The DeKalb County KEYS Initiative recently held its third annual Countywide Asset Champions Awards Breakfast. This event was created to honor local individuals and organizations that are making extraordinary efforts to build developmental assets, create positive connections with young people, and help make DeKalb County a better place for young people to live and grow.
This year’s awardees included:
• Alan Iandola – A security guard at Sycamore High School who has mentored hundreds of young people through the Sci-Fi Club.
• Marty Marks – A DeKalb pastor who presents a special toy ninja to children, youth, young adults, and others as a way of telling them that they are remarkable people and that he is thankful for their place in his life.
• Vic Sebastiano – A retired state police officer from Waterman who saw a need in his local school district and, on his own, found a solution that has had a positive impact on countless students.
• Eva Rey – A DeKalb resident who spends a great deal of her free time coordinating service leadership programs for children and youth.
• Neighbor’s House – A youth program that credits itself with providing tutoring, but in reality does much more than just provide academic assistance to DeKalb youth.
• Genoa Kingston United Way Youth Board – A group of young people from Genoa-Kingston who coordinate several fundraisers in their community to serve families that have incurred devastating losses.
Michael Flora, CEO of Ben Gordon Center, gave the keynote speech at the event. In his speech, he spoke about the need for and value of all adults engaging in asset development in all youth in the community. Flora said investing in young people pays great dividends for our society.
Roger Scott, KEYS Steering Committee chairman, and Mary Hess, KEYS Asset Specialist, introduced and presented all 14 nominees with an Asset Champion certificate of recognition. This year’s nominees include: Cindy Harness, Kishwaukee Education Consortium; Alan Iandola, Sycamore High School; Vic Sebastiano, Indian Creek School District; Carol Vest, Clinton Rosette Middle School; Marty Marks, Immanuel Lutheran Church; Tracy Paszotta, Westminster Presbyterian Church; Dave Elliot; Dan Coran; Eva Rey; Stagecoach Players; Neighbors House; Lauren Zelaya; North Grove Early Act Club; and Genoa Kingston United Way Youth Board.
For more information about developmental assets, how building assets helps young people, or to learn about what’s happening in the community, contact DeKalb County KEYS Initiative by calling 815-756-8501, ext. 111, or visit the KEYS website www.dekalbcountykeys.org.