2020 Spirit of Caring Recipients
We were unable to host our annual Evening of Caring event this year because of COVID-19. But we felt strongly our Spirit of Caring Awards should move forward. We have recognized outstanding volunteer achievement and leadership within our community since 1992. This year we congratulate three individual recipients and one organization. Each has helped make our community a stronger place in which to live, work and raise families. 2020 recipients will be honored in person at our next live Spirit of Caring event.
Elaine Hirschenberger Spirit of Caring Recipient
As a co-founder of Womanspace Rockford, Elaine has dedicated herself to bettering lives and celebrating women. She has given her time and heart-felt talents to area organizations such as the League of Women Voters and the AAUW. In 2019 she took on another enormous project – chairing the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Coalition. The result of this coalition was the erection of a monument dedicated to women for the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The monument was dedicated on October 31 on the Sinnissippi bike path. A nominator rightly said that our community is better for having Elaine be part of it.
Jenna Schachte Spirit-of-the-Future Recipient
“I’m happy to help wherever needed” is something Jenna is often credited as saying and it sums up her approach to involvement in our community. As a nurse and mother of two, Jenna’s dedication to giving of her time in support of nonprofits is remarkable. She worked on a fundraiser for Rosie’s Birthday Club, has rung bells for Salvation Army, volunteers for every event at her children’s school (Holy Family), and is a member of Carpenter’s Place Young Professionals Board. That is only scratching the surface of the ways in which she prioritizes giving back. Our community has a bright future with Jenna leading the way!
Ciara Stahly Spirit-of-the-Future Recipient
Ciara is described as “consistently and tirelessly committed to service.” As a high school senior she became a Rotary Youth Exchange Officer, and has been heavily involved in Rotary since. She is currently President of the Loves Park Rotary and enjoys working with youth in our region. In addition to her work with Rotary, Ciara has volunteered with Goodwill, organized food drives to support wildlife rehabilitation at Hoo Haven and spends time working with the Liam Foundation, which provides support for LGBTQIA+ youth in the Rockford area. One of her nominators said: “she lends a helping hand to ignite change for the people who surround her.”
2020 Organizational Recipient
NAMI Northern Illinois was established in 1984 by a small group of people who were passionate about improving the lives of family members experiencing severe mental illnesses. NAMI Northern Illinois serves Boone, Winnebago and the surrounding northern Illinois counties. This group of special volunteers, dedicated to improving lives, has promoted better housing, crisis intervention, training for law enforcement and an award-winning mental health court in Northern Illinois. To date, hundreds of individuals have gained valuable knowledge and improved their coping skills through NAMI education courses. Many more have participated in one of NAMI’s many support groups that have met monthly for over twenty years.