Women's Recognition Day 2019
The 38th annual Women’s Recognition Day Luncheon, sponsored by the YWCA Pekin, was held Thursday, May 9, 2019, at the Pekin Country Club. Nearly 200 attendees gathered to hear guest speaker Evelyn Sanguinetti, former Illinois Lieutenant Governor, and to honor six women with Outstanding Achievement Awards. In addition, the event recognized fifteen outstanding female students from Tazewell County schools. Guest speaker Evelyn Sanguinetti was elected as the 47th Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois in 2014. Evelyn served not only as the first Latina Lieutenant Governor of the state, but of the entire country. She is a wife, working mother of three, and an attorney. She was formerly an adjunct professor of law, an Assistant Illinois Attorney General, and a Wheaton City Councilwoman. Evelyn gave an inspirational talk about her humble beginnings as a child of Cuban refugees in Florida to her rise to becoming the nation’s first Latina Lieutenant Governor. YWCA Pekin Women’s Recognition Day Achievement Awards are presented to women who demonstrate outstanding achievement and leadership in the Tazewell County area. They must have residence or employment in Tazewell County.
Business Award Recipient
Cathy Kemp is the recipient of the Business Award. Cathy has been in the food and beverage management for many years. Her dream of owning her own restaurant became a reality when she and her husband opened their own establishment, Kemp 208 Main Street Grill in Morton. Her restaurant features a menu which rotates often and has a rustic New American flair. One reviewer states that the restaurant has the quality of a 5-star Chicago restaurant at a 3-star pricing. Cathy’s inspiration satisfies her customers, but she is also very supportive of her staff. When one of her staff lost her life as a victim of domestic abuse, Cathy and her staff immediately began to support the Center for Prevention of Abuse and annually participate in their signature Duck Race fundraiser.
Business Award Recipient
Community Service Award Recipient
Susan McCabe received the Community Service Award. Susan has long history of serving the community through both teaching and volunteering. Although she retired from teaching in the Peoria Public Schools in 2013, she never really left the classroom. She volunteers in the classroom several days a week and serves on various civic boards and committees, such as AAUW, Pekin Hospital League, Pekin Kiwanis Club, and the Marigold Festival. Her volunteer work also promotes flower gardening throughout central Illinois. Monarch butterfly way stations, downtown large flower planters, the Kiwanis flower garden, and the memorial garden at TAPs are all a result of Susan’s hard work. She also conducts an annual plant sale to support St. Jude, raising over $11,000 to date.
Outstanding Employee Award Recipient
Janet Stevens is this year’s Outstanding Employee Award winner. Janet was nominated by First Pekin Savings, where she will soon celebrate 20 years of outstanding service. She began her career as a part-time bookkeeper and steadily rose from teller, receptionist, executive assistant, and customer service manager, to her current position of Assistant Vice President of Customer Service. Her nominators describe her as a true professional who leads by example. She encourages and listens to her staff’s ideas, identifies ways to better serve the customer, and willingly accepts more responsibilities as needed. In addition to her regular bank duties, Janet takes the lead role in organizing and participating in many community events, such as the Marigold Parade, the Pekin downtown car show, Chamber of Commerce children and business expos, Pekin United Way campaign, and the bank’s “Denim for a Cause” fundraiser. Janet is a graduate of the David R. Tebben Leadership Academy.
Professions Award Recipient
Dr. Nani Moazzam is the recipient of the Professions Award. Dr. Moazzam is a surgeon who has been in the healthcare profession for 22 years. In addition to the clinical responsibilities of being a surgeon, she has served in many leadership roles and has been an advocate for women’s health in the area of breast cancer. Where women previously had to travel to Peoria for breast cancer options, she has been able to make staying in Pekin a reality. She has also served as the president of the Pekin Hospital medical staff as well as a director on the Progressive Health Systems Board. Her leadership was instrumental for a smooth transition from a small hospital to a large medical conglomerate. She has been recognized as a leader in Patient Experience, earning the Vitals Patient Choice Award. Her peers describe her as compassionate, pleasant, hardworking, dedicated, and conscientious in her patient care duties and has overcome the challenges of stereotypes and biases with dignity and grace.
