Genoa Main Street wins state award

GENOA — Genoa was one of several Illinois communities recognized with the 2012 Lieutenant governors Award for Excellence in Downtown Revitalization in September. Other winners included Batavia, Crystal Lake and Elgin.

Seventeen awards were presented, four in each of four categories (design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring) and one for volunteer of the year. Winners were selected by a panel of judges from the office of the lieutenant governor, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

“Across the state we see renewed efforts at revitalizing our downtown communities, and the passion and dedication shown by these honorees is inspiring,” Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said. “These honorees exemplify the best of what our state has to offer and remind us that Illinois Main Streets are open for business.”

Genoa Main Street won an organization award for its Partner and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Organization awards can focus on volunteer recruitment, training, management and retention, promotion of the program, fundraising or similar activities.

Like most Main Street programs, Genoa Main Street must hold an annual membership meeting. To spice up a boring and sparsely attended event, the program added a thank-you component for its partners and volunteers. Organizers wanted the event to be celebratory so guests could feel special. To receive an invitation, a person must have volunteered a minimum of 10 hours or contributed a minimum of $50. To keep costs down, awards were made in-house. To recognize the volunteer who generated the spark that made plans a reality, the  Volunteer of the Year was given the Spark Plug Award – a mounted spark plug inscribed with the winner’s name. Volunteers donated their specialties for a live dessert auction. At the end of the evening, guests filled out volunteer forms for the coming year.  The judges loved the dessert auction and the clever take on the awards.

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