2023 Hometown Heroes Magazine

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2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 3 Table of Contents 06: Tillie Griffin Newhouse 07: Gene McDonald 08: Tim Searby 12: Fraternal Order of Eagles 2708 18: Elaine Aue 22: Jeff Cooper 30: Memorial Behavioral Health 38: John Guzzardo

Page 4 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 What is a hero? How does one become a hero? Does every hero set a goal to someday be acclaimed as such? Or do they vow to do what is right, what is honest, what is noble, what is true, and in the end find themselves to be heroes in the eyes of others? When the LDN staff were discussing who our local heroes are, the comment that was made was that those who are truly heroes may not believe that they are. They are the ones who don’t do great things for great accolades, they are those who do what needs done, then go on about their lives not thinking about the real impact their deeds and actions may have on others. For some heroes, they are doing what they are led to do by their God, by their heart, by their sense of humanity. Their mission and goal in life is not to receive rewards on earth but rather in Heaven. A tribute to ordinary people doing extraordinary things For others, they are doing what they are doing because they know that if they don’t perhaps no one will. In this edition of the Lincoln Daily News Hometown Heroes online magazine, you will find examples of all these cases. The stories we tell you this year are about people and organizations who don’t spend their days thinking about being a hero. They don’t dream in their sleep of others applauding them, cheering them on or even thanking them for the things they have done. And, for some, while they may know that they are doing their best to be a good person, helpful and kind, they may not even realize how highly they are regarded by others. They may not know that in the eyes of their family, friends, colleagues, or the people they serve, they are more than good, they are heroes. Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 5 What is a hero? While you won’t find it in Webster’s, we define heroes as ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make our world a better place. As we publish this magazine annually, we at LDN are grateful for those people who answer the calls and make our community better. And all we can say is thank you and God bless our Hometown Heroes. The staff and stringers at Lincoln Daily News

Page 6 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 By Alice Doehring I, Alice Doehring, was in Vienna, Austria sightseeing one day. I stepped off the curb to take a picture of the Opera House. A noiseless tram was coming to the left of me that I did not see or hear. My friend, Tillie Griffin Newhouse, grabbed my arm and pulled me up to the sidewalk. As I turned to the left, when she grabbed me, I saw the conductor’s face reacting to thinking he was going to hit me. I was saved! I was shook up after my miss from death that day, but I pulled myself together and we continued sightseeing. I shared this news with my and Tillie’s church, Jefferson Street Christian Church, one Sunday before Thanksgiving 2011, and I wanted to share it with you, Lincoln Daily News. Tillie’s a true hero! We’ve been friends for ages, go to the same church, and we’re both former teachers in Logan County. Thank you for considering my hero for your website. Reader Submission: My good friend became my hero when she literally saved my life!

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 7 Reader Submission: How lessons learned from my high school coach literally saved my life By Gary Purdue I left Lincoln nearly 50 years ago but have stayed in touch with the community through the LDN. When I realized the request for your HOMETOWN HERO, I knew I had to submit this name. While in Lincoln Community High School, I had the opportunity to be coached by him. He always told us we played the game for several reasons: 1. To understand the game. 2. Learn how to work with others. 3. Learn to compete and win. 4. Carry over value to your personal life. 5. Stay in shape. Over my business career I have followed these ideas and they have made my dreams come true. Living in the corporate world each [point] made me a success. I had the winning attitude while also working with others who may not share the same goals. He made me a success. Yet one of his other idioms left a mark on me that I share with all. On May 15, 2009, I was preparing for a race. I knew I was in great physical condition. Realizing something was wrong that morning I decided to go to the hospital. A cardiologist had a different opinion from mine, and I was immediately being prepared for a quadruple bypass. I had the widow maker. Three days later as I was being processed out the doctor told me and made it clear, "if you were not in such great shape, you would be dead." The coach's words from 40 years ago rang true. Without his caring and leadership, I would be dead. After 40 years he was still taking care of one of his athletes. I had the opportunity to touch base with the coach shortly after my surgery to tell him how much I appreciate what he had done for me. I received a letter in return. and still read it. He is gone now but I still think about him. I wish he would have met my family as he played such a huge part of my life. My HOMETOWN HERO... Is Coach Gene McDonald. Coach Gene McDonald and wife Toni soon after winning the BIG 12 football championship in 1975. The photo was provided by Coach McDonald’s son Andy.