Impact Award Recipient
The Impact Award is bestowed upon a person or organization who has impacted our community in a special way and is determined solely by the YWCA Board of Directors. This year’s Impact Award winner is Rachel Berchtold, owner of Eli’s Coffee Shop in Morton, Tremont, and in Metamora. Rachel began her work as a barista at Eli’s, later became a store manager in Tremont, and eventually became an owner and expanded the business to Metamora. In addition to her shop’s success, the real reason she was chosen for this award is her dedication to community. Each month Eli’s Coffee Shop selects a local cause or organization to be the proceeds recipient of one dollar from each sale of a specially designated drink. They also offer an online application for organizations to be considered to receive 10% of day’s sales through their Donate a Day program. Rachel also values the landmarks of her community, constructing Eli’s shops in pre-existing structures, preserving the buildings’ histories. In a recent trip to Guatemala, Rachel experienced the entire coffee creation process from farm to table and saw the benefit to the local communities of the coffee-making business. She, through Eli’s, is dedicated to serving only ethically and sustainably sourced coffee, ensuring that they positively impact the lives of their partners in other countries just as they do here through their daily acts of giving.
Mission Award Recipient
The Mission Award is given to an individual or organization who works to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all, which is the Mission of the YWCA. The YWCA Pekin Board of Directors chose Sarah Shryer as our Mission Award recipient. Sarah is the Assistant State’s Attorney in Tazewell County. She leads the force to prosecute those who have exploited or abused children. She reviews every potential prosecution that involves sexual abuse, battery or death of a child. For the worst of these crimes, she prosecutes them herself. She has been doing this grueling work for many of her ten years as an assistant state’s attorney, bringing the oppressors and tormentors of children to justice, which allows the children who fell victims to these crimes to begin to heal. The prosecution of these crimes brings these horrible acts into the light so that the children can be freed from terrible circumstances, restoring their dignity and giving them peace. Her persistent determination and practical knowledge promotes peace, justice, freedom, and dignity in our community
Junior High Honorees
Reagan Ritter is an 8th grader at St. Patrick School in Washington. She is the daughter of Kelly and Hans Ritter. Reagan is a talented young lady who has been an honor roll student for three years and has been honored for Accelerated Math and Reading, for History, and has received the Presidential Award three times. She is artistic and musical, singing in the choir, playing in the band, and drawing posters. Her athletic accomplishments include cross country, basketball, volleyball, track, and cheerleading. Reagan gives a lot of volunteer service to her church and community by helping serve at various church services and by volunteering in the giving garden, the Christian Village, the Hospice Home, soup kitchens, and many others. She even had time to be on the school speech team, Spanish Club, and in the spelling bee. In the future, she would like to go to medical school to become a neonatal doctor.
Madisyn Maquet was selected by South Pekin Grade School. Madisyn is the daughter of Nick Maquet and Jessica Stork. She is a strong student, making the high honor roll. She must be a very good speller because she won the school spelling bee. She also used her academic abilities to be a member of the Scholastic Bowl. Cheerleading, dance, and track are included in Madisyn’s athletic skills. Her leadership skills are in evidence because she has participated in the student council and was a school leader at the teen conference organized by the Tazewell County Health Department. She likes pageants, too, having participated in Little Junior Preteen and the Miss Marigold competitions. Madisyn plans to go to college and has a particular interest in studying writing, illustration, and dancing.
