Dennis Horton
Rockford Rotary Past President
     Rotary International’s highest award is the Service Above Award.  It recognizes those who demonstrate Rotary’s Motto by that name, Service Above Self.
     It began in 1911 when Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, asked Rotarian Frank Collins, a merchant from Minneapolis, to address the second Annual Rotary Convention.  There, he coined the phrase in his impromptu speech.
     It became Rotary’s official motto in 1989 and has been used by Rotary International around the world.
     Today, Rotarians exemplify this selfless service by volunteering around the globe in the seven Areas of Focus, which are:
     Promoting Peace
     Fighting Disease
     Providing Clean Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
     Saving Mothers and Children
     Supporting Education
     Growing Local Economies
     Protecting the Environment
     This is Rotary’s commitment to service, but equally important is the impact of Service Above Self in our local communities. For us, Service Above Self has contributed to Rockford’s quality of life for decades.
     Here to share our local story, is Service Above Self, Committee Member, Bob Gough.
Our first honoree is Don Bissell, nominated by Rotarian Ruth Little.
     Don has an uncommon array of talents, ranging from personal counseling skills to computer expertise to accounting to marketing and branding talents. He’s managed over the years to apply those talents to a variety of volunteer activities.
     As a counselor he spent  more than 3 years volunteering in a hospital emergency room. That experience led him to became a counselor with Rockford Rape Counseling, which led him to a 3 year stint on the Board of Rockford Rape Counseling, eventually serving as Board Chair for 3 years.
     Don has applied his computer expertise to create and manage databases for several not for profits including Keith School, the Laurent House, the Greater Rockford Area Air Fest and many others. He has assisted with major fundraisers like the Classics and Chrome Car Show, and the Raise The Roof fundraiser.
     He has provided marketing and branding materials, including graphic design and written materials, for Air Fests, Development Proposals, Marketing Surveys, and a number of political campaigns.
     For the past 7 years, Don has volunteered as a Tax Preparer through Goodwill Industries, helping out those in need of his accounting skills.
     Don may be best known as a founding member of the Friends of Ziok, providing them with all the facets of his talent range from marketing to database management to website creation. This work began in 2010, and culminated in the opening of the Embassy Suites – Rockford, in 2020. He is affectionately sometimes called the Wizard of FOZ.
     So, what does multi-talented Don do after retirement? How about establishing a relationship with a town in Ghana, Africa, traveling there several times since 2000 to help out young people searching for ways to get an education. His impact on this town is such that a business there has been named for him.
     Multi faceted, multi talented, and very much deserving of this recognition, please join me in honoring Don Bissell with a 2021 Service Above Self Award
Our next honoree is Daniel Clark, nominated by Rotarian Denise Noe.
     Dan has served on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Rockford for more than 24 years.
     From the very beginning of his Club involvement, Dan embraced the role of lifestyle modeling for youngsters as  a coach and recreational program participant. In that role he provided character and leadership development for attendees through recreational activities. I’m also told that he still plays a bit of basketball down at the club with some of the regular teen crowd. Positive role modeling!
     Dan also recognized the broader needs of the Club when accepting a position on the Board, with placement on the Resource Development Committee. This added a focus on fundraising and fund development to his regular club activities. He became involved in event planning, sponsorship development, major gift asks – this honoree proved to be a passionate supporter of the Boys & Girls Club and its mission.
     Apparently not satisfied with Basketball, mentoring and fundraising, Dan set off on yet another tangent of service more than 5 years ago. He began providing weekly volunteer homework assistance to the Blackhawk Unit of the Boys & Girls club, located in the Housing Authority’s Blackhawk housing development.
     According to the Director of Volunteers there:
“This nominee has provided academic assistance each week; even during the pandemic when the brothers (yes brothers) he volunteers with needed this nominee more than ever. He reads with them, provides problem solving ideas, supports healthy lifestyle choices and so much more….when schools shifted to online learning, he rolled up his sleeves once again to make sure these brothers were not only able to access their classes but understood the lessons presented…”
     One wonders how many young lives have been positively impacted by this decades long dedication to youth development.
     Please join me in recognizing Dan Clark with a 2021 Service Above Self award.
Next to be recognized this year is an outstanding member of a service organization known for lots and lots of Brats – the Kiwanis. Erich Hagenlocher, nominated by Rotarian Elaine Breck, is an extremely active Kiwanis Club member. So active that I think we should pitch Rotary Club membership to him.
     Some of his activities include:
     - Volunteering monthly at Rock House Kids, preparing and serving meals.
     - Helping children out at the Rockford Day Nursery in clearing beds and planting gardens.
