2024 Do Something Great Award Recipients Announced

Awards honor residents making a difference in our community

Macon County – Seven area residents, one couple, and one organization have been named recipients of the 20th Annual Do Something Great awards. This annual awards program honors amazing individuals and organizations who have made a significant positive impact on Macon County through giving of their time, talent and/or treasure. The Heart of Illinois Community Foundation (HICF) has sponsored this program for the past 20 years. This year, awardees were honored in seven different categories. The 2024 recipients are listed below.

All awardees and their guests will be honored at a presentation luncheon held Tuesday, August 13. In honor of the 20th anniversary, all living former recipients will be invited to this year’s event. Media are encouraged to attend the awards ceremony.

For more information about the Do Something Great awards program, call Rachel Moran at 217.429.3000 or send an email to rmoran@heartofillinois.org. To view a list of past recipients, visit www.heartofillinois.org/award-recipients.

The 2024 Do Something Great Awards

Award for Excellence in Inclusion

Award honors a nonprofit organization/or individual at the frontier of advancing inclusion and working toward an equitable Macon County community. The nomination should include evidence demonstrating an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, to advancing diversity awareness within Macon County, and to serving as an advocate for the interests of underrepresented populations.

Johnette Mitchell, First Mid Bank & Trust VP, Treasury Management Relationship Manager

nominated by Steve Grohne, Partner, MCK CPAs & Advisors

Nominated for the positive community impact of her Winedown “Wednesdaze” event series for minority-owned businesses in Decatur. She also led First Mid’s outreach initiative to provide financial education and mentoring to those underserved in our community; and is now working with the Richland Community College’s EnRich program to create a financial education curriculum for young entrepreneurs.

Outstanding Young Philanthropist

Sophia Schwalbach, Account Manager, Beverage Team Lead at ADM, Founder of The Nick Project

nominated by Nicole DeLiberis, Millikin Director of Campus Life

Nominated for her annual Millikin campus initiative created in memory of her late brother, Nick Schwalbach who died during a fraternity house fire in 2000. Sophia started “The Nick Project” in 2015, an event where students receive free fire ladders, carbon dioxide detectors and fire extinguishers.

Outstanding Volunteer/Board Member – 2 recipients

Chris Ellis, attorney and managing partner Bolen Robinson & Ellis, LLP, board member Old Kings Orchard Community Center

nominated by Lucy Smith, community philanthropist and board member, Old Kings Orchard Community Center

Nominated for his commitment as a volunteer to OKO. Chris has assisted with strengthening organizational infrastructure, increasing grant funding, and community outreach as a board volunteer.

Joe Roundtree, volunteer coordinator, AMELCA weekly food pantry

nominated by Wayne Banfield, AMELCA

Nominated for volunteer commitment to organizing and working at the AMELCA weekly food pantry. Joe has filled many volunteer roles for the pantry for over 25 years.

Outstanding Professional Partner – 2 recipients

Decatur Earthmover Credit Union

nominated by Darsonya Switzer, DOVE CEO and Heart of Illinois Community Foundation

Nominated for their commitment to the community through annual adoption of an area “DECU nonprofit of the year” and this year’s Moving Forward $1 million collaboration with HICF. Each year DECU selects a nonprofit to support via fundraisers, with their 2024 efforts benefiting DOVE. Previous charities of the year: Boys & Girls Club of Decatur, Project Read Plus, The Good Samaritan Inn, Macon Resources, Inc., Macon County CASA, Pawprint Ministries, Child 1st Center, Baby Talk, Dove, Inc. and Homeward Bound Pet Shelter.

Teri Hammel, Executive Director, Decatur Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

nominated by Jerry Johnson, Decatur Area Arts Council Executive Director

Nominated for her efforts to renovate the Transfer House in 2020-21 by working with diverse donors of financial, material, and labor support. Teri also arranges the annual holiday lights to brighten downtown Decatur and Santa Claus' residency in the Transfer House during the season. Through the advocacy of Teri and the DACVB, power boat races returned to Decatur's lake in 2024. The financial support of the DACVB for local organizations, such as the Lincoln Square Theatre, Devon Amphitheater, Downtown Decatur Music Festival, and Decatur Area Arts Council, enables them to offer diverse programs that make Decatur a more vibrant place and attract people to visit our community.