Emma Nunnery was the student chosen by East Peoria Central Junior High School. Emma is the daughter of Nicole Nunnery. Emma has achieved honor and high honor rolls since first grade. She was runner up in the district spelling bee and was awarded the Language Arts Department Award. She enjoys creative writing of fiction stories as well as drawing and sketching, and she enjoys a wide variety of musical genres including classic rock, pop, and dance. Her school activities are numerous and wide range in interest — chorus, First Lego League, Scholastic Bowl, Student Council (serving as president), Math Counts, Newscast, and track. She won the school Shark Tank challenge, where she presented her invention and business plan on how to remain safe during a school shooting. Emma has been awarded first place in the First Lego League Robot Performance and the Grand Champion Award for 2016 Regionals. She won a scholarship to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Emma has volunteered over 120 hours of community service to summer childcare camps for lowincome families, food pantries, homeless shelters, nursing homes, and community outreach programs for the elderly. After high school, she plans to study physics at the U of I and then go to grad school for a Ph. D. in astrophysics
Zoe Vo was been chosen by Georgetowne Middle School in Marquette Heights. Zoe’s parents are Peter and Kelly Vo. Academically, Zoe has made the high honor roll every quarter throughout her whole middle school career. She enjoyed being a cheerleader for three years for Georgetowne. Her honors and awards include receiving the American Citizenship Award and the Illinois Valley Principal’s Association Award. She will be receiving the Top Student award from the Pekin Elks Lodge this month. She was selected to be an Honor Marshall in seventh grade, she is in the National Junior Honor Society, she has been the district spelling bee champ, and in the 7th grade her teachers selected her to be the student representative for the Student Handbook Committee. Zoe is also musical, playing in band (Outstanding Band Member Award), jazz band, and the choir (Outstanding Choir Member Award). She has participated in solo and ensemble contests at ICC for the past four years. Zoe’s other school activities included student council and yearbook club. For community service, Zoe has organized fundraisers for S. Jude families and for TAPS. She plans to attend college after high school, career not yet decided.
Norah Springborn is an 8th grader at Edison Junior High School in Pekin. Norah’s parents are Greg and Valerie Springborn. She is a high honor roll student who has received the Pekin Rotary Scholastic Award, and as a member of the Edison Speech Team, Norah received the IESA Speech Judges’ Choice Award. She was chosen for the Veteran’s Day Leadership Award. She swims on the Pekin Water Dragons Swim Team and loves all kinds of dance — tap, ballet, jazz, and lyrical, which made her a good choice to be on the Poms dance team at school. Music is very important to Norah. She plays piano and the euphonium, and her vocal music includes choir, Friends in Harmony Youth Choir, and singing the National Anthem at all Edison home games. She plays in the junior high concert and jazz bands and won First ratings for both instrumental and vocal performances at the IGSMA competition. Norah was just confirmed at church and has been a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School leader. In the community, she has volunteered for TAPS, St. Jude, Marigold Festival, nursing homes, and Destination Imagination.
Morgan Baer is an 8th grader who was selected by Tremont Middle School. Morgan’s parents are Mark and Jamie Baer. Language arts and writing are Morgan’s favorite subjects at school, where she has made the honor roll every year since 5th grade. At school she has also played the clarinet for the Tremont Middle School Band for four years and has participated in Snowflake, an anti-drug and alcohol program. She loves to draw animals and do crafting, especially making God’s Eyes. She must love animals because she received the 4-H Livestock Showmanship Awards for two years. She trains calves at Aberle’s dairy farm for 4-H showings, and she is also employed as a member of the Aberle farm team, working about 8 hours a week. Morgan also gives to her community in many volunteer activities, such as working at the Tremont Turkey Festival helping at the strawberry shortcake tent, food preparation, and the serving line. She has also volunteered at the Midwest Food Bank packing food and other supplies for hurricane relief efforts. Morgan plans to attend ICC and study agriculture and animal husbandry. She aspires to become a horse trainer and handler and hopes to own as many horses as possible.
Addison Swadinsky is the outstanding student from Deer Creek-Mackinaw Junior High School in Mackinaw. Addison is the daughter of Jodi and Todd Swadinsky. Academics, athletics, and church activities top the list of Addison’s achievements. She has been a straight A student at Dee-Mack, where she was selected as the top math student in 2018. For her academic abilities, she received the Central Illinois Student Recognition award. Sports are very important to Addison. She is a four-sport athlete at Dee-Mack, playing softball, basketball, and volleyball, and participating on the track team. Her basketball team was runner-up in the state tournament. She took part in the all-state junior high classic. She went to state in both track and volleyball, and she is the pitcher for her school’s softball team. Church activities are important to Addison, also. She serves at Elevate Church, and she has helped lead a Bible study group. Addison’s future plans are to go to college and still be playing a sport.
