Faculty & Staff

Exploring Citizenship Series with Dr. Patrice Hess

As part of the ICC Library’s 2015 One Book, One College Program and this year’s selection, March: Book One by John Lewis, the Library is exploring citizenship and what it means to individuals.

The following is an essay written by Patrice Hess, associate dean of online learning. Like all submissions to this essay campaign, the views presented are those of the authors and not necessarily of Illinois Central College.

If you are interested in being a contributor, please contact Michelle Nielsen Ott, Ext. 5617.

This morning, Friday, November 6, I had the opportunity to hear Judith Gethner, Executive Director of Illinois Partners, speak at the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues.  This event is a semi-regular breakfast with members of the East Peoria Chamber in attendance.  This timely and relevant program was given by a speaker representing Illinois Partners, a coalition of Human Service organizations.  Ms. Gethner’s message inspired me to write this guest blog post on citizenship.  Learn more about this organization via its website, http://www.illinoispartners.org/

As Ms. Gethner indicated in her passionate presentation to the business people in attendance at the breakfast, now is the time (as a citizen in your community) to offer your time and support to service organizations.  In the current state of our state, organizations that rely on financial and resource support from our state government are not being paid and supported due to the budget impasse.  Agencies that cannot make payroll, pay on accounts, and keep services running are closing.  Individuals, their families, and their supporters who rely on those services are left without the care they need.  This is affecting quality of life within our state.

What happens next in our state’s budget is likely to be decided by two, maybe three people who finally come to a compromise.  None of us can individually and immediately influence those decisions.  But what we can do is lend our personal help and support to the organizations that are struggling and scrambling while the bureaucracy plays out in Springfield.  Service organizations, non-profit businesses, often rely on volunteerism and donations.  As Ms. Gethner stated, investing in our “human structures” is as important as investing in the infrastructures – roads, bridges, and sanitation – within our towns and cities.  Human service organizations throughout Illinois provide “intervention, prevention, and remediation” needed by you, your families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.  When one structural piece is deficient, the others are negatively affected.  Think about how much value you put on your residence, health care, or educational opportunities and how your life would change if you are unable to pay your rent, mortgage, doctor, or tuition bills.  This is the position human service agencies are being put into by our state.

‘Tis the season of giving.  If you are already giving, think about ways you can give a bit more.  And keep in mind that giving does not just mean a donation.  Your time and unique talents can help advance the mission of any organization.  If you are not sure where to volunteer, contact your local Chamber of Commerce (see Illinois Chamber of Commerce, http://ilchamber.org/illinois-local-regional-chambers/ for a list of members) which will be aware of organizations in need of volunteers.  Give as much or little as you can, as the agency and beneficiaries will be grateful regardless.