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Citizens of Character 2016

The Ninth Annual
Community of Character 2016 Honorees

12 Honored for Strength of Character

Twelve people were honored in 2016 at the ninth annual Belleville Achieves Strength in Character dinner. 

Organizers said they especially looked for "unsung individuals," or people who make an ongoing, positive difference in the community without the intention of drawing attention to themselves.  View the Program.

  This Year's Award Winners Are:


Dr. Richard Bass

Dr. Richard Bass is the Associate Principalat Belleville West High School. Dr. Bass has helped create a culture of mutual respect and personal responsibility with his students. He started a mentoring program to support freshmen students in the transition to high school. These students have opportunities they would not otherwise have throughthe effort of Dr. Bass and he instills in them a sense of service to the community through participation in the Sickle CellWalk each September. Dr. Bass is a graduate of Leadership Belleville which brought him a better understanding of our community. He is a devoted husband, father, and friend as well as a role model to past. present. and future Mighty Maroons!

Barb Ducey

Barb Ducey serves as president for the Signal Hill
Neighborhood Association . Under her leadership of over two decades, the association has raised over $25,000 for landscaping in Signal Hill Park. They sponsor Holiday on the Boulevard and the Scarecrow Jamboree. Recently, neighbors were out in force for the 1st Belleville Main Street Marathon and there are countless additional examples of the good work that has occurred under Barb's leadership. She has served the community through Racial Harmony and currently serves on the Signal Hill School Board and the Board of the Illinois Conservation Foundation. Barb is the epitome of public servant and we are all better because of her efforts.


Barb Holt

Barb Hohlt is a long time resident of Belleville who currently serves as Executive Director of the St. Clair County Health Department where she demonstrates a high level of commitment to promoting the health and well-beingof the citizens of Belleville, St. Clair County, and the surrounding region. Barb is a leader and serves numerous professional and civic organizations. She has given hundreds of hours of volunteer service to the community and demonstrates compassion and empathy for all of our residents, especially children, those with special needs and those with physical disabilities. Barb embodies honesty, integrity,and caring in all aspects of her life.


Doug Jones

Dougjones exemplifies character both professionally and personally. He served our city during his 27 year career as a Belleville Police Officer and continues to serve as an attendance officer for Belleville schools. He goes above and beyond the call of duty by helping parents get their children to and from schoolwhen they lack transportation,helping sick students get home from school,and offering encouragement and advice to students on the way to in­ schoolsuspension. He is a volunteer basketballcoach at Notre Dame Academy and a volunteer at Tour de Belleville. Doug, a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather, Is truly a citizen of Belleville worthy of recognition!


Mary Kloess

Mary Kloess is a dedicated educator, role model,and coach. She has taught physical education, driver's education and computer classes at Althoff Catholic High School for the past 42 years. Her passion for sports led her to establish the girls' sports program at Althoff and she served as the first coach for volleyball,basketball, and softball. Mary exemplifies integrity and honesty both on the field and in the classroom. Her actions Inspired many former players and students to follow In her footsteps and become educators and coaches.
Mary and her husband, Tom, have two children who continue Mary's legacy as teachers and coaches.


Drew Kramer

Drew Kramer is a man of character. He lives his life with great conviction and does not waiver from an idea or standard that he feels is right or just. His open attitude and willingness to accept others draws people close to him. As a recently retired Pastor, Drew spent countless hours showing kindness to those he served. It didn't matter If a family was experiencing the sorrow associated with death or the joy associated with a blessed event, Pastor Drew made the occasion meaningful.  Drew, a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, is committed to his wife, family and community and is a man who lives every day of his life as if he is applying for this award.


Adrianne Neville

Adrianne Neville has taken tragedy and turned it into a triumph for other. Adrianne and her husband, Jared, were blessed with a beautiful baby girl,Eden Elizabeth, in 2013. Within hours of coming home from the hospital, Eden was diagnosed with meningitis and, not even a month later, was taken home to Heaven. In the years since. Eden's Army has raised over $100,000 to help families at the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital in St. Louis. She spearheads blood drives at Whiteside Middle School,where she also teaches. Adrianne and Jared do all this while raising Rhett, Mackin, Maryn, and Anna. Adrianne is a citizen changingour community through her faithfuland persevering attitude.


Laura Sauerwein

Laura Sauerwein is a fixture in the Bellevile East class office. She has the unique ability to make every students feel like a star. Students stop by just to get a "Good Morning, Sweetie!" from Mrs. Sauerwein. Because of her lovingand caring personality, students trust her and come to her to share both joys and sorrows. Laura's impact goes beyond her desk. She is a photographer and donates her time and resources to ensure that students who wouldn't otherwise be pictured are able to have senior pictures. Laura is a special person who can always be counted on to provide a kind word, a smile, or a hugjust when you need it the most.


Sharon Strausbaugh

Sharon Strausbaugh has worked for the City of Belleville for over a decade. Sharon works tirelessly on any job that she is tasked with. This was especially evident in her work with the September 11 Memorial Walkway. Almost 6 years ago, Sharon began working with a group of dedicated volunteers to make this memorial a reality. She has spent tireless hours to seek donations, hold fundraisers, and complete whatever was necessary for the memorial. Work was completed this fall on the first phase of the memorial. Sharon's civic nature started well before her work with the city, as she was the driving force in the Jefferson School PTA when her children were young. Sharon's dedication to this community improves the lives of all who live in and visit Belleville.

Jenni Swartz

Jenni Swartz has worked and served children in Belleville for 10years as the volunteer district coordinator for the Kids for Christ ministry which offers after school programs for many of our children. Jenni coordinates the after school programs offered at Union, Franklin, Henry Raab, and Whiteside schools. These programs provide a positive, safe, and loving environment for children after school. She also coordinates the program at Hoyleton Ministries. Jenni is a mentor to many and shows abundant love and kindness to all. She is an example of peace to the children. Her calm and sweet demeanor is contagious. Our community, and world, would benefit greatly if there were more '1enni's" out there!


Tom Wade

Tom Wade is described as a motivator, peacemaker and workhorse. Be it his church,motivating college students, the Shriners, taking children to the hospital in St. Louis, feeding the hungry, organizing and leadingthe Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. raising money for charitable groups, or assisting the disadvantaged with housing,Tom is there as both a leader and a follower. He is always calm, collected, and willing to think outside the box in order to meet challenges with grace and honor. He leads the Men's Group at his church. He lends his talent as a chef to the Shrine annual fundraisingdinner. Tom quietly makes a difference day in our community.


Charles Woodford

Charles Woodford is a friend of Belleville East High School, BTHS District 201, the greater community and the United States of America. Charlie is a World War II Veteran who is active in the academic and athletic lives of the Belleville East Lancers. He founded the Belleville East Athletic Booster Club in 1973 and continues to be an active member. He is a constant presence at football and basketball games. He is a charter member of the Belleville East High School Wall of Fame. He educates students by sharing his WWII experiences with students learning US History. Charlie is a humble American who fought for our freedom and continues to make a difference in his community.

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