University News

WIU Peace Corp Fellows Receive Governor's 2019 Volunteer Service Award

April 18, 2019


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MACOMB, IL -- Two Western Illinois University graduate students and current Peace Corps Fellows through WIU's Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) Peace Corps Fellows Program have received the Governor's 2019 Volunteer Service Award.

Carlos Ortega and Kari Rogers are among 27 Illinois residents and businesses who received the Governor's Volunteer Service Award April 9 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield. The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (Commission) presented the awards at a special ceremony.

Ortega received the award for the east central region for his service to Mattoon in Motion. Rogers received the award for the west central region for her service to the SIU School of Medicine, Office of Regional Programs in Canton, IL.

The award recognizes volunteers and volunteer programs that have made a difference in Illinois and highlights the importance of volunteerism and community service. The Commission received more than 150 nominations in six categories from the Commission's five service regions across the state. Audrey Adamson, assistant director of student services at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities, also received the award for the northwest region for her service to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

After serving in the Peace Corps for four years (one year in Kenya and three years in Namibia), Ortega is currently a Peace Corps Fellow at WIU, pursuing a master's degree in Public Administration/Public Policy. He serves as a full-time AmeriCorps member in the city of Mattoon, IL, working on community and economic development with the organization, Mattoon in Motion (MIM). He is helping with the development of a Business Innovation Center that will serve as a hub in the region to provide vital resources for startups and new businesses. Recently, Mattoon in Motion was one of 10 winners of Google Impact Challenge grants for $75,000 and also won an additional $250,000 by winning the People's Choice Award. Mattoon in Motion was created out of the IIRA MAPPING the Future of your Community program that the community completed in 2017, and Ortega, in his role as an AmeriCorps member in Mattoon, assisted with writing the Google Impact Challenge proposal for MIM.

Rogers served for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda during which she taught English and coordinated health education programs. She then worked for three years as a community liaison and program planner for refugee shelters in south Texas. She is finishing her master's degree in Public Health through the WIU Peace Corps Fellows program, and is serving as a full-time AmeriCorps member in Canton, with the SIU School of Medicine Office of Regional Programs. One of the main projects Rogers supports in her current position is SIU's Health Career Opportunities program, which prepares high school students, especially in rural areas, to go into health careers. She also assists various community health, volunteer coordination and emergency preparedness efforts of partners such as Graham Health System, Spoon River College and the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations