More than 325 volunteers and civic leaders gathered Wednesday morning for Judson University's annual Community Prayer Breakfast at its Elgin campus.
The university honored Dr. Risé D. Jones, co-founder of Hamilton Wings, with the 2014 D. Ray Wilson Volunteer Service Award.
Other nominees included Jeffrey Small, Velma Sept, and Dr. Phyllis E. Folarin.
The 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. It is named after Wilson, a renowned Fox Valley civic leader and founder of the prayer breakfast.
Mary Rees Freeman, the 2013 D. Ray Wilson Award winner, announced Jones as this year's recipient.
"Dr. Jones has been described by friends and colleagues as tireless, determined and passionate about meeting the ever increasing needs of Elgin's underserved youth," Freeman said in a news release.
"It is said that children flock to this incredible volunteer to soak up her knowledge, her passion for arts education, her love and affection, and most importantly, her desire for them to succeed in life."
Hamilton Wings is 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.
Jones helped develop award-winning curriculum for Hamilton Wings -- SCORE! (Students Creating Opera to Reinforce Education!) -- through which students create, develop and produce an original opera in nine months with the help of professional artists from the Chicago area.
The program provides more than 140 hours of arts-based, educational workshops to socially and economically challenged students in 13 schools within Elgin Area School District U-46.
Dean Hirsch, former CEO of World Vision International, was the keynote speaker at the prayer breakfast. World Vision's development and advocacy programs benefit more than 3.6 million children, their families and communities worldwide.
Hirsch shared stories from his work with World Vision in remote areas where he said he witnessed people of faith working together to meet community needs.