

In 2018, the United Way renamed this annual award as the McCord Philanthropists of the Year to recognize the legacy of my parents, Michel and Kay McCord and to honor my family’s long-standing support of central Illinois.

 

Dr. Jon Neidy Honored with 2023 Hoot Gibson Award

Dr. Jon Neidy is the 2023 Hoot Gibson Award honoree for community volunteerism in support of the Heart of Illinois United Way.

Jon’s time with the HOI United Way began in 2006 with his service on a Fund Distribution Committee.  From developing outcome benchmarks, drafting applications and scoring rubrics, training partner agencies, and engaging follow HOIUW volunteers, Jon has been instrumental in the foundational work of the allocation process.  Jon’s commitment to HOIUW was elevated in 2022 as he joined the Solution Council and co-chairs the Education Impact Area.  In this role, Jon is currently leading a Fund Distribution Exploratory Committee to evaluate the HOIUW fund distribution process, determine if it sufficiently aligns with HOIUW strategic goals and objectives and community needs, and suggest improvements and/or process redesign as necessary.

(L-R) Board Chair Robert Gates, Dr. Jon Neidy, President Jennifer Zammuto
(L-R) Board Chair Robert Gates, Dr. Jon Neidy, President Jennifer Zammuto

Jon is a graduate of MacMurray College with Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a graduate of Bradley University with a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.  Education is one of Jon’s passions as he obtained his PH.D. in Higher Education Administration from Illinois State University.  Since 1998, Jon has had successful tenure with Bradley University holding various prestigious positions.  In October 2022, Jon accepted the position of VP of Student Success at Illinois Central College and to support students in all services, processes and systems at ICC; including outcomes assessment and improvement.

Jon’s approach to leadership and volunteering includes a profound belief in goal setting and the assessment of learning. He is adept at fostering a strong sense of community and presenting data in ways that help organizations change. He thinks of himself as a staff-engager, order-bringer, and experience-designer.  Jon not only shares his talents with United Way but has incorporated his strengths in community service work with Goodwill and Acorn Equality Fund – an LGBTQ+ scholarship and grant fund.

Most evident of Jon’s skills and talents is his ability to develop relationships with others.  Jon is a person you want in the room and on your team!  His active engagement, energy, and enthusiasm is having a lasting and positive impact on our community.

About the Hoot Gibson Award

Since 1985, the Heart of Illinois United Way has recognized a volunteer who spends countless hours working without fanfare to help others. Our annual Hoot Gibson Award is presented in memory of Horace J. “Hoot” Gibson, Jr. who pursued his goals in a quiet, determined matter, caring little if others knew of his accomplishments. In addition to serving on our health committee and as board secretary, Hoot’s hard work helped the Heart of Illinois United Way transition our allocation process to address prioritized needs. His leadership is the basis of how we continue to fund vital needs today.

Tenth Anniversary of 2-1-1

We celebrated with the Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois team at our Women United event on May 4, 2023.This year marks our 10th anniversary of our partnership with Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois to provide 2-1-1 to people in need. Each year, more than 10,000 calls to 2-1-1 connect people to critical services to help them lead stable lives. And during times of crisis, such as the tornado in 2013 and the first year of the recent pandemic, 2-1-1 has stepped up to help people connect with services and resources when they don’t know where to turn. We celebrated with the AMT team at our Women United event on May 4.

For more information on our Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 service, visit hoi211.org

Heart of Illinois United Way Celebrates 100th Community-Wide Campaign

Each year, hundreds of local companies and organizations participate in our annual campaign. In 2022, our historic 100th community-wide campaign raised $9,003,424!The Heart of Illinois United Way has proven time and again that we are built to support central Illinois in times like these. Through our Community Impact Fund, we are able to adapt to changing needs while providing a solid foundation of services year-round.

Each year, hundreds of local companies and organizations participate in our annual campaign. In 2022, there were eight new corporate gifts and 15 new employee campaigns; 19 corporate gifts increased by 10% or more and 36 organizations increased donations by 10% or more. Additionally, 12 of our 42 partner agencies increased their employee campaigns by 5% or more. In total, the 2022 Heart of Illinois United Way Campaign raised $9,003,424.

“To raise more than $9 million over the past year in a community the size of central Illinois is an incredible achievement. The Heart of Illinois United Way does not do this work alone. For a century, teams of nonprofits, volunteers, and donors have generously worked together to create sustainable impact on the education, financial stability, and health needs of central Illinois,” Dr. Keith Knepp, President of UnityPoint Health-Central Illinois and 2022 Campaign Chair, said.

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Women United Happier Hour on May 4, 2023 at Par-A-Dice Hotel, East Peoria

Thank you for everyone who joined us for our first Women United Happier Hour!

Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 2, 2024. We hope you’ll join us next year.

About the Event

Our Women United Happier Hour is a fun and relaxed evening to connect and volunteer! We hope you will join us next year for an appetizer buffet and cash bar, raffle, a volunteer fair for local agencies, and fun onsite volunteer opportunities … because research shows volunteering makes you happier!

For more information on the 2024 Women United Happier Hour, email Gina Edwards, VP of Marketing and Community Engagement, at .

Many thanks to our 2023 Underwriters and Sponsors:

Underwriters

Illinois Mutual

PNC

Sponsors

Teresa & Bernie Koch

Cullinan Properties, Ltd.

Davis & Campbell LLC

Photos from Our 2023 Women United Happier Hour

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