     - He coordinated a Kiwanis Club project providing iPads for the library’s Summer Reading Program, and a “Frosty’s Fabulous Read In Day” at Welsh School – and of course Erich sold a lot of 
     - Kettle Korn and Brats along the way.
     - Erich has participated in the United Way’s “I Read” program for the past 4 years.
     - He routinely volunteers at “Stroll On State”.
     - He’s also worked to support “Gigi’s Playhouse” and “Rockford Promise”.
     - And…for the last 3 years, Erich has spent his Sundays watering the live plants at Swedish American Hospital.
     Erich is also a dedicated Nicholas Conservatory volunteer, working at least once weekly in the greenhouse for over 3 years. He’s acted as a Docent for special events and exhibits, and even helps with “Breakfast With Santa” and Easter Bunny visits at the conservatory.
     And finally, and perhaps most impactful, Erich is a “big brother” to one fortunate boy. He regularly helps the family and this young man with  essentials as needed. This is a great example of how one individual can make a huge difference in a young person’s life.
     For all his efforts – join me in congratulating Erich Hagenlocher for his Service Above Self Award.
We have a rare situation this year in that we have two Honorees who happen to be married to each other. We’ve heard a little bit about Eric Hagenlocher, and now we’ll hear a bit about our next award winner, Jan Hagenlocher, also nominated by Rotarian Elaine Breck.
     Jan worked at Swedish American health System for 37 years, finally retiring as Director of Public Relations. It’s her volunteer work outside of that role during those years and after her retirement that qualifies her for our Service Above Self Award.
     Jan has worked the front desk  at Swedes as a volunteer every Tuesday and Thursday, from 7:00 AM until noon for over 7 years. She in fact was awarded a 2500 hour service award by Swedes over a year ago. She continued this service, and more, even during this last pandemic year, when the hospital needed help to cover “covid leave” of other volunteers. Jan served as the face of Swedish American at the most difficult of times.
     Her dedication to Swedish American goes beyond front desk work. She performed as the lead singer for the Swedish American band, and acted as MC for the band for over 5 years. She has also worked on the planning committee for the Ryan Jury Golf tournament for the past 7 years.
     What else has Jan done?
     - Participated in the Rockford Read program for 8 years, working with students in kindergarten through 3rd. grade.
     - Acted as a Rockford Chamber of Commerce Ambassador for over 20 years.
     - Performed with the Classic Chorale – singing at retirement homes, schools, and at times the Rescue Mission.
     - She has served as a member of Transform Rockford’s Marketing committee.
     - Jan is also a Former Board Member of the Swedish American Foundation.
     - And, she has been a regular performer at the Senior Follies – raising funds to benefit local charities.
     One last beneficiary of Jan’s talents is the Nicholas Conservatory, where she has been a loyal volunteer since 2011.
     For all this and more, Jan Hagenlocher is most deserving of this 2021 Service Above Self Award.
     Please join me in congratulating Jan.
Next on our list of honorees is Maureen Hargrove, nominated by Rotarian Keri Asevedo.
     To say that Maureen is an involved citizen in our local public school system would be a huge understatement. She served on the board of the Guilford High School PTO for 4 years, eventually becoming President. She also served on the board of Auburn High School’s PTO for 4 years, and became President of that organization as well. In addition, she managed the Auburn Spiritware store for 4 years. One would think that those volunteer efforts would be plenty – but Maureen found other ways to serve as well.
     She has volunteered for the United Ways I Read program for 8 years.
     She was active on a number of committees for Rockford Habitat For Humanity for 7 years.
     Over the past 4 years Maureen has taken on the role of “Family Mentor” helping several families navigate the process of owning a Habitat home.
     Also notable amongst her many accomplishments is her dedication to her church, St.Marks Lutheran. She’s been a council member, President of the Church Council, and a member of the church’s Outreach Committee. It was through this committee that Maureen co-founded a uniform co-op program for Rockford elementary school students. The program purchases uniforms, some new, some used, which are then “sold” to families in need. Sold – not given away, as one of the core concepts of the co-op is that the uniforms are affordable, not free. This respects and reinforces the dignity of the buying power of families.
     The program started in 2015 at Beyer Elementary School. When Beyer became an Early Learning Site, Maureen and her team moved and expanded the operation to include Lewis Lemon and Ellis Schools. In 2019 Macintosh school was added. The team of volunteers led by Maureen at these 3 schools distributed 1300 uniform pieces in 2019.
     In order to fund this program, Maureen has secured assistance from the United Way, First Free Rockford, 100 Women Who Care, the Alpine Kiwanis – and I believe our own Rockford Rotary Club.