Page 8 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 By Dr. John Castelein In every town there are those magnetic personalities that seem to hold a community together through thick and thin. We refer to those local leaders as “Hometown Heroes” and I wish to nominate Tim Searby as such a hero! Every person that I contacted enthusiastically seconded this nomination! Dr. Paul Boatman says of Tim that he is one of the most effective “bridgepeople” he has ever met: “His bridging brings community, church, business, and performance together as a healthier and more diverse entity. Tim is a collegial-style leader who has been willing to serve in such varied roles as minister, businessman, actor, director.” Dr. Boatman says Tim is a genuine “Man for All Seasons” (quoting the title of a famous 1966 play). My nomination for Hometown Hero: Tim Searby, A Man for all Seasons Tim sometimes jokes that he grew up in a prison. The reason is because the prison in Albion, where his father was sheriff, was annexed to their family home. Dinelle Frankland, who is also from Albion, has nothing but the highest praise for Tim as her mentor and cheerleader! Growing up in a prison or not, Tim is, without a doubt, one of the freest men I have ever met: free in his kindness, free in his smiles, free in his services rendered, and free in his devotion to church and community! He has liberated so many people here in Lincoln and Logan County to discover their musical, theatrical, spiritual, and leadership talents! Testimonials as to Tim’s versatility and influence have come to me from every segment of our population. Tim first came to Lincoln in 1970 to study music and drama under his beloved mentor, David Hargrove. He learned singing and directing from observing Mr. Hargrove’s leadership in The Master’s Men and The Restoration Players (in the Christian school’s drama department).Vera Thomas remembers that it was there that she first became acquainted with Tim. Starting already in his college years, Tim was performing in and directing plays and musicals Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 9 at the Christian College and in the Lincoln Community Theater (LCT, where he has served on the board for many years). Notable plays in Tim’s repertoire are Fiddler on the Roof, Godspell, Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and I Do, I Do (at the opening of the Maple Club)! Tim became married to his fantastic partner, Lorna (now, for 48 years)! According to how he tells the story of seeing Lorna for the first time, it was love at first sight for him, and, indeed, they look glowing in their wedding pictures. I noticed that Tim bore a striking resemblance to the young Paul Newman in those pictures! In an hour-long interview I had with the irrepressible Gossetts (Bill and Jean), they repeatedly emphasized to me that Tim has been a leading visionary for stage performance in Lincoln by his integrity, credibility, and winsome personality. He has recruited many in our county, trained them, and motivated them to entertain the community. Bill and Jean credit much of the appeal of the shows and of the number of local actors and singers to Tim’s joyful personality! In 1977, Tim and Lorna moved back to Lincoln from Windsor, IL. Tim and Lorna had gone to Windsor after college to work in a church with the music and the youth. Tim returned to Lincoln to work as chaplain under Jim Emerson at the Christian Village. However, after 6 months, Tim was promoted to become administrator of the facility. With obvious pride and joy, he speaks in glowing terms of the staff he worked with for 23 years! From 2000 to 2010, while Tim was on staff at Lincoln Christian Church, I first met Tim. It was there that both Vera Thomas (as church secretary) and I (as preaching minister) worked closely, for some years, with Tim. Also working closely with Tim at that time was the lead minister of the Christian Church, Tom Gerdts. Both Tom and Tim excelled in providing comforting and beautiful memorial services for the community. Thinking back on the many years that Tim has preached and sung at Christian funerals, Dr. Boatman has written: “For funerals of my own loved ones I have asked Tim to seek out some not-so-familiar pieces, which he delivered with excellence and good-taste. In doing so he provides a sensitive touch of music that helps bereaved families to cope with tragic loss.” In fact, thinking back on those years of serving the Lincoln community together, Tom Gerdts says he sometimes wondered if Tim had a clone since he was popping up in so many leadership roles! In 2010, Tim became the Executive Director of Castle Manor. His extraordinary love and caring for the elderly, which is his life’s passion, and one of his outstanding characteristics, originates from his grandmother and grandpa, Edna and August Hering. With obvious emotion, Tim told how his grandparents instilled this love for the elderly in him and Mark, the brother he is closest to. Kay Dobson commented that Tim has been one of the easiest conductors for her to work with. She also observed that Tim knew how to encourage people to become even better than they would have imagined. Linda Storm, one of Tim’s closest friends, who also regularly plays the piano or organ with him, says: “Tim is one of those rare people who see things in others that they may not see in themselves. Continued --

