Stephanie Kessler, Executive Director of Illinois Valley Industries, was on “People Are Talking” a week or so ago and I heard her say:
“Peers ask me for a template for how to replicate our programs in their communities. I reply, ‘Well...I can…but the reason IVI’s programs are so successful is because they happen HERE. It’s the community of Grundy County that makes us successful. I can’t promise that our programs will be successful elsewhere because those places aren’t HERE.’”
Similarly, when Paul “Barry” Nelson was Chairman of the Grundy County Board, he made a similar observation – that the Grundy County Home was a quality facility because it’s the daughters and daughter-in-laws who are the watchdogs. Every time they visited, they not only checked on their loved one, but they also checked on others, including total strangers, and were not afraid to speak up when they saw something amiss. Because the Grundy County Home was HERE, the residents were treated well and staff was kept on their toes.
Not every community can say this, and for this we are thankful.
So much good happens in Grundy County because of the residents who dig in to make good things happen without waiting for others or the government to step in. Examples:
• Illinois Valley Industries began in the basement of the First Baptist Church in the late 60s (I was just a kid but I remember it well!)
• The backpack programs in Morris, Coal City, and Minooka
• The newly-expanded playground in Coal City designed for people with disabilities, including those on the Autism spectrum
• Goose Lake Prairie Partners
• Cruise Night
• 3 French Hens
• Liberty Arts Festival
• Corn Festival
• Scout Packs and Troops
• Help for Hope
• Loving Deeds for Kids in Need
• Team Let’s Make a Difference
• Chanooka Wish
• Friends of the Librar(ies)
• TEACH Outdoors
• Food pantries at area churches
• Just Animals and All Those Left behind animal shelters
• Shirley Kiss starting We Care 40 years ago
• Operation St. Nick
• Recent clean-up of the algae in the canal after prompting by the Young Philanthropists at MCHS
• The new bike rentals along the canal
• Grundy County Historial Society
• Morris Theater Guild
• Grundy Community Volunteer Hospice
• Morris Hospital volunteers, including transportation drivers
Please understand this is in NO WAY a complete list…just a handful of grassroots organizations and programs that popped into my head as I typed.
Grundy County is successful because of the people HERE. Our residents are not afraid to pick up the gauntlet and run with it…nor are they afraid of calling out others who voice their unfounded criticism.
If you want to get involved with something HERE, I encourage you to volunteer, serve on a board, lend your talents, attend a fundraiser, or donate cash (including stocks, grain, and farmland).
If you’re not sure where to start, you can call Devan or me for ideas. If you’re on the internet, we also suggest scrolling Facebook as most organizations at least have a Facebook page in lieu of a website.
For your favorite charities, you can set up a fund here at the Community Foundation with current or estate assets so that those charities retain your support long after your lifetime.
HERE is powerful. HERE is Grundy and we have all of you to thank for it!
• Julie Buck is the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County. She can be reached at 815-941-0852, firstname.lastname@example.org or at 520 W. Illinois Avenue in the historic Coleman Hardware Building in Morris.