SPRINGFIELD — The Decatur community earned the 2017 Governor's Cup for its participation in the WSOY Community Food Drive, which raised 1.4 million pounds/dollars of food in its 16th year last year.
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the honor Wednesday at a ceremony in Springfield, during which organizers Kevin Breheny of J.L. Hubbard Insurance and Brian Byers of Neuhoff Mediareceived the award along with Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe and Macon County Board Chairman Jay Dunn.
“Winning this award is about our community winning the award and all the efforts of the food drive which is an amazing event,” Moore Wolfe said, calling Decatur a "very, very giving community."
It wouldn’t be possible without the school kids who collect and all the individuals who donate, she said.
Part of the prize is a sign to put up around town, but Moore Wolfe said they hope to get more signs to spread out the visibility. Another part is the Governor’s Cup that travels around to each community that wins. Decatur will have to give it back unless the community wins again next year, Moore Wolfe said.
One of the best things organizers did was put "community" in the title because it really takes everyone to make it a success, Byers said.
“It is amazing for them to recognize the volunteers and everyone who donates and participates,” Byers said. “To be a finalist was an honor and to win was pretty cool for the community.”
The food drive was among 14 winners of the Governor's Hometown Award, which is given by the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service to group efforts that contributed to a community’s quality of life, met a need and had strong volunteer support. Four of those were also finalists for the cup.
The process included two presentations about the project to two separate panels of judges before the winner was chosen. Presenters were Byers, Breheny, director of United Way of Decatur and Mid-Illinois Debbie Bogle and Jerry Pelz, director of the Northeast Community Fund, which helps distribute some of the food collected in the event.
It is important to help others, Rauner said, before announcing the prize and said the cup went to the project with the best community spirit.
The food drive has provided 22 million meals to people in the area, Byers said. Rauner has donated $25,000 to the food drive in the past.
“We do the food drive to feed hungry people, the accolades are not why we do it,” Byers said. But “we hope this works as a thank you for the people we know about who volunteer and the people we don’t know about who volunteer.”
Nominations for 2017 volunteer work are being accepted. More information on the Governor's Hometown Awards and the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards, which is for individuals, can be found at www.serve.illinois.gov.