The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce honored several people and businesses during its annual awards dinner, the specifics of which were announced on the Chamber’s blog on Friday, Aug. 13.
Here are the release and the photos from that blog. The dinner was July 20.
2020 Business Excellence Award Winners
The Business Excellence Award is the most prestigious award given by the Chamber to a member who best exemplifies the following criteria: Evidence of success given company’s expansion and financial accomplishments, development and/or utilization of innovative or creative business methods, and contributions to the community.
Belleville Area Humane Society (Kim Vrooman shown) is a limited admission shelter. This means they only intake adoptable animals and never euthanize them for shelter space. Their mission is to strive to improve the lives of homeless animals in our community through adoption, humane education, and community outreach. They have been housing animals in our community since 1959 and thousands of homeless animals have been adopted since that time.
They also provide humane education and community outreach in order to promote animal welfare and eliminate overpopulation. And through the work of hundreds of volunteers in the community, the best possible care for our animals.
In 2021, BAHS helped lead the way to make St. Clair County a no-kill county. They also recently developed the St. Clair County “Lost and Found” Pet Report that has had a HUGE impact on Belleville and empowered hundreds of animals to be reunited with their owners throughout Belleville and St. Clair County.
A Few Examples of Belleville Animal Humane Society’s commitment to growing our community include: Helping control animal overpopulation by spay or neutering 401 community animals last year, innovated the Pet Pantry which last year served over 105,000 meals to community pets last year, provided 10,980 hours of opportunities for volunteers in Belleville.
Bouse Properties, LLC also known as Bouse Apartment Homes was founded in 1996 and since then we have been dedicated to providing quality apartments in Belleville, IL. Their staff is committed to helping to improve our community through involvement in support of our local St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
Bouse Properties has also expanded into the Self-Storage business units for those families that may find themselves moving from one housing situation to another. They are hoping that these units can be a helpful solution to those residents who need them.
Bouse Properties is a business that shows character and kindness! Starting in March of 2020 when the pandemic started, many of his renters were not able to pay rent. They could not work as their place of work was closed or had lost their jobs. His renters were nervous about being able to pay rent. Kevin told them not to worry, he would be patient with rent payments. I am sure his renters felt a bit of relief. Kevin worked with each renter that was in arrears to help in some way. This went on for months. Some of the renters decided the pandemic was going on too long and they would be in a large debt that they could not payback. o they decided to move out. These renters had furniture, etc, and needed storage as they were going to stay temporarily with someone. Kevin offered them storage space in one of his facilities to help them out as they could not pay for storage either. Kevin did this for several renters. Kevin Bouse is a person of character and compassion and Belleville should be thankful to have him as a businessman in our city!
Over the past year, Chestnut Health Systems (board member Dennis Wilmsmeyer shown) has continued to expand mental health services for residents of St. Clair County. Chestnut secured federal grants from the Office of Victims of Crime to treat youth in the county exposed to a parent’s or caretaker’s opioid use as well as a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC).
Chestnut also secured funding from the County health department to provide a therapeutic case management aftercare model to children reentering the community from the juvenile justice system.
Chestnut’s goal is to be a “one-stop-shop” for all health and behavioral health services including primary care.
Chestnut provides aggressive Targeted Case Management (TCM) services for high utilizers of hospital emergency departments and inpatient hospitalization. Chestnut does this by evaluating quality metrics and connecting clients to providers who can care for a variety of health needs. Chestnut has been a leader in providing TCM services for those who live with both substance use disorder and mental health issues.
In 2020 Chestnut was awarded CCBHC certification and the 2018 project Wellness Outreach Network (WON). Rather than directing patients to our location, both awards send clinicians and staff into the community to locate and connect people to needed services.
Over the past year, Chestnut has created and implemented creative communication and public awareness around mental health and substance use disorder services. Chestnut has worked with regional mass transit providers to spread the message. An innovative program has Chestnut staff members riding mass transit buses daily, identifying riders who might need help with substance use or mental health concern, and connecting them with services in real-time.
Many people delayed getting help for medical and behavioral health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was due to fears of being in public, quarantining because of COVID exposure, or people heeding advice to stay home to stop the spread of COVID. To address this need, Chestnut transitioned to telehealth services virtually overnight. Doing so enabled Chestnut to continue treating patients and clients while also building a system and strategy to reach previously hard-to-reach individuals who experience barriers to treatment.
Chestnut staff members are active in numerous high-performing coalitions in St. Clair County, many times as leaders. Coalitions include the St. Clair County Healthcare Commission, Suicide Prevention Alliance, St. Clair County Youth Coalition, Lewis and Clark Area Youth Alliance, Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Drug-Free Alton Coalition, truancy boards, and the County’s health initiative “Healthier Together 25 by 2025.” Chestnut recruits parents from the community to better understand gaps and weaknesses in the current service structure in the county.
Serra Honda O’Fallon is proud to serve O’Fallon, St. Louis, Belleville, the Gateway Area, and surrounding communities with an excellent lineup of vehicles with customer service that is focused on your complete satisfaction across each step of the car-buying process.
Serra Honda is committed to quality customer service, they also strive to bring great value in a number of ways, including specials on new and used cars, recent college graduates, and a special offer to our military servicemen and women!
In 2020, Serra Honda started our Mobile Service Van. This van comes to your house to change your oil and can also perform six other different services. All you have to do is hand our service technician the keys, and they will take care of the rest! This idea was implemented because of COVID, but has become successful and has helped with our service department growth through the year!
