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Beacon Archive

May 2004
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2004 Citizen of the Year

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 to nominations:

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 project.”

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 better world.”

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 are remarkable.”

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 Center.”
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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