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Volunteers honored at National Philanthropy Day luncheon

Tuesday, November 16, 2010  
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Posted: Nov 16, 2010 8:14 AM CST
Updated: Nov 16, 2010 2:39 PM CST


Rockford, IL — In recognition of National Philanthropy Day, each year the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) honors individuals and groups who, through their hard work and dedication, have enhanced philanthropy, their communities, and the world.


Sunil Puri and Family, nominated by Rockford College President Robert L. Head

Since coming to Rockford in 1979 as a Rockford College student, Sunil Puri has been a force of change in myriad ways that benefit countless residents in need and the city as a whole. Puri is founder and president of FirstRockford Group, a real estate development corporation. The award recognizes Puri's vision, leadership and philanthropy to numerous local and causes, including Rockford College, Rockford Park District, Rock Valley College Starlight Theater, United Way, Womanspace, YWCA of Rockford, the Rockford School District and the Keeling-Puri Global Peace Plaza. Puri was nominated by Rockford College President Robert L. Head.

Ralph Kreissler, nominated by David Byrnes, president of Midway Village Museum

Ralph Kreissler is an entrepreneur who used the success of two manufacturing companies he founded to provide good jobs to area residents and support a variety of human service agencies that serve a wide range of needs. Today, Kreissler is semi-retired from his companies, HMC Products Inc. and Ekstrom-Carlson, a division of D&R AutoChuck Mfg. He works behind the scenes on behalf of many organizations that benefit from his quiet leadership and generosity, including Rockford Rescue Mission, Zion Development Corporation, Habitat for Humanity, Northern Illinois Hospice, The Haven Network, Carpenter's Place, Salvation Army and Midway Village Museum.


Anderson Packaging Inc., nominated by Kim Adams-Bakke, executive director for Rock River Valley Pantry

Under the leadership of Pharmaceutical Division President Shawn Reilley and Vice President of Operations Robin Remsen, Anderson employees have demonstrated exceptional volunteerism and fundraising to benefit various local causes. The corporate ethic at Anderson Packaging recognizes the importance of supporting the community where employees live, work and play. The company appointed a Corporate Social Responsibility Team to identify, collaborate and work for those in need of assistance. Agencies that benefit from employees' efforts include United Way, American Cancer Society, Rock River Valley Pantry, Rockford Rescue Mission, Patriots Gateway Center and WAVE.


Try-Beta Foundation, nominated by Lynne Vass, Senior Vice President of Development for The Rosecrance Foundation

The Try-Beta Club was founded by a small group of men to raise funds to benefit local charities. Over 35 years, the club has sold and delivered thousands of hanging flower baskets at Mother's Day in order to donate more than $20,000 annually to children's charities. Among the groups to benefit from Try-Beta's efforts: Trinity House, Rockford Day Nursery, Mosaic, Walter Lawson's Children's Home, Red Ribbon, Epilepsy Foundation, RAMP, Rockford Literacy Council, Children's Home and Aid Society, Goldie Floberg and Rock Ministries.


Steve Nailor, nominated by Bill Pratt, president and CEO for Wesley Willows

Steve Nailor's recent success chairing the $5.2 million capital campaign for Wesley Willows Town Center is just one of his many efforts to ensure the financial stability of worthy local non-profit groups. He also has served as Vice President of Fund Development for the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and Vice President and Chairman of Fund Development for Growth Dimensions. Other agencies to benefit from his leadership include: YMCA, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful and the Northern Illinois Conference of United Methodist Men.


Kent Mallquist, nominated by Rockford Park District

Under Kent Mallquist's decade of leadership as president, the Rockford Park District Foundation has raised more than $26 million for facilities and programs to benefit the community. He is president of Alhark Corp., a commercial real estate investment firm. A hands-on leader, Mallquist has given of his time, treasure and talent to innumerable organizations over almost 45 years. Those organizations include the Rockford Park District, YMCA, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Rockford College, Keith School, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, SwedishAmerican Medical Foundation and Rotary International. He currently serves on the Coronado Performing Arts Board and the RAVE Board.


Individual: Jack O'Neil, nominated by Michelle Gorham, Rockford Memorial Development Foundation

Seven-year-old Jack O'Neil knew from having had several surgeries that it can be scary for a kid to be in the hospital. During a hospital stay when Jack was 6, another young patient had a birthday. Jack thought how hard that must be, and he came up with the idea for a charity called "Little Hands Make a Big Difference" based on the premise of kids helping kids. Jack set up a lemonade stand that summer to raise money for gifts for hospitalized children. He spoke about his cause at his school. He inspired a group of middle school students to request a grant from the In Youth We Trust Program of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. Within six months, Jack's "Little Hands" organization had raised $4,000 to buy stuffed animals and other comfort toys for hospitalized children. Because of his efforts, gifts have been made to children at Rockford Memorial Hospital, St. Jude's Hospital, Childrens Memorial Hospital in Chicago and Rush University Children's Hospital.

Group: Delta Student Ministry of Heartland Community Church, nominated by Liz Brekelbaum

Members of the Delta Student Ministry, a high school youth group at Heartland Community Church, devoted countless hours to planning and hosting "A Night to Remember," a prom-like experience for students with special needs between the ages of 12 and 25. Each Delta member was paired with a student for an evening of dinner, dancing and fun. Delta volunteers helped their special guests acquire formalwear for the occasion and assisted them as they got all dressed up to party. Delta members accompanied their guests on limousine rides and danced with them throughout the red-carpet event. One mother said of her son's experience that the event "will change him forever. He has found that kindness towards him does exist."

The Rockford Area Chapter of AFP has 61 members representing not-for-profit organizations in the areas of education, social services, environment, arts, community organizations, and religion. The chapter is part of an international organization with nearly 30,000 members in 213 chapters throughout the world. The association works to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. It fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.

This story appeared at on November 16, 2010.

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