Page 10 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Then, he sets about connecting people to best use their giftedness and interests. The end result always reminds us that we are better when working together for a common goal! Brandon Davis, who has worked closely with Tim in theatrical performances, both in the church and in LCT, observes: “He approaches every show, sketch or song with integrity and pure joy. He has also instilled the importance of creating a loving community with fellow cast & crew members. The typical theater drama is always at a minimum whenever Tim is at the helm.” Throughout all this time, we have continued to observe his quiet, persistent, dependable leadership in all these important organizations in our community. He has also directed LAMS, a community choir, for nine years. Dr. Boatman became a member of LAMS and described Tim’s leadership this way: “Through leading by instructing, guiding, running over segments repeatedly, demonstrating, coaxing, and cajoling Tim repeatedly produced a choir performance that bridged genres from Classical to Pop to Broadway to Ethnic to Religious!” However, following a very serious episode with Covid, that brought him near death, Tim decided to retire from LAMS and is now planning trips and adventures with Lorna. The new leader of LAMS is Dinelle Frankland, part of Tim’s legacy to the community. Featuring high in the Searbys’ plans are his son and daughter. Emmary (married to Aaron) is beloved throughout our community and church. Jason (married to Robin) lives in New Albany, IN, and has made a remarkable recovery from a very critical surgery for Crohn’s Disease. You should have seen the pride in Tim’s eyes as he lists his three grandchildren: Owen, Eli, and Ella! So many enjoyable evenings of theater plays, so many inspiring worship experiences, all performed by local talent, are due to his vision and encouragement! Tim’s own singing talent, as well as his skills at the piano and the organ, continue to bring joy and delight to so many in Logan County! In addition, many families in Logan County, like Tom and Karen Gerdts, remember with gratitude the influence that Tim and Lorna have had on their children and family! Tim and his wonderful wife have been infusing our town with character, laughter, culture, and deeply rooted Christian values for many years. Despite his many achievements and accomplishments over so many years, Tim remains a caring, humble servant. When I asked him if I could nominate him and interview him, he asked for an hour to think it over. BTW, Dinelle Frankland had warned me that Tim is a giver who always thinks of others more highly than himself. Within that requested hour, however, Lorna called me and said she’d love for me to nominate him, but it would be hard for him personally to give me permission! Everyone who reflected on Tim and Lorna’s impact on our community has commented on the obvious joy in living that God has instilled in this wonderful couple! Tim, you are one of the major reasons that our group of men gathers weekly at Mama’s Café: we are enchanted by your stories, your infectious laughs, and the obvious joy in living under God’s providence that your presence invites us to!

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Page 12 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 By Jeff Wyles I grew up at the Eagles Lodge. Some of my earliest memories are of being in that building. My dad taught me how to count change while serving food and drinks to Bingo players. I took such pride in being able to pull a quarter, dime and nickel from a register to make 40 cents. A man called “Penrod” gave me my first set of darts. They were yellow and black. I called them my bumble bees and I would practice while the men had their meeting. I bobbed for apples on Halloween. I recall the burn of getting water up my nose. I danced at my parents’ wedding. There are pictures. I sang karaoke after putting in days of hard work at the annual BBQ. I was terrified, so they passed around a hat, and I got paid to sing Hotel California. I was given more love, kindness and support than any child could want by people who had no reason to do so. Years later I would turn 21. Soon after that I would be an official member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. I bought my first beer there. I spent my weekends there. I had a job where I was regularly complimented on my ability to count money. I was decent at darts and even played for the Eagles’ league team at one point. I was in a band that was just starting to book real venues. Music has defined the past 20 plus years of my life. Most importantly, the Eagles taught me about giving and charity. Today I look back on those memories and I’m grateful. Continued -- People Helping People

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 13 One of the mottoes the organization uses is “People helping people.” My life is very much a small-scale representation of that idea. The work done by The Eagles, however, is much greater and has a much larger impact than a bunch of personal memories. The Fraternal Order of Eagles was founded in 1898. According to the Grand Aerie website the organization donates more than $10 million a year to local communities,fundraisers, and charities. The club also has eight charities of its own including kidney, heart, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injury funds as well as the Jimmy Durante Children’s Fund, a memorial foundation and a Golden Eagle fund. The organization was instrumental in founding Mother’s Day. Many will give Anna Jarvis the credit, but it is documented that Eagles Past Worthy President Frank E. Hering made a public plea for a “national day to honor our mothers” on February 7th, 1904. In 1985 The Eagles became the first organization to top $1 million in donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In 2008 they committed $25 million to the University of Iowa to fund the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center which opened in 2014. Prominent members of the Eagles include Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Tony Stewart, Billy Ray Cyrus and Lee Greenwood. The Eagles Auxiliary boasts Bess Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt and Susan Wagner. The historical, social and charitable footprint of the Eagles on a national level cannot be denied. With such a large organization it can be easy to look past the work they do right in their local communities. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a small sample of the work that Eagles members do in and around Lincoln. I would like to take this chance to shine a brief spotlight on a group of heroes I am proud to call brothers and sisters. For the fiscal year of 2022-2023 the Eagles Aerie sent $2,400 to the National Grand Aerie to be spread among the eight previously mentioned charities. Another $650 was sent to local charities, organizations and sports teams. These might include the D.A.R.E. program, The Logan County Humane Society, youth sports sponsorships and many more. Each week requests are received for donations of $25 or $50. These requests are presented to members and if it receives a favorable vote the funds are donated. It is rare a request is denied. The Veteran’s Benefit has become an annual event for the club. Shirley Buchanan has been the chairwoman of the event for over a decade. Tammy Elam, Angie Bramwell, Mike Buchanan, Guy Carter, Shari Carter, Jami May, Brett Bacon, Troy Singleton, Verl Prather and so many others have been a part of the event over the years. Over the last 13 years tens of thousands of dollars have been raised and distributed to veteran based charities in Continued --