     A recognized leader in so many organizations doing so much good for us all – please join me in congratulating Maureen Hargrove with her 2021 Service Above Self Award.
It would be hard to find anyone who follows community development in Rockford, particularly downtown development, who has not heard the name of our next 2021 Service Above Self honoree….Mr. Peter Provenzano. Pete was nominated by Rotarian Jeff Fahrenwald.
     Here are just a few of the volunteer efforts Pete has been an important part of over the last several years…
         - 12 years with the Rock River Development Partnership
         - Chair of the Madison Street Corridor Board for 8 years
          - Over 5 years on the Riverview Ice House Expansion Team
          - 6 years on the Transform Rockford Steering committee
          - 5 plus years at the Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence
     The list goes on and on.
     Pete has indeed put his time, talents and resources into efforts to benefit Rockford’s Urban Center. The most visible result of this focus is probably our City Market, an event nurtured by his efforts
     Pete has indeed put his time, talents and resources into efforts to benefit Rockford's Urban Center.  The most visible result of this focus is probably our City Market, an event nurtured by his efforts that has attracted some 100,000 visitors each season - truly a highlight of Rockford's summer celebrations now entering its 12th year.  Not content with outdoor success, our City Market is in the midst of expanding to the Indoor Market on Madison Street, much with the support and guidance provided by Pete.
      As the Dad of a former youth hockey player, I’m personally grateful for his work in maintaining and improving the Riverview Ice House – where scores of kids will be exposed to figure skating and ice hockey – and some adults will somehow survive broomball on the small ice.
     Finally, Pete has been an advocate, donor and volunteer for the Rockford Public Library’s Career Online High School…a program which addresses our community’s need for pathways for achieving high school diplomas for non-traditional students. Just another example of his dedication to community advancement.
     Peter Provenzano is obviously all in for Rockford, and richly deserves this recognition.
     Please join me in congratulating Pete with this Service Above Self award.
It’s my privilege to present our next honoree, Dr. Shiraz Piroshaw Tata, nominated by Rotarians Linda Johnson and Hannah Warren.
     Dr. Tata is a Psychologist who has provided professional care for the hearts and minds of children, adults and families for some 20 years. No doubt her professional care over the years helped many many people, but its’ her dedication to advancing community diversity and justice that has earned her this recognition.
     Much of Dr. Tata’s volunteerism takes place at her church, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockford. For almost 20 years she has volunteered there as a teacher in the Religious Education program, teaching children aged 7 and under.  She helped organize the church’s Women’s Interfaith Potlucks, which, up until Covid hit, was a place for a diverse group of women to meet over supper, discuss differences, similarities and cultural beliefs. Her Minister calls her “a whirlwind of activity”. Her nominator tells me she even makes the coffee for after service social hour.
     Dr. Tata’s focus on diversity and inclusion and justice and anti-racism reaches well beyond her church. She presides over the Justice For All team – a group that strives to promote anti-racism, justice and peace in our community. She has helped organize presentations by authors, book discussions and weekend workshops related to anti-racism. She has supported Womanspace, Eliminate Racism 815, the Womens March, the May 30 Alliance….and more.
     Dr. Tata has organized, raised funds, participated in community panels and in discussion groups and pushed her agenda of peace and justice and anti-racism in ways too numerous to list.
     Please help me congratulate Dr. Shiraz Piroshaw Tata
Our final presentation is a very special one, and one that everyone honored here tonight is eligible for in 2031, ten years from now.
     The Service Above Self program allows for awards to be given to former winners so long as at least 10 years of service has occurred since the initial award, and that the service recognized has been performed after the initial award was given. So you’re all eligible to be recognized again – just keep it up for the next ten years.
     We have with us tonight just such a repeat award winner, only the 6th double honoree in the 53 year history of this program. It makes it even more special for members of our club that the honoree is a fellow Rotarian, Jack Armstrong, nominated by Rotarian Monica Glenny.
     Jack won his first Service Above Self award in 2010. Since then, he hasn’t slowed down a bit in his volunteer efforts in environmental conservation of our remaining natural habitats, and promoting nature education for young people in our community.
     Jack has pursued these passions in a variety of ways: as a Board President, a Park District Commissioner, and as an advocate for conservation at many many meetings, public forums, and community events.  Jack is a recognized environmental  resource for both laymen and professionals in the field, always responding to eMails requesting information or advice.
