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Nominations in for Judson University service award

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  • Rise Jones

    Rise Jones

  • Velma Sept, winner of Elgin's annual Image Awards in 2011, is one of the nominees for the D. Ray Wilson Award, to be presented at the Judson University prayer breakfast.

      Velma Sept, winner of Elgin's annual Image Awards in 2011, is one of the nominees for the D. Ray Wilson Award, to be presented at the Judson University prayer breakfast.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2011

Submitted by Judson University

Judson University announced the nominations for the D. Ray Wilson Award, to be presented at the 2013 Community Prayer Breakfast from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 7, in the Lindner Fitness Center, 1151 N. State St., Elgin.

The D. Ray Wilson Volunteer Service Award is given to the candidate who has contributed to the greater good within the Fox Valley community by voluntarily serving others' physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual needs. This year's nominees are Phyllis E. Folarin, Risé D. Jones, Jeffrey Small, and Velma Sept.

• Phyllis Folarin has volunteered as a board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin, a board member of the United Way of Elgin, and a member of the Elgin Area School District U-46 African American Student Advisory Council. She also has served Elgin Community College in several capacities, including member of the board of trustees; board liaison for the Achieving the Dream Committee; chair of the teaching, learning and student services committee; and chair of the finance committee. Under her leadership at ECC, the college worked with U-46 to develop ECC's award-winning Alliance for College Readiness program, which has become a national model for improving high school graduates to be successful in college. Currently, she serves ECC's Transition Academy, another Alliance for College Readiness initiative. She was also appointed an associate member of the Association of Community College Trustee's Diversity Committee, the ACCT Governance Leadership Institute, and the ACCT Governance and Bylaws Committee. Additionally, Folarian volunteers as a docent at Gail Borden Library during special programs, such as community artist exhibits. She also gave her time and talents to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. She served as the chair of ICCTA Committee, and under her leadership, the committee created a Diversity Award presented to a community college that implements successful practices and programs for historically underrepresented populations. For her ongoing dedication to diversity and civic leadership, Folarin has been honored with numerous awards, including the Elgin Community College Lasting Impact Award, the 1999 Martin Luther King Humanitarian Volunteer Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Education, and the 2003 YWCA Leader Luncheon Racial Justice Award. She was also honored with an Association of Community College Trustees Lifetime Membership. Under her leadership, the Elgin Community College implemented diversity training for all staff members. Additionally, Folarin is the founder and creator of the Black Family Literature Annual Event at the Gail Borden Library, which has grown to welcome more than 4,000 residents.

• Risé D. Jones is the co-founder of Hamilton Wings, an enrichment program for Elgin-area children that uses the arts to promote leadership development and academic readiness of socially and/or economically challenged children. Established in 1997 by Jones and her mother, Ann Jones, Hamilton Wings develops arts-based, high-quality, out-of-school programs that directly link to U-46 goals and learning standards as well as Illinois State Board of Education Standards, utilizing the arts as a vehicle for student success. Dr. Jones is responsible for developing several Hamilton Wings curricula for arts-based student development, including SCORE! Students Creating Opera to Reinforce Education!, through which students create, develop and produce an original opera in nine months with the assistance of professional artists from the Chicago area. Under her leadership, SCORE! has grown to provide more than 140 hours of arts-based, educational workshops to socially and economically challenged youth in 13 schools from U-46. SCORE! is also a multiple-year honoree (2007, 2006, 2005, 2003) by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities Coming Up Taller, distinguishing it as "one of the 50 top after-school and out-of-school arts- and humanities-based programs in the United States." In addition to her 17 years of volunteer leadership with Hamilton Wings, Jones is a member of the African American Student Advisory Commission for U-46. She was also a trustee for Elgin Community College. She has also contributed her own musical talent to numerous charitable organizations. Jones is also a recipient of a grant from the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission for a three-part series titled "Legacies in Song," an adaptation of "An Evening with Ethel Waters."

• Jeffrey Small is a volunteer dedicated to bringing food to the hungry in the Fox Valley area. Small works closely with the Northern Illinois Food Bank to deliver food supplies to local food pantries and soup kitchens, including churches like First United Methodist Church of Elgin and Elgin Community Church. For 20 years, Small has volunteered for the meal program at the church, which feeds 80 to 140 needy people each week. In addition to delivering food to the church program, Small also cooks the meals and supervises volunteers. Small has also been in charge of gathering winter wear for the less fortunate through the church, and this year he led the church to open its doors as a warming center to provide sleeping facilities, food and comfort to those in need during the severe winter. Small has served as the organizer for the U.S. Postal Drive, delivering the canned goods that residents leave by their mailbox for the postal worker to collect. He is also the food coordinator for Love Elgin Day, an outreach that offers aid to Elgin families and individuals who need physical resources and spiritual encouragement.

• Velma Sept has held several positions of leadership in her years as a civic leader. She has been a union steward for 28 years, and also served on the local contract negotiating team at the Elgin Postal Service for the Clerks and Mail-handlers (American Postal Workers Union) every four years during her postal career. Sept has served as a chairwoman of the African American Advisory Council U-46 since 2007, chairwoman of the Boys and Girls Club Program Committee since 2012, financial secretary for the American Gospel Quartet Convention since 2006, treasurer of the Women's Ministry and Missionary Ministry Choir at New Hope Baptist Church since 2005, and New Hope Baptist Church trustee member since 2000, as well as the New Hope Sunday school superintendent since 2008. She also volunteers for several other local committees and organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin, Elgin Circle of Wise Women, African American Advisory Council to U-46 School District, U-46 Educational Foundation, Black Women's Association, Elgin Community Career and College Readiness Committee, Elgin Area Women Connection, Elgin Area Chamber Retention Committee, and the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. She participates in several annual events in the city of Elgin, including Fourth of July festivities, Fox Trot, Art and Soul, Martin Luther King Jr. city celebration, and the Hemmens Family Christmas giveaway. As a member of the American Gospel Quartet Convention for nine years and the Larkin Family of Chicago gospel singing group for 34 years, Velma has helped encourage and uplift the spirit of many people in the community through songs and prayers. Sept has also been the recipient of several awards for her leadership, including the Boys and Girls Club of Elgin Founders Award in 2007, the Quad County Urban League Outstanding Community Service Award in 2008, the American Gospel Quartet Convention Service Award in 2010, the Elgin Police Department Volunteer in 2010, the City of Elgin Volunteer Image Award in 2011, the U-46 School District Volunteer of the Year in 2012, the Elgin Community College Lasting Impact Award in 2013, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Volunteer Award in 2014. She is featured in the book "Looking In, Looking Up: A Year with School District U-46."

Dean R. Hirsch, former CEO of World Vision International, will be the prayer breakfast keynote speaker. Tickets for the event are $18 for individuals. Table sponsorships can be purchased for $350, which includes recognition and a table reservation for eight guests. Register for the event at

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