Olivia Kula was honored by St. Joseph School in Pekin. Olivia’s parents are John Kula and Rebecca Kula. Olivia is a straight-A students who, as an 8th grader, takes the advanced algebra math class at PCHS. She was the Geography Bee co-champion this year, and she won 2nd place in the spelling bee. Other school activities at St. Joseph include serving as secretary of the student council, helping as an assistant for the school office, singing in the school choir, and reading to preschool and kindergarten kids. Olivia likes sports, too, and participated on her school’s track and soccer teams. She was a regional and state medalist for age group swimming. At church she has served as a lector and cantor at Mass and provided internet recordings of Mass using the church’s equipment. Her community service shows her compassion for others. She has volunteered at Sophie’s Kitchen and the Pekin Township Hall serving meals, she has participated in canned food drives for St. Vincent de Paul, and she has gone caroling to homebound people at Christmastime. Olivia likes to cross stitch and was chosen to be her school’s yearbook cover designer this year. After high school she plans to go to school to be a cardiologist or a hospital administrator.
Lauren Filarski is an 8th grader at Broadmoor Junior High School in Pekin. Lauren’s mom and dad are Matt and Natalie Filarski. She is an honor roll and high honor roll student. Her writing skills led her to be awarded the Young Author winner. Sports are very important to Lauren. She was a member of the track team, volleyball team, and cross country team at Broadmoor. Her cross country team went to state both her 7th and 8th grade years, and Lauren was a team captain of that sport. She is a member at St. Joseph Catholic Church, where she will be confirmed this year. Her volunteer and community service work includes service learning at school and volunteering at places such as Schramm School and the Pekin Public Library. Going to college and becoming a teacher are her plans for after high school.
Liberty Kasinger is the student chosen by Rankin School District 98. Liberty is the daughter of Leonard and Lynn Kasinger. She is a seventh grader at Rankin. Liberty excels in many things — academics, athletics, speech, and school leadership. Academically, she maintains a straight A grade point and was chosen to be a member of the National Junior Honor Society. Her sports activities at school include cross country, girls’ basketball, cheerleading, and track, as well as participating in the Pekin Pride Soccer league. Liberty also enjoyed being a member of the Rankin speech team. She spends her free time volunteering at her church and playing with her new puppy “Lady”.
Breanna Lyn Wallett is being honored by Parkview School in Creve Coeur. She is an eighth grader. Breanna’s parents are Candace Shaffer and Jason Wallett. She is an honor roll student who was chosen as student of the month at Parkview. She is good at all studies but particularly excels in science and mathematics. Music is important to Breanna. She likes to sing and enjoys playing the saxophone. She has been a member of the school choir and band. She attends church in Metamora, where she is a member of the youth group there. Parkview principal Steve Johnson describes Breanna as an honest, trustworthy person who is very kind and helpful to others. Breanna says that her plans after high school include attending college, traveling, and finding a steady job.
High School Honorees
Victoria McDougall was chosen by Washington Community High School. Victoria is the daughter of Tonya and Dustin McDougall. She has been a high honor roll student every semester of high school and has always been enrolled in the most rigorous classes offered at WCHS. Her grade point average is 4.783 on a 4.0 scale, with a class rank of 12 out of 277 graduates. She has been a member of the Science Club for three years and was inducted into the National Honor Society her junior year. Her high school sports were basketball, cross country, and track. She was a member of the WCHS basketball team all four years and served as a volunteer for summer basketball camp. Victoria received the Outstanding Athlete Award for the 4x800 in the Mid-Illini Conference her freshman year. Other school activities at Washington Community High School include being on the Executive Board for four years, the Pep Club, and the Fitness Club. Her church is St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Washington, where she has been a part of its youth group. Victoria shines in the area of community service. She is the co-organizer for the St. Jude Backyard Talent Show, where she does everything behind the scenes, including editing scripts, organizing the acts, lining everyone up, and calming the nerves of the performers. She has been involved with the St. Jude Runner and Fundraiser Washington to Peoria, and she has taken part in Washington Leadership and Community Service for four years. After her graduation this spring, Victoria will be preparing to attend the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in the fall.
