Citizens of Character
Companies of Character


The Third Annual

Community of Character 2010 Honorees

Thirteen people were honored in 2010 at the third 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.


Shon Parsons is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Shon Parsons - Elder in the church, taught classes, helped with an archery program on Sunday afternoons and tutored at Union School among many other volunteer activities

Shon Parsons, a special honoree, would have been 38 this weekend, but he died July 5 from myelodysplastic syndrome, cutting short a life that already was long on service and volunteerism, some of the attributes that the nonprofit BASIC group strives to promote.
Patty Beshears is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree

Patty Beshears - Para-professional at West Junior High School

She works with children who probably have made some poor decisions in life and need some hope, said West Principal Pam Knobeloch.  "She will do anything for us here," Knobeloch said. "She works with kids who often are difficult, and she takes them into her heart."

She is well known for donating time and effort to work for children and their welfare. She has been with the agency since 1980 and has built it into a group serving almost 1,000 children.  She is a member of the Belleville Rotary Club and has served on a large number of boards of agencies, as well as on regional, state and national advisory councils.

Barbara Cempura is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Barbara Cempura - President/CEO Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois

Barb Cempura is one of the most dedicated individuals in our community. Barb was there 30 years ago when what has become Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois started and she is still President/CEO today. Literally thousands of young people have been positively impacted because of the mentoring excellence provided by this organization. [Read More]
Daniela Day is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Daniela Day - Volunteer with the East Belleville YMCA

Kari Lenz, of the YMCA, said people there refer to Day and her family as Team Day.

"She is a military spouse who sometimes brings in her husband and two sets of twins to help with projects," Lenz said. "As head of our food committee, she helped us save thousands of dollars with our playground project. She helped serve breakfast and lunch to 189 volunteers on two days and helps at other events, as well."

Fran Hager is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Fran Hager - Treasurer at Turkey Hill Grange near Belleville

"You wouldn't find someone more adept than her," said David Donley, a fellow Grange member. "She is well-organized and does a lot of work for the Grange. She takes good care of our barbecue we hold every Thursday from May through October."  From jelly making, to peeling potatoes to working with the drama group, she doesn't know how to say "no," he said.

Dean Hardt is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Dean Hardt - Member of the St. Clair County West Rotary Club

"He gets all the supplies for Chili Day," said Kathy Hartmann, a fellow club member. "He helped us move a library full of books to Belize. He helped box up everything, drove it to Florida, and shipped it to Belize with the help of his company, Gerold Moving and Warehousing Co. Any time there is something that needs to be done, he is right there."
Charlie Cramer is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Charlie Kramer - Manager of Community Kindness Resale Shoppe in Belleville

"He started the shop back in 1995, so he has been at it for about 15 years," said the Rev. Darrell Coons, whose organization helps fire victims and benefits from Kramer's efforts. "He's there at least six days a week. It's strictly voluntary, and the proceeds go to 16 different nonprofits to help other people. He helps out wherever he can."
John Laker is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree John Laker - President of Belleville Ecumenical Area Caring for our Neighbors

Retired USAF MSgt Lennell Neely coordinated volunteers for auction runners, escorts for hospice, March of Dimes fundraisers, and Paint the Town. He created the mentoring program for Lovejoy School and a pen pay program to support deployed troops. He organized efforts to give students Christmas giveaways.
Ed Langen is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Ed Langen - Principal at Abraham Lincoln School

"... He is a person of great integrity -- what he believes is what he does, always," said Amanda Guinn, program director for Belleville AmeriCorps, which places members at Abraham Lincoln. "He is passionate about youth and can be seen in the shadows doing everything possible to empower youth, from volunteering to work with teens at youth group, to helping families in need above and beyond what his job description dictates."

Joan McKay is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Joan McKay - Business manager and bookkeeper at Belle Valley District 119

As the district has been working to build a new school and trying to save as much money as possible, McKay wrote for a grant that got the district $36,000 worth of desks and student chairs.

"You never see her on the front line," said the district's superintendent, Louis Obernuefemann. "Her name is never mentioned, and she constantly does this for the good of the children."

Molly Mernick is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Molly Mernick - Social studies teacher at Belleville West High School

Mernick coordinates her school's participation in the BASIC Initiative, she founded the Belleville Running Club, she leads student groups, such as the school's swim team and gospel choir, and she coordinates activities for the homecoming court.

Belleville West Principal Bob Dahm said, "What makes her special is her ability to connect with our students and assist them with making their learning relative to their lives, without losing focus that they're all members of a larger community, that we all have responsibilities to make our community a better place to live."
Jerry Messick is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Jerry Messick - Director of the Community Interfaith Food Pantry in Belleville

Messick, a volunteer, spearheaded moving the food pantry operation from one at his church, St. Paul's United Church of Christ, to an interfaith one that allowed for centralization of the effort among several churches and an efficient way to address hunger.

"He doesn't have to, but he's chosen to invest himself," said Drew Kramer, pastor at St. Paul's. "He works harder at this than most people work at their regular jobs."

Lyleen Stewart is a 2010 Community of Character Honoree Lyleen Stewart - Volunteer at St. Matthew's United Methodist Church

Stewart coordinates the parish's group of nurses, who assist at worship services and other activities, to help anyone who might need medical attention. She also makes sure someone from the church visits those who are hospitalized or in nursing homes or just going through a period of grief.

"A lot of times, Lyleen not only sees these things are getting done, but also takes a lot of responsibility for calling and visiting, as well," said St. Matthew's Pastor Larry Patton.

Nominate a Person You Feel Exhibit the Characteristics of the BASIC Initiative