Bethany for Children & Families hosted its annual Community Celebration on Friday, Nov. 3, to celebrate the agencies’ work – and that of its families – to assist and uplift some of the Quad Cities most vulnerable neighbors.
The celebration, held at The Stern Center in Rock Island, drew nearly 200 guests including Bethany employees, donors and families.
The evening included dinner, live music and a raffle. Modern Woodmen of America, Rock Island, was the presenting sponsor.
Three special awards also were announced during the annual celebration:
- The Ruth Evelyn Katz Adoptive Family of the Year honor was awarded to Julie Ackerson and Thomas Boyd of Galesburg, Illinois. Ms. Ackerson and Mr. Boyd adopted three children, and fostered them prior to adoption. They were nominated by Bethany Foster Care Supervisor Ellen Nagle. “The stability and grace Tom and Julie demonstrate has changed lives. The mutual respect and love seen in the home is admirable,” Ms. Nagle said.
- The Foster Family of the Year was awarded to Lindsey and Jeremiah Shoemaker of Geneseo, Illinois. The family of 11 has five biological children and are fostering four children, including twins. The Shoemakers were nominated by Vicki Burke, Bethany’s Illinois Foster Care licensing supervisor. “The Shoemakers, as an entire family, have changed the lives of the children they care for through love, support, and selfless sacrifice. As difficult as it is for biological parents to be away from their children within the foster care experience, the biological parents have expressed that they know their children are safe and loved,” Ms. Burke wrote in her nomination. “We were excited to welcome each child into our house,” Ms. Shoemaker said. “It was something I always felt was laid on my heart.”
- The Community Champion of the Year award recognized St. Ambrose University’s Maintenance crew of Kaylon Spengler, Terry Wilson, and Jim Hannon. The trio was nominated by Bethany President and CEO Bill Steinhauser. “With donations from St. Ambrose, foster parents who need an additional bed when a child has been added to their family receive one,” Mr. Steinhauser said. In his nomination, he wrote “The St. Ambrose crew has “repurposed” a multitude of abandoned left-overs from students, including refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, dryers, tables, chairs, couches, desks, and microwaves (albeit some with left-over questionable “science” experiments). Rather than have these items populate a landfill, they are reassigned to families in need, children in want, and homes that celebrate “new-to-them” furniture.”
Founded in 1899, Bethany for Children & Families is a non-profit child welfare, mental health, community education, and social services provider for children and families in western Illinois and eastern Iowa. Through its 26 programs and services, the agency serves nearly 12,000 children and families annually. For more details, visit www.bethany-qc/org.