1,000 Flags honor our Veterans in Field of Honor

Quincy Exchange Club lets flags fly on Field of Honor

By MATT HOPF

Herald-Whig Staff WriterDSC_0599

The sound of metal stakes being driven into the ground could be heard Friday afternoon on Locust Street in front of the Illinois Veterans Home as members of the Quincy Exchange Club prepared to plant a field of red, white and blue in honor of people who served.

As stakes were set, a 4-by-3-foot flag on a 7-foot pole was placed on one stake, then another, then another, and the field gradually filled up with flags flapping in Friday’s steady breeze.

With 25 rows and 40 flags in each, 1,000 flags now adorn the large field. They’ll fly through Tuesday’s Veterans Day program at the Vets Home.

The Exchange Club launched its Flags of Honor program as a way to place rented flags in front of businesses and homes on national holidays. The club is using the flags first for the Field of Honor at the Vets Home to honor veterans for Veteran’s Day.

An opening ceremony is planed Saturday after the conclusion of the Veterans Day parade in downtown Quincy.

Art Awerkamp, chairman of the Flags of Honor program committee, said it’s a great way to promote Americanism, one of the Exchange Club’s four programs of service.

“We’ll let the kids see them, the veterans see them, and try to promote what the flag stands for,” Awerkamp said.

He said support for the program has been overwhelming.

“It was an easy ask,” he said. “People said, ‘No problem, we’ll help you out.”

Exchange Club members will be on the field from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day the flags are displayed. There will be security on site at night, and the field will be lighted.

Renting the flags out to businesses and residents for national holidays will be a way for the Exchange Club to continue supporting the Field of Honor each year.

For $30, the flag will be placed in front of stores, offices and homes for Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Flags would be placed in the front yard at dawn and picked up at dusk.

Awerkamp said the idea came from his brother, who lives in Texas, where a similar program is run.

“We’d love to see whole neighborhoods to work together to get flags in every one of their yards,” Awerkamp said.

For more information on the flag program, visit quincyexchangeclub.org. Exchange Club members on hand at the Field of Honor will also answer questions about the program.

— mhopf@whig.com/221-3391

Richard Kestner Named Fire Fighter of the Year

Kestner FFotYrBy DON O’BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A man who has advanced through the ranks of the Tri-Township Fire Department for last 20 years was honored Friday as the Quincy Exchange Club’s Firefighter of the Year.

Richard Kestner, who started with the department as a volunteer in 1994, is now a lieutenant for the department, which serves Riverside, Ellington and Melrose townships. He oversees one of the three shifts, investigates fires and has been a hazardous materials officer since 2007. He also uses his skills as a handyman to help the department in various ways.

“He is a very vital cog in our operation out there,” Tri-Township Fire Chief Rick Zaerr said. “We are a very small department, so we can’t afford to have too many clunkers. Everyone has to pull their weight, and he definitely pulls more than his share. He is a really good asset. I don’t know what we’d do without him sometimes.”

Kestner, 48, was on vacation and did not attend Friday’s presentation. The department had a ceremony for him before he left to let him know that he was the winner of the award, which is given by the Exchange Club every October to either a member of the Tri-Township or Quincy fire departments.

Zaerr jokingly said Kestner probably wouldn’t have said much to the crowd.

“He spoke for as long as we’ve ever seen the other day,” Zaerr said with a laugh as he accepted the award for Kestner during the meeting. “He spoke for a minute, maybe a minute and a half, which is a long speech for him.”

Zaerr said Kestner’s award is one that the entire department can share in.

“We look at this as recognition for the whole fire service,” Zaerr said.

Kestner was one of two people to be honored. Brother Ed Arambasich, chaplain for the Quincy Fire Department, was awarded as the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. Arambasich has been the Quincy Fire Department’s chaplain since 2003

Terra Scranton of QHS named recipient of the Youth of the Year Scholarship

Youth of the Year 2014

QHS Principal Danielle Edgar and Counselor Mindy Jackson, Terra Scranton and her parents Rick and Pam Thurman (left to right)

Dr. Lenny Biallas of the Exchange Club of Quincy presented the 24th Annual Youth of the Year Award to Terra Scranton of Quincy Senior High School.
Terra wrote the winning essay, based on the National Exchange Club’s theme – Parading the Spirit of Community Service with Passion and Commitment – to win the award and as a result she will get a $1,000 scholarship and will represent our Club in the District competition. Terra plans on attending the University of Illinois at Champaign and eventually will attend medical school. Her parents, Rick and Pam Thurman, were on hand along with QHS Principal Danielle Edger and Counselor Mindy Jackson.

Here is Terra’s winning essay:

The difference between commitment and requirement is one that few people learn in their lifetime. They tell themselves that they are committed to an activity when, in all actuality, they are simply doing it to meet their service hour requirements or avoid reprimand by family and friends. In order to be truly com mitted to something, you must have pride in it and do it not because you feel as though you have to do it, but because you want to do it. The passion exhibited will shine through in work completed and will be felt by those impacted through good deeds done. Dedicating yourself to the service of others, whether it is with donations of food and supplies, spiritual guidance, or simply your time and energy, creates a lasting impact that strengthens families, com m unities, and our country as a whole. That spirit should be everlasting and never forgotten.

No matter where you go, you can always lend a hand to those in need. It doesn’t matter whether or not you belong to a community or family; the potential you have to change lives is constant. I can recall becoming a part of the community service organizations at my school. Beta Club, National Honor Society, and Key Club became a reminder to me that our community is a struggling one. I wasn’t aware of this because I wasn’t exposed to it directly. Prior to high school, each canned food drive and fundraiser was made to be a game. The class who donates or collects the most wins a party of some sort. It didn’t matter to us children for what we were raising money and collecting supplies. Now, I realize the lasting effect that these collections can have and that needs to be taught to younger children in order to create a sense of community within them. They don’t understand the difference that they’re making and the potential they have to change a life. I have learned that these drives benefit people I know and that knowledge creates pride in what I do to help a classmate or fellow community member. I have that sense of responsibility to better someone else’s life, who isn’t necessarily a stranger. Younger children need to know that they have the potential to change a life for the better in order to develop pride and think of community service as something other than a game.

Community service isn’t just giving away money and food, however. It could be something as simple as playing a game with a child when al l they’re going to do is wait after school for an hour because both of their parents work full-time or aren’t completely present in their life. It could be visiting an elderly person who lives alone and has no immediate family to visit them frequently. Community service is anything that works to make a difference in someone else’s life. Anyone can give themselves to another person, family, or group in order to better their education, health, or circumstance. It takes drive within a person to make it a common occurrence. Loving the service that one does will make it easy for activities to remain consistent. In programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, it is important to return each week in order to maintain a close relationship with a child being assisted by the program. By demonstrating dedication through reliability, you can influence other people. They will want to be more dedicated as well and those people that you are directly helping will feel as though they truly matter to you, which increases self-confidence and life outlook, especially in small children.

It is of utmost importance that youth prevent ion takes place in our community and this country as a whole. With toxic environments everywhere, children can fall prey to gang activity, drugs, and crime because they want to feel like they belong to a group. Pre-teens and young adults need to step up and form bonds with children and their peers in a positive manner so that a life isn’t damaged due to destructive relationships and activities. If only a few people would reach out to their peers and assist them with their family, school, and social lives, we could become a more educated, safe, and happy community. Getting involved with children can aid their families as well. By exposing the youth to cooperation, communication, and other beneficial techniques, they can pass on what they learn to their families, which can strengthen bonds and alleviate conflict. Strong families make for strong com munities.

Those who are helped and see the passion exhibited towards them are more likely to give the same amount of effort into their works in the future. It is a cycle that, once started, should continue building and restoring com m unities and families across the nation through physical, spiritual, and emotional support.

Building families and com munities allow for a stronger country. To continue the ideals of democracy and freedom, adults and youth alike must know that they are available. This is why people need to promote education and political involvement. Spreading passion about the many choices that we have in this country is important because we will always need future leaders to govern it. If they know and feel as though they have the same rights and oppo1tunities as everyone else, provided that they work to their fullest potential, they will be more likely to involve themselves in large and small governments, nationally and locally. A knowledgeable community is a strong one, where diverse opinions are put forth and no one is oppressed due to gender, race, or religion. By demonstrating this idea of freedom for any type of person, we can create a more balanced system that everyone can flourish in. Not all forms of community service require physical items; simply presenting ideals to others can benefit the community and country as a whole.

Passion runs the world. No matter how small an effort may seem the effects can be tremendous and continuous. By keeping a determined and helpful spirit maintained, one person can affect families and communities across the country with the spread of goods, ideals, and contagious passion. A community service commitment is not something to be forced, but to be desired and strived for in the heart of each person.

Kennedy Magee of QND named recipient of Bud Willer A.C.E. Award

The Exchange Club of Quincy, Illinois is proud to announce the recipient of the 2014 of the Bud Willer A.C.E. Scholarship Award winner. A.C.E. is a National Exchange Club Program which stands for Accepting the Challenge of Excellence. This program recognizes high school students who have made a dramatic change in their attitude and performance during their high school years. These changes have enabled the students to overcome adversities and prepare for graduation. Locally, the award is named after former club member Bud Willer who, after playing football in the 1940’s at the University of Iowa, came back to Quincy and began working at the Department of Rehabilitation.

Kennedy Magee ACE

Quincy Exchange Club Youth Chairman, John Johannes, QND Principal Mark McDowell, Kennedy Magee and her parents (left to right)

After seeing some of his students overcome adversity he brought the idea to the club and it has been an annual award presentation every year since the early
1970’s. John Johannes had the honors of introducing Mark McDowell, Principal of Quincy Notre Dame High School at a luncheon on May 16. Mr. McDowell then introduced this year’s winner Kennedy Magee. Kennedy transferred to this area and QND just before her senior year which is traumatic in of itself but she did so with a hearing impairment called Microtia which has left her without the ability to hear in one ear. She did not let that affect her in that she participated in athletics at QND and made the honor roll as well. She also had a 26 on her ACT and is planning on attending MacMurray College. By winning the award, Kennedy will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the Quincy Exchange Club and is now eligible to receive a $2,500 scholarship in the Lincolnland Exchange Club Foundation for Youth competition and perhaps a $10,000 scholarship from the National Exchange Club Foundation.

62nd Book of Golden Deeds Awarded to Patti Adam

Adam’s passion for Birthright’s cause earns her Golden Deeds Award

Posted Quincy Herald-Whig: May 03, 2014 5:25 PM CDT Updated: May 03, 2014 10:23 PM CDT

Patti Adam Book of Golden Deeds

Patty Adam, left, reacts as she receives a standing ovation after finding out she is Golden Deeds Award winner during a ceremony last month at Quincy University. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)

By STEVE EIGHINGER

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Looking back, Patty Adam realizes a specific point in her life ultimately helped direct her future.

She explained that it was a dark period, and she admitted to weighing all the possible options concerning her own pregnancy. More than anything, however, Adam simply needed someone to talk with, to listen to her.

Her options were limited, at best. Grass-roots pro-life organizations were few and far between.

Ultimately, Adam made the decision to keep her baby.

Not long afterward, she also made another decision that would affect the rest of her life — and numerous others — in an incredibly positive fashion.

She began volunteering at a fledgling pro-life organization named Birthright.

Thirty-four years later, including two stints as executive director, Adam is still there.

She also is the 62nd winner of the Golden Deeds Award. Adam’s work with Birthright will be celebrated at a May 9 luncheon during the weekly meeting of the Exchange Club, a local service organization that sponsors the award.

“Everyone of our first 61 recipients has made an tremendous impact in our community by their selfless service and indeed touched the lives of those who live here,” Rick Gengenbacher, a member of the Exchange Club’s selection committee, said. “Patty Adam has upped the ante. Her golden deeds have literally ensured life in our community. That’s pretty powerful, and we are honored to add her to our list of recipients.”

The Golden Deeds Award honors a resident who is a selfless volunteer and/or has worked tirelessly on behalf of the community. More often than not, that help comes behind the scenes, far from the limelight.

Adam fills all of those criteria — and then some.

“I believe God called me to this,” she said. “I just want the girls and women to hear all of the available options. They need to know there is someone they can trust, someone who has no ulterior motive, someone who is there to help.”

The passion that has driven Adam is to help, not judge. Birthright’s emergency phone number is her own personal cellphone. She walks the walk as well as talks the talk.

“I have known Patty for almost 20 years and have watched her raise a loving and dedicated family,” said Monsignor Mike Kuse, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church where Adam attends. “Her life, like all of us, has enjoyed many ups and downs. She has survived extremely well.

“Her interest in people speaks of her enthusiasm to live her faith. She will go anywhere anytime to assist any person in need of guidance or attention.”

Birthright is free and confidential. Its function is to help girls and women facing an unexpected pregnancy crisis to make good and informed decisions by offering friendship and a listening ear.

Adam, now 64 and the mother of seven adult children, is as passionate about the Birthright cause as she was more than 30 years ago.

“For me, it is hard to explain … but to just see how God works these miracles is the most gratifying thing,” she said.

While many of the clients Birthright deals with come from situations tied to some form of abuse, many others do not. Some are everyday housewives who have found themselves in an unexpected pregnancy.

“What we try to emphasize is how big of a decision something like this is. Don’t be in a big hurry to make it,” she said.

Adam works with more than 25 Birthright volunteers.

“All of the (volunteers) believe that Patty is Birthright’s ‘angel,’ sharing love and caring with all clients,” said Connie McDowell, a Birthright volunteer. “Some have said Patty will have to live forever, inasmuch as no one will be capable of filling her place.”

Adam assures Birthright will always be a part of her life in some form.

“As long as God gives the grace and desire, I will keep doing this,” she said.

seighinger@whig.com/221-3377

24th Macker to Feature Registered Officials on Every Court

By DON O’BRIEN Herald-Whig Staff Writer

An attempt to breathe life into the annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament, local organizers are doing something a little different with this year’s event.

The 24th annual event, which will be played in downtown Quincy on Memorial Day weekend, will feature registered, uniformed officials on every court. In past years volunteer officials called “GusBusters” were used on every court except the top men’s and top women’s divisions.

Tournament officials hope using “real” referees will help clean up rough play that often is associated with the tournament and help bring in more teams to the event, which is run by the Quincy Exchange Club.

“We’ve been seeing (participation) numbers go down a little bit, and we listened to feedback from people,” said Perry Terwelp, co-chairman of this year’s tournament. “The feedback that we’ve been getting is that it’s too rough.”

Scott McNeal, who founded Gus Macker, says the Quincy event is taking a significant step by hiring officials.

“This is a big move,” McNeal said. “I don’t know if you want to go as far as saying it’s a save-the-Macker type of thing, but it’s a big move and something that is the next step in the historical evolution of this event in Quincy.”

The event will pull in officials from around the region to work. Officials will be paid $10 a game. In past years, the Exchange Club has enticed people to work the tournament by offering them $25 per day to officiate with an extra $25 bonus if the person worked both days of the tournament. Terwelp said it will cost the Exchange Club approximately $3,100 more this year to run the event by using officials on each court.

“This is a way of getting the event to rejuvenate itself with team counts and maybe bring back people who haven’t played in a while,” McNeal said. “This is an attempt by the club to follow something we’ve been doing in Michigan and some of our other veteran sites. Instead of having GusBusters or court monitors, now we’re putting registered officials on courts calling all of the fouls and violations.”

During its run, the Quincy event has been one of the most popular Gus Macker events in the country. However, team counts have been dwindling in recent years. After reaching a high of 1,378 teams in 1997, the number of teams dropped to 411 for the 2013 event. That was still the fourth-highest team count of all Mackers that were played last year. The event brought in 1,644 players and 12,000 spectators watched the event, according to statistics released by Gus Macker.

Terwelp said the Exchange Club would like to get 500 teams signed up for this year’s tournament. McNeal said just over half of the Macker tournaments that his group runs nationwide will use officials this year. He said other tournaments that have changed from GusBusters to officials have seen an increase in participation numbers.

“We’ve seen an upswing in our tournaments in Michigan by doing it,” he said. “We’ve seen cities that didn’t do tournaments any more who came back and part of the reason was because they could do officials and not worry about the GusBusters system.

“When you come to an event that is officiated, it takes the pressure off the local organizers to recruit, train and find enough bodies to run a GusBuster style tournament. Using officials makes the game much more controlled and structured. There is just a different air about it.”

 

— dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

Illinois State Trooper honored as 48th Law Officer of the Year

ISP Trooper Brad WIlliams

Illinois State Police Trooper Brad Williams

By DON O’BRIEN
Quincy Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Growing up, Brad Williams thought all police did was run around and capture bad guys via high-speed chases.