Serra Honda also makes sure they recognize the employees’ commitment to their jobs by BBQ’ing every Friday. Birthday Cake for employee recognition. Food truck and Ice cream truck for employees and customers. Offer Jean Friday – our employees can wear jeans for $5 and we donate that money to different organizations including but not limited to Illinois Center for Autism, Teachers, nurses, police, EMT, Metro East Pride, humane society, helping strays, women’s shelters, all local hospitals, fire stations, etc. since the start of COVID. Over the past year, Chestnut has continued to expand mental health services for residents of St. Clair County. Chestnut secured federal grants from the Office of Victims of Crime to treat youth in the county exposed to a parent’s or caretaker’s opioid use as well as a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC).
The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce staff was honored as a surprise during the award dinner with their own Business Excellence award, presented by Zach and Jeff Bair of Grimm & Gorly Florist on behalf of the membership and Chamber board.
Many businesses thought the pandemic may be the end of business for them. However, one of the first calls businesses received was from the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce checking in to see how they were doing and how they could help. They called member businesses as well as those that were not members of the chamber. The Greater Belleville Chamber alerted the membership about upcoming state mandates, important Zoom meetings, and virtual seminars via email, website, and personal phone calls. Businesses were informed of grants that were available to them. The Belleville Chamber wrote letters to government officials on their behalf. From the beginning, they did not stand still and constantly were coming up with new ideas to help the businesses and the community.
In our community, the Chamber is a business that functions with many entities all working together. They showed their strength and commitment during this pandemic. They kept us together.
2020 Citizen of the Year Award Winners
The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes an individual member of the Belleville Community for their outstanding contributions and service. These contributions and community service include areas such as education, charitable and voluntary service, fundraising or any other area which contributes to the enrichment of the quality of life in Belleville. This award is given to honor and ensure the recipient’s contributions and commitment will provide an inspiration to us all.
For more than 35 years, Barb Hohlt has contributed to our communities through her service with the St. Clair County Health Department. She began her career in public Health in 1984 in Bond County as a Sanitarium. and joined the SCCHD in 1986 as the 2nd employee, working as a Sanitarian conducting food inspections, private water supplies, nuisance complaints, and private sewage disposal. She also served as a senior manager in the Environmental and Emergency Preparedness Department as well as Deputy Executive Director within the Health Department.
Her major career accomplishments include:
– Assisted in the establishment of St. Clair County Health Department as a Certified Local Health Department (1987) and accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board (2014).
– Assisted in the increase of the St. Clair County Health Department budget from $350,000 to more than $7 million with no increase in the local property tax for 29 consecutive years.
– Provided leadership and knowledge to numerous employees and interns on environmental and public health programs and services.
– Increased the Environmental Health Division programs and services to include vector control, tanning inspections, tattoo, and body art inspections, smoke-free enforcement, emergency preparedness, and response, groundwater protection, and the Medical Reserve Corps.
Aside from her professional accomplishments, Ms. Hohlt is widely known for her involvement in numerous volunteer efforts throughout St. Clair County, including serving as a board member for the St. Clair Associated Vocational Enterprises (SAVE), board member for the Metro East Parks and Recreation District (MERPD), member of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers for Hospice of Southern Illinois, the Dr. Willard C. Scrivner Public Health Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
In 2011, Barb was honored as the Metro-East Racial Harmony’s Board “Phenomenal Woman Award”.
Barb Hohlt has served in many roles within the field of Public Health and has always been a team player, partner, and leader, encouraging and allowing her employees to learn with her, to shine, and to become successful in their careers; Barb has served as a mentor to numerous others within the field. These past 18 months have illustrated her tremendous strength and dedication to Public Health as she led her team through the COVID-19 Pandemic. Barb is committed to her community and walks the walk – she has always been willing to work alongside her team and do what needs to be done for the citizens of her community.
An infectious disease specialist on Memorial’s medical staff, Dr. Omer Badahman spent countless hours during the COVID-19 pandemic educating patients, staff, and the community on this virus. He became “the resource” throughout the pandemic and, still today, offers his wisdom and expertise through media interviews and being a guest (on numerous occasions) on the St. Clair County Emergency Management Daily COVID Updates.
He allowed wide distribution of his cell phone number and took calls day and night as well as worked long hours without a break during the pandemic.
He made it his personal mission to ensure the staff was educated and abided by the PPE guidelines; Dr. Badahman’s passion to keep the staff, as well as the community safe, continues to be admired.
Dr. Badahman took time to meet with staff and patients, even when his consult load was extremely high, to ensure everyone understood the plan of care for the patients. He also participated in physician leadership calls as the team discussed the next steps as the COVID patient volume increased. Dr. Badahman was involved in patient placements, treatment protocols, and testing guidelines. He also spent countless hours talking with staff individually and in group settings about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine and was the first to get the vaccine when it was available at Memorial.
He is considered the voice of expertise and wisdom and a true advocate for the health and wellbeing of our community.
Distinguished Community Leadership Award Winner
This award is new for 2021 and is presented to someone who has demonstrated, through words, deeds and have made significant and notable contributions for the betterment of their community through service.
Mark Eckert has proudly served the Belleville community as both a civil servant and a private citizen for 24 years. His dedication to the City of Belleville is evident through his countless contributions throughout his extensive career, not only as Alderman and then as City Mayor but also as a Boy Scout Leaders, volunteering at Hospice of So Illinois, active in the Belle-Scott committee, Council President for St. Paul’s Church, PTA President, and an organizer for the Franklin Neighborhood Association. Mark has always found a way to transform his love and passion for Belleville into service.
For years his family witnessed him answer phone calls in the middle of the night, during dinner, mid-conversation, and sometimes at very inconvenient times. He truly put everything into Belleville.
While his official capacity for the City has come to an end, his notable service to the City will be recognized for years to come.