Outstanding Philanthropic Support of the Arts

Dr. Christina Shields, Director of Memory Keeper’s Chorus

nominated by Danielle Diskey, Director of Development & Marketing, Decatur Family YMCA

Dr. Christina Shields has dedicated her life to music - singing, teaching, and conducting. Through her doctoral education in Music Therapy and her personal experience with dementia/Alzheimer's Disease in her own family, she developed a passion for the long-term positive effects that music, and the community created through choral music, can have on persons living with memory loss, as well as their loved ones and caregivers. Memory Keeper's Chorus is the culmination of years of work, planning, preparation, and commitment to supporting this underserved community - providing purpose, socialization, and a place to belong.

Memory Keeper's Chorus was born through a partnership with Dr. Shield's organization, Caring Choirs of Central Illinois, and Decatur Family YMCA. Dr. Shield's expertise and mission combined with the infrastructure and mission of the YMCA have created a meaningful, purpose-driven program that supports persons living with all forms of memory loss in our community - whether from dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, traumatic brain injury, or other causes. When the first session began in September of 2023, there were 17 participants in the chorus. Today they have 34 active singers, which includes those with memory loss, their family members and caregivers, and volunteers. They currently have 2 senior living facilities (Carriage Crossing and Eagle Ridge) that provide transportation for their residents to participate.

Ray Batman Nonprofit Professional of the Year Award

Jerry Culp, Executive Director of the Macon County Conservation District

nominated by Gussie Reed, MCCD board member

Became Macon County Conservation District’s new director in 2021. For over 25 years, Jerry has been involved in preserving and maintaining open space and natural areas. Throughout his career he has been involved with the acquisition and improvement of over 10,000 acres of land. Jerry has been instrumental in securing monumental grant funding for MCCD– including a 2022 $2.9 million grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to add 236 acres to Fort Daniel Conservation Area; a 2023 grant of $870,750 from the IDNR to construct an indoor-outdoor classroom in the lower level of the Rock Springs Nature Center, a $300,000 grant in 2023 and a $600,000 grant in 2024 from the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant program. Also under Jerry’s leadership, conservation services have been expanded with the city bus route connecting downtown Decatur to Rock Springs, upgrades to bike trails and constructing three wetlands.

Robert and Bev Ketenbrink Community Commitment Award

John and Susie Skeffington, community supporters

nominated by Millikin University

Millikin University is pleased to nominate John and Susie Skeffington. John serves Millikin University on its Board of Trustees and is immediate past Chair of the Board.

With the growth of Skeff Distributing over the years, John Skeffington’s company has become a sizable and stable local employer. There is scarcely a community nonprofit organization or significant community effort that has not been significantly boosted by John with his wife Susie, or, under his direction, by the involvement of Skeff Distributing. The WSOY Food Drive, the Decatur Celebration, SummerStart, the Futures Golf tournament, and many other past community events relied upon John, his family and his company for support and promotion. He has led and participated on several community bank, business and nonprofit boards alike as well as other faith-based, county and city, and social organizations including, notably, the Decatur City Council and the Economic Development Corporation. In addition, he coached youth sports for many years. He has also lent his expertise to the community through other volunteer roles, for example by serving as a SCORE counselor. The depth and breadth of his service roles are evidence that John prioritizes serving his community in any and every way he can.

Susie volunteered with Race for the Cure, chairing the 2014 event. She also volunteered with the American Heart Association and Catholic Charities of Decatur.

The presence of John and Susie Skeffington, and Skeff Distributing, have been visible mainstays at major community celebrations, charitable events, adult sporting events, and recreational events for many decades. As described above, they have served nonprofit, commercial and civic organizations alike and have networked extensively, engaging with and encouraging like-minded citizens in a myriad of ways to boost and promote this community. It is well-known in the community that Skeff Distributing promotes employee engagement in all manners of civic and nonprofit endeavors as well, and this is evidence of a top-down commitment.

The following Millikin projects have been supported by John and Susie Skeffington, or by Skeff Distributing, over recent years: Millikin Fund, Big Blue Club, TIPS Program, CAPP Fund, Men’s and Women’s Golf teams, Big Blue Golf outing (major sponsor), and more.