As he has found out since joining the Illinois State Police, the job is very different from what is portrayed on TV and in movies. High-speed chases are few and far between. But when the time called for Williams to be involved in one of those high-speed chases, he was ready.

On April 24, Williams was getting ready to work the day shift as a trooper in the Pittsfield-based District 20. He caught word that a mass murder had taken place in tiny Manchester in Scott County. Five people had been shot to death and the shooter was on loose. The shooter was considered armed and dangerous. Williams, who works his patrol on a motorcycle, jumped on his bike and took off toward the murder scene. He had been using the bike since September 2012 when he became the district’s first motorcycle patrol officer in 14 years.

“I don’t know it helped, but I don’t think it hurt though either,” Williams said of being on the bike. “I just used it to go down the back roads and got lucky and found him. It was total luck.”

Williams crossed paths with Rick O. Smith, 43, on a back road in Morgan County. Williams pulled up behind Smith, but Smith continued to elude him. The chase eventually went into Winchester. Just east of Winchester, officers were able to immobilize Smith’s vehicle. Smith got out of his vehicle with shotgun in hand and fired a round at a Winchester officer. Williams then hopped off his motorcycle and shot at Smith, killing him.

Quincy Police Department Deputy Chief Curt Kelty recounted the scene Friday at the Quincy Exchange Club’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award luncheon.

“He had to do what he had to do without any regard to his own safety,” Kelty said.

For his efforts that day, Williams was named the winner of the Exchange Club’s annual award.

“I’m very honored,” Williams said. “(The award) goes to everybody that was involved. I was just a small piece to the puzzle. There was a lot that went on afterward, too. That’s why the bosses had to do a lot more paperwork than I did.”

Five people from ages 1 through 65 died that day; the lone survivor was a 6-year-old girl.

“I think about (the day) all the time,” Williams said. “I think about the one survivor. She is the real hero in all of this. Her life changed more than any of ours did through all of this that morning. I hear she is doing well.”

Williams has been with the State Police since June 2007.

This is the 48th annual award issued by the Exchange Club since it started doing so in 1967. The Exchange Club also honored its Citizen of the Year. Mayor Kyle Moore recognized Pam Shaffer for her long tenure with the American Red Cross. She recently retired after 34 years of service with the organization.

“We couldn’t do this without the help of more than 400 volunteers, they are the ones that I’m accepting this award for,” Shaffer said.

Copyright Quincy Herald Whig 2014

Give-a-Kid-a-Chance Christmas Dinner draws over 100

Thanks to Charlie Ledbetter and his helpers in putting on The Give a Kid a Chance Dinner and visit with Santa held Friday, December 6 at the Senior Citizen’s Center.   More than 100 foster children and their foster familes had a great dinner and a wonderful time getting gifts from “The Claus”.  This is one great Christmas event that the Club puts on and if you were there you could see it in the eyes of the kids and their families. Some of these kids have next to nothing and the presents were nice, but for many the meal they got was something they hardly ever get.  Thanks to all who helped.

Here are some pictures from this year’s dinner:

Club Hosts QPS Hearing Impaired Program’s Christmas

It was another wonderful meeting featuring the hearing impaired students from the Quincy Public School System and Santa.  Former member Bob Moss was instrumental in
putting the program on for years and the Club has continued the tradition. The Exchange Club presented Katie Stegner, the organizer of today’s event, a check for $900 to be used for the hearing impaired program in the Quincy Public School System. After the kids put on their wonderful Christmas play for the Club to enjoy, Santa Clause, made his usual appearance with his usual “Don Rickles” type commentary for the membership.  Then it was time for Santa to interact with the kids as he gave each child a gift. These gifts were for the good kids and not for the members who just didn’t seem to have their names on the good list for some reason.

Here are some pictures from this year’s program

Walk to End Alzheimers subject of this week’s program

The Annual Walk to End Alzheimers is set for September 5th at Clat Adams Park and Jamie Foster of the Alzheimer’s Association will have all the details for us at Friday’s meeting. Remember, the Club is getting a “walking” team together for this event.

Travis Brown is still looking for walkers for the Exchange Club’s Walking Team for the upcoming Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimers on September 5th at 5pm. That event will be held with walkers going from Clat Adams Park to The Dock and back.  Contact Travis at (217) 228-8696 if you are interested.