2016 Community Advocacy Award Winners
We had many wonderful nominations. Take a minute to meet our 2016 Community Advocacy Winners.
Bill Houlihan Professional Award
John Riley has hosted the Drive for Miracles Radiothon for the past 15 years to raise funds to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. For two days in December, John broadcasts live from the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in an effort to raise funds and increase awareness. He meets with current and former patients and their families to further demonstrate how lives are changed everyday by the work done at the Children’s Hospital. His work is year round and with his support and participation, the Radiothon has raised more than $3 million over all the years to help Children’s Hospital of Illinois deliver the highest quality of care to countless children.
The Organization for Understanding Congenital Hearts (T.O.U.C.H)
T.O.U.C.H. has spent the last 30 years helping patients and supporting families of children born with congenital heart defects (CHD). This unique not-for-profit organization is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. These volunteers are parents who have children with special hearts, or are now an adult with CHD. The mission of T.O.U.C.H. is to empower families, children and adults with CHD, to share coping strategies, and for a sense of community. They provide a mentoring program to communicate with families who may need emotional support as they truly know and understand the fears and anxiety that a parent experiences. T.O.U.C.H. also has provided informational packets and have established websites to increase public awareness. The group has also raised over $600,000 for the annual telethon. They opened Megan’s Lodge in 2006; this is located at Wildlife Prairie Park and is a retreat available to congenital cardiac families for a very low fee as many CHD families struggle with finances and are unable to take a family vacation. The annual T.O.U.C.H. picnic is just another way to establish a sense of community for children and families with CHD. Most recently, T.O.U.C.H. has established the Stella Wilson Memorial Scholarship which is a scholarship to help cover some financial assistance to help achieve children with CHD goals and education success.
Christine Zak-Edmonds Volunteer Award
Pastor Quinton Brown has been instrumental in the lives of many youth and community members in Peoria, IL. Since moving here from Chicago, almost 10 years ago, Pastor Brown has spread his love of beautifying the environment. He works with his congregation in improving the overall look and atmosphere of the church and other properties owned by New Beginnings Worship Center. He is also leading a project to erect a picnic and play area for local neighborhood children and families. He holds annual awards programs to motivate and recognize area youth of all ages in the church to instill the importance of academic success. One of his biggest and most impressive accolades is his organization of the annual Back to School Festival. Pastor Brown, along with the congregation, volunteers, and community members, work to give over 2,000 back packs full of supplies to be given to those in need.
Joey Stowell Youth Award
At only 11 years old, Alexia Melleny, a 5th grader at United West Elementary School in Monmouth, IL, is helping encourage others to pick up a book. Alexia started a book drive that was named “Feed on Books” as a way to share her love of reading. By visiting local businesses, schools, banks, and libraries, she is able to collect new or gently used books to distribute. She began working with a local food pantry, Jamieson Community Center, and has been able to provide free books to the children of over 300 families that utilize their services. Alexia has been able to collect over 1,800 books since starting the program. She is persistent in seeing the success of the program and has is excited at the possibility of growing the program more. Her goal is to encourage other children to love reading as much as she does.
Dr. Lourdes Delgado-Serrano
Dr. Mary Schultz Physician Award
Dr. Delgado-Serrano is a child psychiatrist for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois and has been improving the lives of children in central Illinois since 2002. She also dedicates a portion of her time as a consulting child psychiatrist for Resource Link. This has allowed her to reach even more children through central and northern Illinois by being able to provide psychiatric consults for primary care providers. Dr. Delgado-Serrano works with school districts as well to educate professionals in education about common issues their students may face. Even with the shortage of mental health professionals in pediatrics, Dr. Delgado-Serrano continues to take on more patients and present as often as possible to narrow the gaps that exist in pediatric mental health care. She is an advocate for children in every sense of the word.