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CSS Benefits from Book Sale

TEUTOPOLIS — Teutopolis High School graduate Madison Magee saw her Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities project come to a close Wednesday but not before it left an imprint on her heart.

Magee presented Community Support Systems with a $2,600.45 check, which was a culmination of the proceeds from her book “Handprints.” The book includes 25 stories and drawings detailing the lives of CSS’s consumers who double as the book’s authors.

Some of the book’s authors were on hand at the presentation. Lori Poehler said for her contribution to the book she drew a lake, which is her favorite place to visit.


Rachel Zakutansky included her love of music into her drawing of a saxophone, piano and musical notes. She has the two instruments at home, and she was inspired to draw them because she learned to play them when she was young.

“I got piano lessons. It was whenever I was younger,” Zakutansky said.

Both Zakutansky and Poehler said they were happy to be at the presentation, and they both enjoyed signing copies of the book at its debut event in February.

In her time with the Effingham County CEO program, Magee said she sold between 150 and 200 books. She plans to donate the remaining books to CSS.

“I think what they intend to use them for is when they have newcomers come in or new families, (it’s) a piece to show here’s what we are all about. Here’s why you should feel confident about having your children here,” Magee said.

Magee described Wednesday’s check presentation as a sad ending to her CEO journey, but she said she was happy to see the impact the book has had on the lives of the CSS consumers. She said the increased amount of young volunteers at CSS is the biggest impact the book has made thus far.

Magee said working with the CSS community has always been one of her passions, and her volunteerism with the organization dates back to her grade school days.

“Back in grade school, I would skip out on my PE class because they had a program with people with special needs, and you could go work with them and do activities with them instead of PE, and I would have much rather done that,” Magee said.

Her early experiences with CSS through school prompted her to continue her volunteerism through summer when she would help out at camps, computer class and whatever else she could do.

With every volunteer experience, Magee said her passion for the CSS consumers grew. One of Magee’s CEO mentors, Ron Mietzner, said it was that passion that made her book a reality.

“Her passion in everything she does in her life is something that was attractive to me as a mentor, and we looked each other in the eye and said we’re going to do this, and we did,” Mietzner said.


Mietzner said among his many duties as Magee’s mentor, his favorite was being Magee’s cheerleader. Magee said Mietzner gave her the push she needed to get her project on paper.

“I think the thing Ron really did for me was give me confidence, so cheerleader was the perfect label,” Magee said.

CSS Executive Director Andy Kistler said Magee has always been a cheerleader herself for the CSS program. Kistler said it’s not every day that someone as young as Magee dedicates their time to volunteering with CSS.

“I think it’s really telling that she was touched early through this environment through school and things like that for people with a disability. Her being touched by them allowed us an opportunity to benefit from that. She just gave back,” Kistler said.

Kistler said it was incredibly heart-warming to see Magee interact with the consumers and to see Magee giving back to the program. He said Magee took an entrepreneurial opportunity and brought it to the level of philanthropy instead.

Now that one chapter in her life has closed, Magee said she will attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in the fall in pursuit of degrees in both business and psychology. Magee said that even though college will take her out of town, she hopes support for CSS continues.

“It shouldn’t stop here. I would like to see people still getting involved (and) still reaching out because I do think this is a program that deserves it, and the people working for it are really passionate about it,” Magee said. “I want other people to have that encouragement to make a difference in their lives because it’s made a huge difference in my life.”

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