44th Annual Salute to Business Awards
Every year, the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce recognizes businesses that have contributed the community in several categories: Economic Impact, Beautification and Heritage. The Awards are presented at our Annual Salute to Business Award Luncheon, typically held at The Regency Conference Center.
This year, due to COVID, we are celebrating our Salute to Business Awards a little differently. Every month, we’ll highlight one of our 2020 annual award recipients. We hope you enjoy finding out about some of these awesome Chamber members!
Click each image below to view details and watch the video
Spirit of the Chamber Award
Jennifer Mueller Memorial Foundation
The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce created the Spirit of the Chamber Award in order to recognize a business or organization who goes above and beyond doing great things for our Chamber and our Community, and demonstrates excellence in collaboration with others to make a positive impact in the community.
Our 2020 Spirit of the Chamber recipient is the Jennifer Mueller Memorial Foundation.
Jenn Mueller was Operations Director of The Egg & I O’Fallon and the daughter of the owners, Gary and Cathy Mueller. Jenn was very active in the community, participating in the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber’s very first Leadership Institute, a leadership program that educates, trains, and prepares individuals to better serve in their community. Jenn was involved with many other charitable causes in the area.
Jenn was diagnosed with Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma in 2010, passing away January 17, 2018. Her family and friends want her charitable legacy to endure, so they established the Jennifer Mueller Memorial Foundation.
The Foundation hosts a 5k race in the summer. The 3RD Annual Race in 2020, unfortunately, was cancelled due to COVID restrictions, but they plan to come back fierce in 2021! Since they were unable to host the race, the held a number of yard sales this year. The race and yard sale proceeds currently provide scholarships to Jenn’s college alma mater, Colorado State University. Their future goal is to expand their mission with the hopes of helping even more people. They’ve currently donated close to $20,000.
Sean Toolen, Co-Owner of Toolen’s Running Start and a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, tells us he got to know the Mueller family through The Egg and I O’Fallon. Jenn and the rest of the Mueller family made pancakes for the Toolen’s Annual Top of the Morning 5K and then started working with other races in the community doing the same. Sean knew about Jenn’s health battle and when the family decided to host a 5K in Jenn’s memory, he reached out to be part of the race. Sean says, “The family is phenomenal with helping others and we wanted to help them have a successful race. The race was to keep Jenn’s memory alive and to give back to the community. This family always goes above and beyond. Even though they don’t have the restaurant anymore, they’re still involved in the local racing community making pancakes! They currently support the John Wild Run, Bradley Smith Run, EK Color Run, and the Habitat for Humanity Run, just to name a few. They don’t do it for praise or recognition – they just want to help people.”
Jenn was very much a part of the Chamber’s military affairs committee. You’d see her serving the airmen on base when we sponsored dorm dinners. During our Salute to Scott event, few worked as hard as Jenn did to feed the masses. Jenn did these things even during her illness – service was a huge part of her life.
Jessica Lotz, Chamber’s Leadership Institute Coordinator, cannot imagine Lead In without Jenn. “Jenn never missed a meeting. She came with a smile on her face and gratitude in her heart. She contributed to discussions frequently, often offering the human side of business discussions. She recognized the uniqueness of each individual and honored those differences by helping us see how very different people can work together.”
Scholarships have been given to the Chamber’s Leadership Program as well as to hospitality students at Jenn’s alma mater. One of the recipients stated, “Your generous scholarship will help me accomplish my goal to graduate in 3 years and be able to take my new degree to new corners of the world to change hospitality wherever I go. I also hope to use my career to start a business one day that will help my local community.” Another recipient says, “My goal is to leave a positive impact on as many people’s lives as possible.”
Jenn Mueller and the entire Mueller family are community and service-oriented. The family continues this in Jenn’s name – what a legacy Jenn left behind. Follow Jennifer Mueller Memorial Foundation on Facebook.
Watch the Spirit of the Chamber Award Presentation Video
Rotary Community Service Award
Beth Ortega Group at RE/MAX Preferred
The Rotary Community Service Award is presented each year through the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce Awards program. The 3 Rotary Clubs in O’Fallon select a business or organization who demonstrates their commitment to helping others in the community by volunteering their time and talents. This could include financial gifts to those in need, donation of professional services in support of the community, or support to a community event that wouldn’t have been possible without that support. Community partnerships and businesses that exemplify service before self are a key part of the award.