Hope Hill was selected by Pekin Community High School. Her mom and dad are Mike and Kerri Hill. All throughout Hope’s career at Pekin High School, she has been involved with the JROTC program, ranked one of the best in the nation year after year. Starting with her academic abilities, Hope has received the JROTC Academic Achievement Award as well as being chosen to be a member of the National Honor Society. In athletics, she has been a member of the high school tennis team, and she was a wrestling auxiliary member for three years. Not only are students in JROTC physically fit, but they excel in other skills, too. Hope has excelled in rifle skills. She received 1st place in the Pekin JROTC Bastean rifle classic in 2017. In the fall of 2018, she placed 1st in the shorter division 3 position air rifle competition at the Central Illinois Precision Shooting Fall Classic. Her senior year also she was the varsity rifle team captain and a National qualifier in competition. Her outstanding achievements in JROTC led her to be a part of its Leadership team, and she is a JROTC staff member (S-4 NCO). The AMVETS awarded her the ROTC Recognition award in 2018. Hope has participated in other high school activities, also. She has been on the student council for two years, served as a student ambassador, and has been a member of Key Club. For community service, Hope has volunteered over 50 hours at Pekin Hospital and has participated in the JROTC flag placing at Lakeside Cemetery for Veterans and Memorial Day. Hope’s future plans are to attend ICC and then a 4-year university to study business administration, while she continues to work at Caterpillar as a Cat Certified Rebuild clerical student trainee.
Emily Wendling has been chosen by Tremont High School. Emily’s parents are Adam and Mindy Wendling. This National Honor Society member has also been recognized as an Illinois State Scholar and was named in the Journal Star Top Ten list. Her participation in musical events include musical and theater productions. She is in the Tremont High School concert choir and the madrigal choir. In sports Emily played varsity volleyball, was the speaking captain, and was a club volleyball coach. She even extended this interest in sports to become a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Other school activities at Tremont High School include being student body president, State Student Council honor delegate, Hopewell District student council treasurer, district credential committee member, student body liaison, and prom planning committee. For all her involvement at her school, she has been awarded with the Principal’s Choice secondary school recognition award and received the Disciplined Award for volleyball. For her church, she has gone on mission team trips and has been on the cabin leadership team. She has built up an impressive 338 community service hours and mentions that she has been a Tazewell County election volunteer. Emily has decided to become a teacher. She will attend Illinois State University, studying elementary education.
Christine Dunker was honored by Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School. Christine is the daughter of Troy and Rebecca Dunker. This National Honor Society member must be good at all subjects because she has been awarded most outstanding student in chemistry, English, Spanish, and trigonometry. She has been given multiple student of the week awards for English, Spanish, music, speech, science and math. She has received the IHSA Scholastic Achievement Award, and she was on the Scholastic Bowl team for three years. Other honors and awards for Christine include multiple student of the month awards, the Deer Creek American Legion Girls State Award, and being chosen to attend the Illini Girls State in 2018. In music, Christine is a singer in the school choir, where she has been the choir president and the alto section leader. She competed in the IHSA solo and ensemble competition for three years, attended the HOI music conference multiple times, and is a worship leader at Elevate Church. Student council and the Culture Leadership Group are also included in her school activities. She has done peer pals and tutoring , and she was elected to the Dee-Mack homecoming court. Community service for Christine includes working on the Penguin Project of McLean County for three years and going on a mission trip for Habitat for Humanity in 2017. She ants to continue to be involved in the community. For college, Christine will attend Ball State University, majoring in communications.