On April 24th a sell-out, spill-over crowd gathered at the Beaver
Island Lodge for an elegant dinner and the presentation of awards
for both individual and group Citizen of the Year for 2004. Speculation
ran rampant during the meal and the opening remarks afterwards
by Chamber Director Steve West, who talked about the Chamber's
phenomenal growth in the past few years.
Chamber President Kathy Speck said that this year it was particularly
hard to pick a winner from the many individuals and groups nominated.
To prove it, she read several of the comments that had been attached
For the Rural Health Center Board: all these individuals
dedicate so much of their life to serving the community as volunteers,
and what these wise, far-sighted individuals accomplished
and endured has brought us a new Health Center and Staff poised
for a bright future.
For the owners and staff of McDonough's Market: they
set their business needs aside regularly to help with many Island
boards, and they have made innumerable contributions
and sponsored fund-raisers for Islanders in need.
For Nina's Restaurant and the Beaver Island Lodge: over
the last several years they have raised around $20,000 for Island
organizations, such as the Health Center and the Senior Housing
For the Beaver Island Hospice and Helping Hands (members
include Joyce Runberg, Lois Williams, Pat Rowley, Sandy LoDico,
Pinky Harmon, Margaret Bass, Penny Young, Sue Welke, Jane Dwyer,
Floss Frank, Mary Kay Dorais, Kay McElwain, Di Shoop, Shirley
Sowa, Lois Rich, Nancy Cull, Helen Pike, Eula Thomas, Karen
Whitecraft, Donna Kubic, and John Fiegen): they have more
care, love, and devotion in their hearts than any other group,
and over the past nine years they have assisted patients
and family members in need of respite care, helping as many
as 22 patients in a single year.
And for the Fire Department: they are dedicated to
this entire community. We could never thank them enough for
their volunteer efforts to keep us safe.
The nominations for individuals were equally glowing:
For Father Pat: he is a very Christian man who inspires
all the people who hear him to be better and to make this a
For Master Sergeant Ron Gregg: we are all so proud
to have him in our Beaver Island family.
For Phil Gregg (some put Phil and Lil together): besides
his fantastic sense of humor, he can play a deadly hand of euchre,
and engage the interest of all ages with his stories and slide
shows, Phil and Lil are hard to separate because
they've shared their many humanitarian contributions as a couple,
they are eternal optimists, always having something positive
to say about anyone. Phil epitomizes the adage,
you can get a lot done if you don't care who gets the credit,
and their long years of faithful service behind the scenes
For Grace Matela: she has put in thousands of hours
on the finances of the Health Center and BITA while doing the
bookkeeping for a large Chicago company and taking care of her
mother, preferring to work out of the spotlight.
For Bill McDonough: he has been instrumental in many
major civic and private projects, such as the Emerald Isle,
the two ferry docks, and the land and financing for the Health
For Kathy Speck: she has put in so many selfless hours
with the Community Choir, and she has managed to
create an atmosphere of peace in her church and community; when
everyone wants to fight, she provides the vehicle (music) to
bring them together.
For Don Spencer: he is the volunteer most responsible
for the new Health Center, and he has provided encouragement
while persisting in pursuing his mission.
For Paul Welke: he is a quiet man with a huge heart,
if a plane or boat is missing, he's the first in the air,
and he doesn't know the word quit, and all those
times he crawled out of a nice warm bed to transport a patient
to the mainland, no matter what.
For Connie Wojan: because of all the hard work and
long hours she has contributed for over a decade, for
all her years of service to the School and the Health Center,
she has endured more hardships this past year than one
person should have to bear, for all the little things
she does, such as her Wednesday morning story hour, and
she is a soft-spoken, loving, and generous person, and
has held strong in her leadership, manifesting courage and compassion.
And for Jim Wojan: he has contributed for many, many
years, starting with being a charter member and
assistant chief of the Fire Department, to the work he did for
the Ice Rink, he has been the St. James Treasurer
for many years, and done so much for so many Township projects,
and he has made Beaver Island a better place to live.
As the name of each nominee was read, the feeling was, yes, of
course, that's who it has to be. In the end, the winners were
Connie Wojan as an individual and the 19-member Hospice
and Helping Hands as a group. Kathy spoke about several
of their accomplishments and contributions which were not readily
apparent, and everyone present agreed the choices had been well
made. Thanks to Steve West and Jason Allen, each received an official
Certificate of Tribute signed by Governor Jennifer Granholm.
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