It wasn’t very difficult to choose a recipient for the 2020 Community Service Award. If you really want to get something done, you call Beth Ortega, Beth Ortega Group RE/MAX Preferred.
When there was a chance the O’Fallon Illuminated Christmas Parade was going to be cancelled in 2017, Beth and her many helpers, with less than 3 months until the parade, stepped up and not only kept the parade alive, but improved and expanded it as well. Beth met with Mayor Herb Roach to talk about what could be done to save the event. Mayor Roach tells us, “Halfway through the discussion, Beth tells me she’ll take the ball and run with it. ‘It’s too important to our community and our children not to have.’” Beth and her elves reached out to local businesses for sponsorships/contributions to help with the cost of the parade. They reached out to the public to volunteer and help “save Christmas.” They worked with the City of O’Fallon and pulled off what might be called one of the best parades we’ve had. Mayor Roach continues, “The results are FANTASTIC. You have seen a beautiful parade with beautiful floats, bands and so many participants and other activities that have gone along with it. Beth doesn’t say ‘no,’ or ‘what’s in this for me.’ It’s just the opposite, Beth comes at things with ‘what can I do to help the community.’”
Beth has continued leading the Illuminated Parade efforts. There was no parade in 2020, of course, but Beth has exciting plans for 2021 – watch out!
In April, during the COVID stay-at-home order, Beth organized a Pop-up Parade that drove around neighborhoods. Beth recognized the need for a little cheer and organized this to bring some happiness and a smile to the face of people around OTown.
Beth loves a parade, but she’s into running as well. One of her greatest passions is working with the John Wilt Foundation and their annual 5K Honor Run. Beth and John Wilt were friends. After he passed away in 2002, the John Wilt Foundation was established and has supported the USO, O’Fallon Veterans Monument, Fisher House, and a yearly, renewable scholarship to a graduating OTHS senior. You might even see Beth running John’s flag from the O’Fallon Veterans Monument. Beth also gets her family involved in the run.
Beth is a big supporter of the Children’s Miracle Network. A portion of her commissions go to 2 local hospitals to help kids in need.
If you’re a friend, co-worker, or family member of Beth’s – watch out! She’s going to sign you up to help with whatever her newest project is! Those close to Beth do so willingly because her enthusiasm and love for OTown and people in general, is infectious.
Beth is a hard worker at her profession as well! Susan Holden, President, Holden Realty; Managing Broker/Owner RE/MAX Preferred, and Past Chamber President, says, “Beth is always supercharged and makes everyone around her better. Her attitude and enthusiasm are contagious. She gets more done in a day than most people accomplish in a week. (I’m not sure when/if she sleeps!) Beth is a game changer…she tackles every task/committee whatever with the same zest and amazingly gets others to volunteer and get things done. Beth can walk into a room and the whole atmosphere changes. She is a natural born leader.”
“Beth is such a wonderful person and has a servant heart. She has received the Community Service award from the REALTOR Association of Southwestern Illinois in 2016. She not only is very active with the John Wilt Foundation, but was Co-creator/ Vice President of Lifelong Music in O’Fallon Schools. RASI applauds the Chamber and Rotary Clubs in O’Fallon for presenting this award to Beth,” says Deb Frazier, CEO, REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois.
Rotary’s mission is to provide service to others through the fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders. Beth Ortega, Beth Ortega Group RE/MAX Preferred is a perfect example of service before self. There are 3 Rotary Clubs in O’Fallon. One to fit your schedule and your needs. You can contact your Chamber at 632-3377 for details on each club.
Watch Rotary Community Service Award Presentation Video
Heritage Recognition Award
Southern Illinois Builders Association | Girl Scouts of Southern IL | Realtor Association of Southwestern IL | American Legion Post #137
The Heritage Recognition Award is presented during milestone or anniversary years to any Chamber member business or industry that that has been in business for 50+ consecutive years. In 2020, we had four businesses that reached a milestone year. We continue to virtually recognize our Salute to Business Award recipients from 2020.
