OTTUMWA — The theme of the evening was the power of partnership as Partners in Progress hosted its annual banquet Thursday night, spotlighting and showcasing the efforts of many individuals and businesses in the community.
The highlight of the banquet was the announcement of this year's Gene Schultz Community Service Award winner. Always a secret until the moment the award is given, the award is given to someone who promotes improving quality of life and making the community shine. Kim Hellige was chosen for her involvement, commitment and enthusiasm for the people and community around her.
"I'm in shock," she said immediately after receiving her award. "Thank you — I never expected to receive one of these. I don't feel like this really belongs to me, though ... but all the people I have served on committees with over the years. I appreciate this recognition."
This humble, giving attitude was one focus of David Weilbrenner's introduction of Hellige. In addition to her full-time job with the Ottumwa School District, she has also been involved in volunteering with the Wapello County trails system, the Ottumwa Parks Board, her church, the American Home Finding task force on teen pregnancy prevention and many other community organizations. Weilbrenner detailed her activities, countless hours of volunteer work and going the extra mile for everything she is involved in.
"(She) has always earned a great deal of trust and respect from co-workers, students and fellow volunteers and is very much loved by family ... (she) is a longtime and proud Ottumwan," he said. "I heard a quote a few years ago that said, 'In order to be successful, you have to make a difference.' (She) does just that."
The Gene Schultz Award is presented each year to an individual or group that exemplify Schultz's commitment to volunteer service in the community. His wife, Rose, traveled back to Ottumwa from Tulsa, Okla., for the presentation of the memorial award.