Page 14 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 the area. One of those charities provides honor flights for veterans to visit memorials and locations they otherwise would not get to see. Another helps provide dogs to veterans. Some assist in healthcare and everyday life. In 2022, the benefit raised and distributed $5,700. In 2023, $9,746 was donated to Central Illinois Veterans Commission (CIVC) to be used towards the Homes for Veterans Project. The Eagles Lodge is always ready to help their own as well. When a member was diagnosed with brain cancer the club came together with friends, family and their employer to put together an enormous fundraiser. This money aided with bills, travel expenses back and forth to St. Louis, groceries, family care, and the cost of everyday life that is so easily taken for granted when you are healthy. Other Eagles clubs from across the country also began sending in checks and donations. Another member would fall ill and spend a significant amount of time in the hospital unable to work. Once again, the Eagles came together with friends, coworkers, and kindhearted helpers to raise the funds to allow them to focus on getting better. That can be hard to do when bills are piling up and paychecks aren’t. Over the past three years the club has donated over $55,000 to assist with the healthcare of ill members. While the Eagles Aerie focuses heavily on club charities, events and the business of the organization, the Eagles Auxiliary works a bit differently. They still donate to club charities and events as well as the small local requests the men do, but in addition, auxiliary members can choose a charity they would like to work for. In recent years Angie Bramwell has raised money for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. When advertising she uses the hashtag #FlakoStrong. Angie was inspired to take on this project after the passing of Greg “Flako” Feldman. A couple of times each year Angie puts together a mountain oyster dinner. They taste fine with ketchup. She always has drawings and a lottery tree raffle as well. This past year Angie raised $2,800 in honor of Flako for the V Foundation. Last, but certainly not least, is Sheila Jones. In all honesty, she’s the inspiration for this piece. Sheila has been raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for at least 15 years, maybe 20. Unfortunately, the records that could be documented only went back to 2009. Sheila has used several ways to raise money and these days she has Sunday brunches. There are eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes and more. Connie Karas makes the best cinnamon rolls in the world. There’s always a 50/50 or raffle of some kind. On occasion Sheila hires an Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 15 acoustic duo to play some music afterwards. She does not reimburse herself for the cost of any of it. Since 2009 Sheila has donated $29,000 to St. Jude. She was considering giving up her charity work this year but has been motivated to continue. Here’s to $30,000 and beyond! I grew up at the Eagles Lodge. I am now 43 years old and there isn’t a part of my life that doesn’t include memories of the place. As a child I was ignorant to the work these men and women were doing. To the good they were doing. As an adult I am honored to be a part of it. As a child I was so excited just to be acknowledged by my dad’s friends. As an adult I now realize that I was, and I still am, surrounded by heroes.

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Page 18 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Selfless and giving help define By Angela Reiners Elaine Aue is a person that believes in giving back to her community as her work around the community shows. Aue opened a Culvers franchise in Lincoln in 2007. Culvers offers fundraising opportunities to various organizations by raising money for special causes. These have included fundraising events for the Relay for Life, local schools, churches, the Oasis Senior Center, first responders. For these events, the organizations receive ten percent of the sales that afternoon and evening. On a website with history about the first Culvers restaurant, Craig Culver said he encourages all franchisees to be active in their community. Aue has definitely done that over the years. In a June 11, 2013, Lincoln Daily News article about a Relay for Life fundraising event, Aue said, “we’re proud to call Lincoln home, and doing our part to help just feels right…We strive to make a difference in the community we share with so many others, and working with Relay for Life of Logan County allows us to help support individuals and families in our area.” Elaine Aue as a 2023 Hometown hero As the article said, “Culver’s support of Relay for Life is just part of their dedication to giving back to the community. From Culver’s founders to each locally owned and operated restaurant, each franchise partner and team member understands the importance of serving those in need.” Tonita Reifsteck, Aue’s mother, explains some of Aue’s motivations for helping others. Reifsteck said Aue was doing work for the community even in her youth. The Reifsteck family moved to Lincoln in September 1969 and the children went to Central School, Lincoln Junior High School and Lincoln Community High School. Elaine was involved in various school activities such as singing in chorus, playing the violin in the orchestra and playing sports, especially volleyball and baseball. In addition, Aue was active in her church’s youth program, participated in 4-H and was an Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital candystriper. As Reifsteck said, the entire family was expected to support the community they lived in so that included CROP walk and other interdenominational and community programs. Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 19 Among Aue’s varied employments, her first job was at Bob’s Roast Beef. When the family left Lincoln for a period of time starting in 1982, Aue remained, so she has been a Lincoln resident for almost 54 years. When Aue opened Culvers, she followed Lincoln IGA’s Charlie Lee’s lead of giving back to the community through fundraising events for organizations. One community event Aue supported was the Relay for Life for cancer. When Reifsteck was survivor Chair for the Relay, Culvers had a fundraiser for the event. Reifsteck’s team and others worked in shifts to make Aue’s effort generate more funds. Continued -- Another of Aue’s motivations for giving back has to do with her late sister, Lucinda Reifsteck, who was in an automobile accident on Valentine’s Day morning in 1985 at the young age of 24. Lucinda was in a coma for a year after the accident and was unable to walk or talk for the remaining 27 years of her life. Tonita Reifsteck said Elaine lost her sister twice, once with a car accident that left her paralyzed and the other time when her sister died. On April 8, 2017, Culvers held a fundraising event for Stacy Peacock, who had been injured in an accident in October 2016 that left her paralyzed from the chest down. For this event, Aue chose to donate 100 percent of the sales. Teena Lowery’s 2017 interview with Aue for a Lincoln Daily News article about the fundraiser revealed Aue’s reasons. Aue said she first saw news of Peacock’s accident in a paper and then somebody brought in a flyer to Culver’s and asked for a donation. She said, “it kind of hit home because of my sister’s accident many years ago. I know what it’s like...It hits home. It hit hard.”

