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Working together, rising above

For 77 years, the Chamber of Commerce of Southwestern Madison County has taken time out of the hustle and bustle of its daily responsibilities to recognize and honor those community leaders that help keep this area alive.

On Oct. 26, the annual What’s Right, Right Here event was held at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, where drinks flowed, a tasty dinner was experienced, and recognition was given to a few of the people and organizations that work each day to point to a bright future ahead for the Granite City area.

The Chamber of Commerce 2017 Community Service Award was given to the city of Madison’s Volunteer Fire Department for its efforts above and beyond even the normal duties of first responders.

Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, volunteer firefighter Lt. David “Moon” Brooks met with Madison Mayor Jon Hamm with the idea to collect supplies to drive to Texas. While Brooks was hoping for enough to fill a 32-foot trailer, the help he received from the rest of the department, including Andrew Barrett, Dustin Becker, Aaron Bloomquist, Alex Hamm, Michael Reeter, Denny Riggs, and Michael Scannell, helped fill three trailers with water, food, clothing and other supplies so desperately needed.

Ron and Debbie Rodgers of Rodgers Trucking volunteered one of the company’s trailers and also drove it themselves to Texas.

“This has been an amazing thing to witness,” Mayor Jon Hamm said. “I’m so very proud of our area.”

The event’s Shine the Light Business award went to Randall and Linda Irwin of Irwin Chapel. The funeral home opened in 1978 and today has three branches. The award was presented to the couple, who have invested both financially and with their time in the Granite City community for decades.

“I want to thank the people who have put their trust in us through the years,” Randall Irwin said. “Irwin Chapel, Linda and I, and the staff of Irwin Chapel would not be here without that trust.”

The Granite City Optimist Club received the Shine the Light Organization award.

“The Optimist Club has been an intricate part and a generous supporter of our community for the past 88 years,” award presenter Jeff Kohler said. “They have the honor of being the third-oldest club in the state of Illinois.”

Recipients of the Sine the Light Organizations nominations included the Knights of Columbus, the Granite City CEO Program entrepreneurial education project for young people, St. Elizabeth Parish, the Granite City Park District and Tri-Cities Council No. 10.

Individuals recognized this year included Andrew “Andy” Economy for his service over the years as Madison alderman, precinct committeeman, police commissioner, president of both the Metro East Sanitary District and the Madison Lions Club, owner of Andy’s Auto Body, and many other service arenas for the community.

Economy and his wife also host an annual Halloween party, with all proceeds going to local charities. Economy received this year’s Shine the Light Individual award.

Tina Besserman was recognized for, among many other accomplishments, her work with Granite City’s CEO program, Optimist and Rotary clubs.

“I believe if I can help just one person, they will return the favor and we will continue to build a great community,” the lifelong Granite City resident said.

For many years, Willard Bloodworth has helped to beautify Pontoon Beach, removing trash, pulling weeds, clearing trees, and cutting the grass in many locations along Illinois 111.

“I like things to look nice when people come into my town,” Bloodworth told Southwest Madison County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rosemarie Brown during an interview previous to accepting his nominee award. “When IDOT can only afford to cut the grass once or twice a year, and when it starts looking bad, I just take my tractor out.”

For more than 60 years, Jack Dempsey was owner of Granite City Glass and Dempsey Adams Auto Body, and also served as past president of the Chamber of Commerce. Dempsey was recognized in part for his work with the Shriners, including a stint as chairman of the board with the St. Louis Shriners Hospital.

Described as a true “worker bee” and “working machine,” Paul Hellrich was recognized for his work as president of the Optimist Club and countless other volunteer efforts, while Carolyn Jenkins received a nomination for more than 50 years dedicated to bringing the arts to the community through musicals and community choirs, entertaining thousands of people throughout the years.

Lifelong Granite City resident and Holy Family Catholic School Principal Margaret Holland Pennell received a nomination for her decades of work in the fields of education and community theater as well as volunteer efforts with the Red Cross and the American Cancer Society.

The evening drew to a close with a special tribute to Joseph Glik, the 2017 Citizen of the Year. The 91-year-old patriarch of the Glik family continues to oversee the Glik’s chain of stores, maintaining its headquarters in Granite City while expanding to more than 60 stores across 10 states, the 14th-oldest multistore retailer in the nation.

Glik’s award was introduced by Conrad “Babe” Champion, the 2016 recipient of the Citizen of the Year award, Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) and a representative from U.S. Rep. Mike Bost’s office.

In addition to the family business, Glik has served as chairman and Board of Directors president of the Tri-Cities United Way, on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, and on the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Foundation. He has received the Distinguished Business Alumni Award from the Washington University School of Business, the St. Elizabeth Center’s De La Roche Award and the Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Balance Award.

He also built a community park in Edwardsville and Highland, and organized funds for breast cancer screenings for the indigent.

“This is a wonderful community, and I can’t believe the warmth I still feel when I get out on the floor and talk to the customers,” Glik said. “My kids are running the show now, and they plan to open five stores a year, so we will just keep going. Thank you for everything.”

To celebrate Glik’s life as well as his family’s commitment to Granite City and surrounding areas on the company’s 120-year anniversary, the chamber presented him with the Citizen of the Year award. A giant cake with the Glik’s logo also was wheeled out during the presentation, surprising the entire Glik family in attendance.

In what has become a tradition with the event, there was a live and a silent auction as well as other raffles and giveaways.

Shine the Light awards and nominations are voted on each year by the community. For more information on how to get involved, visit the chamber’s website.

Source:AdVantage News

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