December 2017
'Tis the Season to Volunteer
A Word From the Director
As another year quickly draws to a close, I hope you can look back on 2017 as a year where you were able to make a difference. That truly is what this life is all about – making a difference in someone else’s. At Serve Illinois, we make it our mission to give every person in Illinois the knowledge and ability to help someone else, and I am humbled to say, it was another amazing year where Illinoisans gave back!

We saw it with the most AmeriCorps Members serving in Illinois in the history of the program. Thousands of people giving up to a year of their life in service to others in nearly 70 Illinois counties!

We saw it with communities coming together to help each other. One example is Macon County, the winner of this year’s Governor’s Hometown Award Cup. There annual food drive raised over one and a half million pounds of food in just twelve hours!

We saw it with the #ILGive Giving Tuesday program that helped to raise over $2.5 million for non-profits across the state. We also learned that Illinois is the top state for individual charitable donations!

No matter the problem, Illinoisans always step up to help. Whether it is someone in need next door or someone in need on the other side of the world, Illinois is always at the front of the line to help. It will never cease to amaze me what one kind heart can do to make this world a better place, and I want to thank our millions of kind hearts who prove that every day.

Now, let’s get to work on 2018. You can find a place to volunteer by going to . We need you!

Yours in Service,

Scott McFarland
Governor's Hometown Awards
Since 1983, the Governor’s Hometown Awards program gives formal recognition to communities that contributed to quality of life via projects that had strong volunteer support, met a need, and made a definitive impact. 

Serve Illinois presented 14 localities with honors for the 2017 Governor’s Hometown Awards program during a special reception at the Old State Capitol on November 8. The Governor’s Hometown Awards.

The commissioners deemed 4 of the 14 projects as cup finalists, which are the best projects in each of the four population divisions of the program. These four localities include:
  • East St. Louis - “Join Hands Advocacy Project”
  •  Kewanee - “Step Ladder Tutoring Program”
  • Macon County - “WSOY Community Food Drive”
  • Waterloo - “Monroe County House of Neighborly Service”

The 4 cup finalists were presented to a new panel of judges. The judges chose one project, Macon County, as the overall Governor’s Cup Winner, which was announced at the awards ceremony event on November 8. Governor Bruce Rauner addressed the crowd at the event, and awarded the cup to Macon County.

Congratulations again to all of the project winners!
Applications for the 2018 Governor's Hometown Awards are OPEN NOW!
(Nominations due August 1, 2018)
We know there are many communities out there using volunteers in a variety of ways, so please apply to get the deserved recognition!
Veteran's Day
Serve Illinois partnered with the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs again this year for Serving Those Who Served. This year Illinoisans were encouraged to conduct a service project benefiting veterans throughout the week of November of Veterans Day!

Illinois AmeriCorps programs served this week as well. Programs conducted a variety of service projects across the state that included, thank you cards and letters, provided meals, clothing and food drives, and so much more! AmeriCorps members served over 66,938 veterans and their families during these events, which amounted to around 2353.5 hours served valuing $61,073.33.

We are looking forward to making next year's Veteran Day even more impactful!

Learn more at Serving Those Who Served .
Meet Our New Commissioners
Governor Rauner recently appointed six new Commissioners to Serve Illinois. You can read about them below, and you can see all of our Commissioners here .
Jennifer Benanti
Illinois Symphony Orchestra
Shawn Healy
McCormick Foundation
Recognition Day
Every year Serve Illinois is excited to bring National Service Members from all over the state for one day of service and recognition!

This year was great success. Around 800 National Service members and staff were present for a day filled with award presentations, breakout sessions, exhibits, a blood drive, and more! This year Illinois was pleased to welcome the acting CEO of National Service Kim Manasary, and newly appointed Director of AmeriCorps Chester Spellman. Both flew in from Washington D.C. to visit program sites and share a day of recognition. Abraham Lincoln joined again this year and led Members in a parade to the Old State Capitol where Chester Spellman shared an encouraging speech and swore in members for their new year of service!

Some new twists were added to the day that included having the parade and swearing in first in the day, instead of the end. A new on-site service project assembling homeless bags was also introduced this year! This allowed programs to bring items to be placed in 100 bags that were assembled by AmeriCorps members, and later delivered to local homeless and domestic violence shelters!

Next year’s Recognition Day is set to take place October 17, 2018 and preparation for the event is already underway! 
Giving Tuesday
$2,519,309.75 Raised
9,943 Donors
467  Nonprofits
Volunteer of the Week
The Illinois Volunteer of the Week is an exciting program where you have the opportunity to highlight volunteers across the state that are making a difference in their communities. Each week we highlight a new volunteer by sharing their picture and story on our website and all of our social media forums. We have had the opportunity to highlight tutors, community organizers, Boy Scout leaders, special event coordinators, medical volunteers, shelter volunteers, and so many more. It has been our privilege to hear their stories and share them. If you know of someone that you think would be a great candidate for our Volunteer of the Week please visit the website below to nominate them.
Also, if you know of a volunteer that you would like to be recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Office of the Governor and Serve Illinois please email Jamie.
New Staff Members
I It is my privilege to introduce myself as the new accountant for the Serve Illinois Commission. My name is Spenser Morrissey. I started working with the commission in September, and since then I have been able to join in on many of the commission’s events. It has been a pleasure meeting many of you, I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know every program. Prior to working at the Commission, I worked in the Public Accounting sector. There, I was involved in several state and local governmental agency audits.

Recently, I completed the certification to become a Certified Public Accountant.   
As the new Accountant for the Commission my responsibility is to work with all programs to ensure financial matters are being handled correctly.

The financial side of grant management can be frustrating so please feel free to reach out me at any time at (217) 524-2252 or at   
Hello everyone, I am so excited to have joined the Serve Illinois Commission as the AmeriCorps Program Manager. I am already enjoying my time working in house with a wonderful group of staff members here, and look forward to meeting everyone working “on the ground” doing the fabulous work with the community. As a former AmeriCorps member myself, I appreciate how my previous experience can apply to my overview of the administrative, operational and organizational processes of the program moving forward.

Prior to my arrival at Serve Illinois, I spent 18 years working in Patient Care to include both direct and indirect. I have seen first-hand what programs like ours can do to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Illinois. It both warms my heart and excites me at the thought of working with such a great group of programs that work so hard for their communities.

My time in the military taught me a set of core values that I hold near and dear to my heart, and carry a reminder of it with me everywhere I go. 
Integrity - Service Before Self - Excellence In All We Do.

I strive to meet and exceed these set of values every day in both my professional and personal life, and I see these values instilled in to the AmeriCorps members and programs, and look forward to our working together in the future.
Please feel free to contact me at any time: or (217)524-2254
Upcoming Events
The Serve Illinois Commission is a bipartisan board appointed by the governor and administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Its mission is to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the state.