Page 20 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 In 2021, Devan Duncheon became part owner of Culver’s after working at the restaurant since 2008. Duncheon said, “Elaine, from the beginning, has set a standard of getting to know each and every team member, to making sure to specifically tell each team member hello at the beginning of their shift and to tell them each individually goodbye.” As Duncheon said, “we get the privilege of hiring, oftentimes, young adults with no prior work experience and watching them grow not only in the work environment but in their personal lives as well. There is nothing better than when a former team member walks back in for a meal and you get to catch up on each other’s lives.” Having worked with Elaine since age 16, Duncheon said, “it really was an inspiration to see not only a successful business being built up from the bottom, but to see an independent woman doing it. Overall, I can’t pinpoint exact instances that were memorable, but watching our team members grow with the business has been exciting.” For Duncheon, “the most memorable fundraising events are those that the Lincoln community really shows up for! Often times, people want to focus on the negative, but working at, and now being a co-owner of Culver’s, it really makes it hard to see anything but positives with our community.” She said,” We have quite a few organizations that do monthly fundraisers, and building those relationships with the volunteers that are there consistently is one of my favorite times.” A caring nature is one of Aue’s most outstanding traits. As Reifsteck said, whether it be family, friend or some stranger down on their luck, whether it be health [issues] or a life situation “through no fault of their own,” Aue will be there however she can help. Aue’s family sees her as a super daughter, terrific sister and mother and true friend to many, and also very humble. Though Aue’s priority now is her two granddaughters, she also finds time to volunteer at places like the Logan County Humane Society. With all the ways Aue has cared for and helped people over the years, selflessness would be another good description of her. She has given so much to the community and is very deserving of the hometown hero title.

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Page 22 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Retired LCHS TeacherJeff Cooper

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 23 By Devyn Fry Heroes don’t always wear capes and masks, but they almost always receive a nickname. Jeff Cooper was often dubbed “Coop” by his students through the years at Lincoln Community High School. He is known to be a fan favorite at the school, with many graduates listing him as their favorite teacher or current students dressing up as him during “Spirit Week.” Whether he was at the front of the classroom or out on the field, everyone knew him as someone who would always assist in any way that he could. Mr. Cooper would give the shirt off of his back to someone any given day- though he might eventually offer to take them clothes shopping! – his “OpenDoor” policy and concern for his students make him a hero in many of their eyes After 23 years at LCHS, Mr. Cooper has made the heavy-hearted, difficult decision to retire. This news was such a shock to me, and to all of the friends that I shared it with. While it is truly sad that future students will not have the opportunity to be a part of his classroom, Mr. Cooper deserves the chance to relax and spend all of his time doing what he loves with those closest to him, whether it be volunteering at community events, family visits, catching crappie, or hosting fish fries. Before teaching, Mr. Cooper was a long-time respiratory therapist. He would work the night shift, and by day take care of his young family. Simultaneously, he managed to receive a bachelor’s in teaching. Mrs. Cooper recalled that Mr. Cooper’s call to teaching came in his thirties, and during his time searching for a teaching position, he was adamant that they had to live in and be a part of the community where he taught. Eventually, Mr. Cooper started off at LCHS as a coach in 1999 first with the baseball team, and later with the football and softball teams. Whilst coaching softball, he had the opportunity to work with his three daughters, Melyssa, Meghan, and Madalyn which was an experience of a lifetime. After about 15 years of coaching, he resigned with an aching yet knowing heart. Mr. Cooper wanted to spend more time with Continued --

Page 24 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 his girls and his wife now of over 30 years, Valerie. He couldn’t stay away from his passion for coaching and sports entirely; Mr. Cooper still volunteers to referee football and umpire fast pitch softball games to this day! He remained teaching government and history through the 2023 school year, promoting teamwork in class as he once did on the field. He has been a very active member in the Hoi Crappie Club, participating in tournaments for several years, as well as going fishing with his family (especially his grandson), past students, and friends. He is always more than willing to welcome others into his home. The Cooper’s also lend a helping hand in many community and student fundraising events by volunteering their time or donating to the cause. Back in the summer of 2017, Mr. Cooper was one of the cooks that prepared 1,000 sausage patties for the Railsplitter Football Breakfast! Additionally, for several years they owned a Christmas Tree farm. Mrs. Cooper shared that often, Mr. Cooper would spend all summer long preparing the trees for winter, just so families could pick out their special one. Now, you may find him mowing his neighbor’s lawns or hosting fish fries with previous students and family. As a teacher, Mr. Cooper often shared stories about his dad, fishing trips, and experiences/ lessons he learned as a father. Class discussions would start in the subject matter, and almost always include a life lesson. He was always open to new perspectives, ideas, and opinions from his class. Students enjoyed asking Mr. Cooper about his day and his life, and he would consistently tell his tales. I have fond memories of Mr. Cooper halting discussions because of someone's demeanor or a comment they made and turning the conversation into one about reasons to work hard, love unconditionally, and stand up for yourself. He always told us that we were tough, to keep our heads up, and that we were gifted and talented in whatever our interests were. Mrs. Cooper told me in our interview that Mr. Cooper’s students quickly became an extension of his family, which matches up with the interviewed students’ feelings. Many students were actually quite excited to talk to me about Mr. Cooper, and although I had never written an article for the paper before, I knew this had to be my first one. While not every student is going to like a teacher, the chosen students (and most of the ones I knew) had nothing but positivity to detail. Orion Decker is a former student through Mr. Cooper’s ‘American Government’ class. She recalls, “There was a point in time I didn't think I was good enough to be a nurse, but Mr. Cooper always told me I could do it and more. He always told me I had the heart for nursing and that I should believe in myself. Him saying that has stuck with me today and I remember it every time I'm in a rough spot. He made me believe I could accomplish my dreams!” Orion now is pursuing her nursing dreams through Illinois State University. Liam Luken reminisced on a particularly favorite moment of his from his Civics class. “At the very end of my senior year, the last time I had class with him, he showed a video titled "wear sunscreen," which was (essentially) a video telling people to take care of themselves. He cried near the end of it, telling us how much he genuinely cared for all of us and the class of '21.” Past student Katie Hackwith had much love to share in her interview. She wrote, “Coop saw the potential in everyone. He strove to Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 25 see his students doing well, growing in and out of the classroom. He did his best in being equally attentive to each one of his students, supporting everyone’s lives, interests and careers despite their opinions of his class. He’s a very open minded and caring person, and much more than just a teacher. He wanted to commission me for a painting in trade for a nice portfolio case for college because he knew my parents weren’t supporting me with supplies (or at all financially). He always had food for me at the beginning of class because I was so thin. Coop's the only teacher I've felt safe enough to talk to about my life at home and know I wouldn't be judged. He gave students the room to have a break mentally in his class if it was needed. If he noticed a student falling asleep or not paying attention, instead of scolding them, he would make a lighthearted joke then offer a hand to listen Continued --

Page 26 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 and help where he could. He made an effort to work with and understand the student’s life and background, compromising on the due dates of assignments and allowing them the chance to rest. Students weren’t afraid to communicate or be open with him; he was a safe space for a great deal of them. I’ve seen students who were hated by other teachers and looked at as “lost-cause dropouts” completely turn around when they ended up with Mr. Cooper. He wanted to understand and uplift them, not give up on them. Those students started getting higher grades in his class, participated, and took tests on time. He’s been a shining light in so many people’s lives, and for him to burn so strong and for so long truly shows how amazing and dedicated of a man he is. If every teacher in the US Education System showed the care and understanding he had, lights would be a lot brighter all over the world.” These students were not the only ones reached by him, though. Upon getting in touch with LCHS through social media, I found out that a post regarding the 2023 graduates and retiring staff reached almost 12,000 people, “mostly due to the photo of Mr. Cooper.” With over 330 positive reactions on photos in respect to Mr. Cooper, the comments were littered with congratulations and thanks to him for being an amazing teacher. On individual shares of the post, many people referred to him as the best teacher they had ever had, their inspiration, and reminisced on the impact he has had in their lives. Mr. Cooper loves when former students make efforts to keep in touch, and looks forward to what may come with his retirement. In his last few weeks at the high school, Mr. Cooper carefully packed up a room full of many memories. Cards, artwork, and photos from his students were on display all over the classroom and on his desk. Mr. Cooper left with organized boxes and binders of their gifts. If the note or artwork from the student didn’t have a full name or year with it, Mr. Cooper found their school photo to put with their piece. He was very excited to show the binders and boxes that remained to me upon our first visit since my graduation in 2021. My favorite piece in his collection was a note from his wife. Up until his last day of work, it remained in his desk as it had always been for the last 23 years. Written were her warm wishes for his “first day in class.” Mr. Cooper stated that at first his goals as a teacher were to survive, and then he wanted to earn his students’ respect, be remembered as a good teacher, and prepare them for a life after high school. He was very certain in saying that, “I will miss all the smiles more than anything.” I have so many stories I could tell about Mr. Cooper. I’m tearing up knowing I won’t get to spend an hour a day, five days a week in his class anymore. In my recent visit, I left with five hugs and a promise of crappie filets and a lesson on how to prepare them. I know he had many favorite students, and I was so happy to know that I got to be one of them. He had a closet with nice shirts and ties for students to borrow if they needed professional attire for class presentations. Mr. Cooper had a drawer in the file cabinet behind his desk dedicated to snacks and water bottles for the students. I got to go up and get what I needed from the drawer anytime I needed it. Every year the first prompt for our individual binders was to write about ourselves: our lives, interests, goals, and dreams. He truly wanted to get to know all of his many students as thoroughly as he could. I had my own intensive problems, and Mr. Cooper always let me go to the Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 27 counselor’s office during his class- even if it happened multiple days a week. On the days I didn’t or couldn’t go, we would talk instead. I was always reassured by him and told how talented and smart of a kid I was. In fact, being the loving jokester he is, Mr. Cooper would routinely poke fun at us then follow with, “Hey, you know I’m just kiddin’, right? I love you man. You don’t hate me, do ya’?” I identify with many others in saying that I genuinely would not have survived this long without him taking the role of a mentor and guide in my life. I am so thankful that Mr. Cooper was and is a part of my life. I hope that now that I have graduated, I get to be more than a former student: a friend.

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Page 30 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Memorial Behavioral Health A place where heroes serve up solid futures for those with challenges By Nila Smith “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Some of us said these words a lot when we were children. It was a defense mechanism that our parents taught us when we were being teased by other children on the playground or in the classroom. To our parents it was a source of reaffirmation, that in spite of the nastiness, we were above it and not hurt by it, but is it true? When we were called fatso, did that little limerick make us believe it was alright to be overweight? Probably not. Then there were those who picked on relentlessly those who were different. Foureyes for those who wore glasses, gimpy for someone who had a disability that impacted their walking, the terrible n-word for those of a different skin type, and the equally terrible r-word for those who were intellectually disabled or challenged. Those words hurt, and they sometimes caused irreversible damage. Children who were intellectually disabled were somewhat protected in school because they were separated from the general population a lot of the time, participating in special education classes intended to teach them according to their ability to learn. But what happens when those children age out of the school system? They are in the world, but the world does not see them, or it sees them as a societal liability rather than an asset. This is where Memorial Behavioral Health - Lincoln Center for Developmental Rehabilitation (LCDR) formerly known as Logan/Mason Rehab in Lincoln comes into play, and why the program is being named as one of the Lincoln Daily News’ 2023 Hometown Heroes. LCDR began its history in Lincoln and Logan County at the now long defunct Lincoln Developmental Center campus. In 1989 the service was re-established in a new building on South Postville Drive. It was known then as Logan/Mason Rehab, a name still used by some in the community. Today, it serves a large number of clients with intellectual disabilities from a wide range of communities including those from Lincoln and Logan County, Mason County, and Springfield/Sangamon County. The program was nominated because of the work it does to help challenged individuals lead happy healthy productive lives. Specifically the nomination spoke about the Community Day Services program. Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 31 “The LCDR’s work is very important for the individuals that attend the programs. Some of the individuals’ favorite activities are when the staff takes them on day trips or adventures such as fishing, walks or hiking trails at the nearby parks, attend various area sports games. “The clients collected and sent for recycling hundreds of pounds of plastic caps to make a bench for their outdoor area. They assist in the planting and maintenance of a community garden and participate in various other activities and events. “Once a week a small group of rotating individuals volunteer at the Humane Society of Logan County where they socialize with the cats and dogs, spending quality time and giving them love and attention they might not otherwise receive due to the volume of animals the HSLC has at a time. The quality time spent with the animals is also very therapeutic for the individuals and has shown to aid in decreasing unwanted behaviors and increase participation in some individuals who volunteer. “The LCDR aids in providing these individuals with fun activities, learning experiences, and opportunities they might not have access to without the Lincoln Center. The heroes aren’t just the staff, but also the loving and willing individuals that attend every day. Together, they change the lives of each other and those around Logan County.” LDN reached out the LCDR and was graciously invited to visit the center and see firsthand the remarkable work that goes on there. When driving past the building, all seems quiet, and it is hard to believe just how much activity is going on inside the building. First, Peggy Ross-Jones is the Regional Director of Developmental Rehabilitation and serves as the administrator at the LCDR. Karen Deany is the Community Day Services Director and oversees the overall plan for educational and socialization development of the clients. The building is divided into numerous classroom or workshop areas, where the clients are led through a variety of activities from maintaining what they learned in school to advancing their overall knowledge and teaching them life skills. There is even an area where clients perform assembly and packaging tasks for Eaton Corporation in Lincoln and reap the reward of a regular paycheck. Deany led a room-to-room tour of the building and shared what was taking place in each area and how it helped the clients. Continued --

Page 32 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Some of the rooms included areas for reading, clients read books and practice their comprehension. Some read aloud, practicing their language skills as they read. Deany said that each client comes into the program at a different level of capability and the program design permits the clients to advance or maintain that level through daily skill exercises. The programs are individualized to each client. Another room is set up for life skills development including cooking and cleaning. Deany said that the clients learn to make food and clean up afterward. The skills developed give them a greater level of independence, but also enable some of the clients to enter the workforce outside the LCDR. Other rooms are designated for crafting which gives clients the opportunity to exercise their imagination but also visualize an end product and follow instruction in order to achieve that end product. Another area the students are fond of is the art room where they can draw and create according to their own ability. Deany said there are three or more instructors in each room that work with the group and one-on-one with clients as needed. Then there is the assembly room where clients work for Eaton. Deany and Ross-Jones both emphasized that Eaton Corporation has been a wonderful partner with LCDR. Each morning the plant delivers bins of parts that require assembly or need to be sorted and packaged into cartons. There are two lines that the clients work with. The first is the creation of what is called an Amp Strap. The clients take a thin metal strap and place a plastic tube around the center of the strap. The straps are dropped into a carton and then taken to a machine at the back of the room where the individual straps are run through an oven. The straps pass through the oven conveyor style and on the other end come out and are placed into another carton for return to Eaton. The clients who work on the Amp Straps are paid by the number of pieces they put together each day. At the end of the day, those who have had a good productive day can earn more than minimum wage, but regardless of how many they get done, everyone who works on this line earns some money. The other part of the work in the assembly room is an hourly position where each client collects the correct number of breakers in a variety of sizes and boxes them into kits. Continued --

2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Page 33 Deany said this is a great job for the higher functioning clients because, they must sort their breakers, remember how many of each one goes into the kit, then count out those numbers and put the breakers in the correct order inside the kit. The kit is boxed and another worker seals the package and it goes into a bin to go back to Eaton at the end of the day. Deany said that the clients have the satisfaction of knowing that they are functioning, doing something productive and they are earning money. At the end of the building is the outdoor recreation area. Deany pointed out the bench that was referred to in the nomination. She said the clients had worked hard to gather what was needed and very much had enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well done when they got the bench back from recycling. Ross-Jones said that socialization is a very important part of the daily program at LCDR. She said that the goal is to keep the clients intellectually and physically active and to increase their ability to be a part of society. Some of the fun and wonderful experiences that came unexpectedly during the tour were the warmth of the clients and their outgoing personalities. Many approached the tour group with smiling faces, a hand to shake, a self-introduction and sometimes a show-andtell from the activity they were involved in at the moment. Deany explained that though most consider that the LCDR is for those with intellectual challenges, sometimes those challenges are accompanied by physical challenges and other health issues. There is a nurse who assists with seeing to it that prescribed medications are handled responsibly and that clients receive what is needed at the required time. There are also private areas for clients who need assistance with bathroom and personal hygiene functions. The trips that were referenced in the nomination were also discussed. Clients get to go some really great places. The are taken to the local parks for walking and enjoying nature, they go to the Lincoln Memorial Health Wellness Trail for walking, and they get to do really fun things like go to the zoo in Springfield or have a cook-out picnic to celebrate all the birthdays in the month. Transportation for the clients is via buses, and again the name Eaton Corporation was mentioned. Eaton made it possible for the LCDR to have a wheelchair bus for their day trips. The company has also donated I-pads for classroom use, a dishwasher for the life science room and a popcorn maker and popcorn for weekly treat for the clients. A Success Story – Amber Farmer Looking at the program from the outside, one can understand how all the work being done at the LCDR is designed to help intellectually challenged individuals live a happy and productive life but seeing it firsthand drives it home even more. Amber Farmer is well known in the Lincoln Community. She is active, loves to go places, is often seen in the community at events such as Third Friday’s Downtown, and has a good friend, Seth Goodman, whom she enjoys spending time with.

Page 34 2023 Hometown HEROES Magazine LINCOLN DAILY NEWS May 2023 Farmer and Goodman go back several years. They met in high school. Both remember the day and the first encounter. Farmer remembers it was not a good day for her. Fellow students were being mean to her, picking on her and making her feel very bad and insecure. She remembers that it was Goodman who made it better. Goodman remembers the day saying he saw a young girl who was so hurt that she couldn’t even make eye contact. He said that day, their sole communication was a high-five they shared, with Farmer holding her head down, no eye contact, no words. A simple communication that was very difficult for a young girl whose self-esteem had just suffered a heavy blow. But, the friendship became more communicative as time went by and today Farmer will tell you that at the top of her list of friends is Seth Goodman. She has other friends as well and people that she likes spending time with. She says at LCRD Karen (Deany) is her favorite person, but there are several others there that she likes as well. She has a special friend and enjoys spending time with him in person as well as multiple texts on her cellphone every day. She loves to go places, likes to eat out, and she is artistic. She likes to paint and was happy to share a painting she had done at a local joy of painting fundraiser. The bunny was a project that everyone in the class was working on, and Farmer turned out a remarkable product that got the attention of all her fellow students that evening. It also got plenty of attention from Goodman. Goodman said that when the painting was finished, Farmer brought it straight to his office, and presented it to him as a gift. Farmer works in the assembly room two days a week at LCDR and earns her own money for things she needs and wants. Goodman said that she is good with money and does well in managing what she has. In addition to working in the assembly room, Farmer also worked for a while at Lincoln Continued --