     He helped organize the first Winter Bird Walk at Aldeen Golf Club – a welcome “covid safe” outdoor event during the pandemic. He acts as a representative for the Winnebago County Geographic Information System, mapping our natural resources with an eye towards preservation. He serves on the Severson Dells Nature Center Board – has done so for almost 23 years. He’s an active member of the Sinnissippi Audubon Society. And let us not forget the many wildflower hikes he led through our parks and natural areas.
     All this on top of a long outstanding career as a science teacher in our Rockford Public Schools.
     He just never slows down.
     Please welcome for his second Service Above Self award, Rotarian Jack Armstrong.
Suzanne Berger, SAS Chair
     Congratulations to all of our wonderful Service Above Self recipients this year!
     Now, it is my honor to turn our attention to what is presumably a first in the history of this event.
     We can all agree that the pandemic brought forth many “firsts” in our lives, none more significant or impactful than the role of our health care systems across this nation.
     In the spirit of selflessness, which we are celebrating today, the Rotary Club of Rockford is pleased to recognize our 3 health care systems for their extraordinary humanitarian service since the pandemic began.
     To be clear, the Service Above Self award remains a recognition of volunteers who exemplify service for causes greater than themselves without remuneration.  The 3 awards about to be given do not fit that criterion.  Certainly, health care workers get paid.
     But the thing is: they did not get paid for their heroic efforts day in, day out; with little or no sleep; often with great risk to their own health to cure the severely ill, to hold the hands of the dying, and to comfort those grieving the loss of loved ones. People of all walks of life, of all creeds, religions, nationalities, and economic backgrounds looked to these people to make their lives whole again. And still do.
     This is humanitarian service that deserves our recognition now – at the time, in this place.
     We have asked each health care organization to describe its contributions during this critical time.
Mercyhealth System
Dr. John Dorsey, Vice President & Chief Medical Officer;
Dr. Matthew Smetana, Emergency Dept. Physician
     At Mercyhealth, the safety, health, and well-being of our patients and the community are our number one priority.
     When COVID-19 turned our world upside down, Mercyhealth partners were on the front lines, caring for patients and developing new and innovative ways to protect the health of our community.         Telemedicine services were quickly expanded to ensure the health care needs of patients were met, while also abiding by the Stay at Home order.
     Our Safe Care Commitment ensured that visitors to our hospitals and clinics were safer than ever.  Classes and presentations went virtual to provide health education and keep people connected.           COVID testing clinics offered timely results; and when vaccines became available, convenient vaccination clinics allowed area residents an opportunity to get vaccinated so they could get back to doing the things they loved.
     COVID-19 dramatically changed our lives, both personally and professionally. What it didn’t do, however, was diminish the passion our doctors and staff have for their work and those for whom they care. We thank them for their teamwork and dedication to protecting our community during these challenging times.
OSF HealthCare
Ms. Paula Carynski, President
     Without question, the past 17 months have been remarkably unprecedented, not only for those in the health care industry, but for everyone around the world. The COVID-19 virus brought so many unknowns, but even through the scariest of times, the Mission Partners at OSF HealthCare stepped up to meet the challenges head-on, thanks to exemplary leadership and strength.
     Through the long hours, constant changes, and dozens of perilously-ill patients, our Mission Partners worked tirelessly to keep hope alive for those in need. Every one of our Mission Partners—from those on the front lines, to those in housekeeping, pastoral care, food service—answered the bell when called upon.  We are beyond grateful for the unwavering teamwork and dedication displayed during this trying time.
     COVID-19 has left an indelible mark on the world’s history, and much has been learned by living through this harrowing experience. But even during the darkest days, OSF Healthcare and our Mission Partners proved we will always be here, serving our community with the greatest care and love.
A Division of UW Health

Ms. Ann Gantzer, Chief of Nursing Officer
Dr. Michael Paulizzotto, Chief  Medical Officer
     SwedishAmerican’s mission is “Caring for our Community.” Never has that mission been more tested and proven to be true than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our healthcare heroes endured long, emotional, and often painful days and nights. Doctors, nurses, therapists, assistants, techs, pharmacists, environmental services staff and more…. There is a long list of front line workers who sacrificed their own safety to care for patients every day.
     But the role of SwedishAmerican in the fight against COVID-19 expanded beyond simply treating sick patients. SwedishAmerican has been a community leader in planning, partnering and educating since the very start of the pandemic, proving once again that we believe and live out our mission every day.
All of our Individual Honorees
Elise Cadigan and Honoree Dr. Shiraz Tata
Habitat for Humanity was well represented
Keri Asevedo and Honoree Maureen Hargrove
SupplyCore Goup
Honoree Jan Hagenlocher and Rotarian Elaine Breck
Honoree Don Bissell, Rotarian Ruth Little, and Mrs. Bissell