Southern Illinois Builders Association – 75th Anniversary
In 1945, ten contractors decided to form an association to improve construction industry conditions and stimulate development in southern Illinois. Southern Illinois Builders Association’s first office was in East St. Louis and in 1966 moved into their new office at 7623 West Main Street in Belleville where they remained until 2004 when the Association built and moved into their beautiful new office in O’Fallon. Today, the Southern Illinois Builders Association, approximately 500 members strong, continues to promote the growth and well-being of the area which it serves. Each year the unified voice of SIBA grows stronger and the association continues to find unique and innovative ways to accomplish those early goals. The true growth of SIBA is best measured through the expansion of services, programs and facilities. Through the efforts of our members, staff and others over the last 75 years, SIBA has continually broadened the scope of activities directed toward building of the area and the industry. “SIBA Building For The Future…With One Voice…Since 1945”
Girl Scouts of Southern IL – 100 year Anniversary
Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSofSI) is a high-capacity Girl Scout council serving approximately 9,338 girls and engaging 3,587 adult volunteers while providing financial assistance to 2,772 members in 40 and ½ counties in Southern Illinois. GSofSI Mission: Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. The Girl Scouts organization is the world’s largest leadership development organization for girls. In partnership with committed adults, girls develop qualities that will serve them all their lives – such as strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth. Today’s Girl Scouts not only enjoy camping and crafts; they also explore math and science and learn about diversity, good citizenship, leadership and teamwork. Girl Scouting is the place where girls experience the fun, friendship and power of girls together. Adult Volunteers and Girls K-12 welcome. GSofSI is a not-for-profit organization supported by various United Ways throughout the region. Girl Scouts is a Proud Partner of United Way.
Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois – 100 Year Anniversary
100 years ago on June 5, area Realtor leaders came together to create the association for Metro East homeowners and private property owners. In the last century, the Realtor Association has been a part of the community, but not always known by the same name. In 1920, the association was known as the Arch View East Board of Realtor. In 1979, Belleville Board of Realtors and in 2005, our name was changed to the current name, Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois. “No matter what our name has been or how business practices change, the Association will always remain to be at the forefront of the Metro-East real estate industry. “Bringing You Home for 100 Years.” The Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois is the voice for real estate in Southwestern Illinois. Its mission is to empower members to succeed.
American Legion Post #137 – 100 Year Anniversary
The American Legion was founded in March 1919 in Paris, France, by U.S. World War I military personnel stationed there who were dedicated to four pillars of service and advocacy: veterans, military personnel, youth and patriotic values. The O’Fallon Post was chartered in 1919, by 15 World War I O’Fallon residents. The Legion has been instrumental in the creation of a number of major institutions of American society, including formation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, creation of U.S. Flag Code, passage of the GI Bill and more. There are approximately 13,000 local posts, and current national membership is about 2 million. American Legion membership is open to military personnel and veterans who have served their nation on active duty during wartime. Eligibility has been open to all who have served on active duty since Aug. 2, 1990, the beginning of continuous U.S. armed conflict in the Middle East and other locations around the planet.
Watch The Heritage Recognition Award Presentation Video
Board of Directors Installation and Ambassador Impact Award
Every year at our Salute to Business Awards, we recognize our outgoing and incoming Board of Directors. We also present our Ambassador Impact Award. We continue each month to virtually recognize those we’d usually celebrate in person. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch our short video highlighting our board change-over.
A Chamber is only as good as it’s members and volunteers. We KNOW we’re the best chamber around because we have the BEST members and volunteers!
Our outgoing board members, Sid LeGrand, Gonzalez Companies; Dave Hopkins, Town and Country Bank; and Greg Yank, GY Consulting, worked hard to make our chamber better than when they found it. Dave Hopkins spent much of his board time working with our education committee and on the school consolidation study. The study took a great deal of Dave’s time. Greg Yank, who passed away in early 2021, was our go-to for strategic planning. Greg believed we could always improve and pushed us to continually do so. Sid LeGrand truly has a heart for people and for our local business community. Sid helped pave the way for our leadership program to develop our community leaders of tomorrow. We appreciate the efforts of all our outgoing board members – thank you for your time, counsel, and guidance.
We look forward to working with our newest board members: Dr. Vinay Bhooma, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital; Dan Jackson, