Batavia couple named citizens of the year
Britta and Steven McKenna, a Batavia couple known for their extensive involvement in Batavia's Riverwalk and in Scouting, are the 2012 Batavia Citizens of the Year, the Batavia Chamber of Commerce announced Monday.
The annual award recognizes recipients' extraordinary contributions to the community during their lifetime. It's been handed out since 1958, and the McKennas will receive their plaque during the chamber's annual awards dinner Jan. 26.
Roger Breisch, the chamber's executive director, said the breadth of the couple's involvement is astounding and has ranged from involvement in the Batavia Park District to the chamber.
"I've known both of them since shortly after they've moved into town," Breisch said. "They're creative, they're passionate, they're hard working, they love this community."
Ever since the couple moved to Batavia in 1991 from Texas, they've been making contributions to the community spurred by their love for the outdoors. The couple, who are college sweethearts, have been married for 28 years and have two sons, Kyle, 25, and Owen, 23.
Britta McKenna's cause became the Batavia Riverwalk.
As a volunteer member of the riverwalk's committee, she managed volunteers, planned fundraisers and wrote grants for the project, ran its marketing efforts and reached out to the local media.
Once the riverwalk was completed, she made sure it was properly maintained.
She and her husband later joined the board as a member and as treasurer. In 2000, they were founding board members of the Friends of the Riverwalk.
"We had just moved to the community and I had a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old and of course, you want to get to know your neighborhood and your community and you want to reach out and get involved," she said. "We love to do things outdoors — we always have."
Shortly after moving to Batavia, Steven McKenna, an Eagle Scout, started a Cub Scout pack of 10 boys based out of Holy Cross Catholic Church in 1992. While there were Cub Scout packs established in the grade schools, there weren't any at the church, he said. He wanted the pack to have a church connection.
"The Boy Scouts were always an important thing for me and the community," he said. "Just being able to help the youth develop is a thing very rewarding for me."
He served in a leadership role in Scouting through 2011 and was also the finance chair for Three Fires District Council.
As one spouse got involved in something, the other one usually followed.
Steve McKenna said he was humbled to win the award, but also a bit embarrassed.
"We're not ... ones to seek out recognition," he said. "I like to do what we do and contribute and celebrate success in the community and move on to the next adventure."
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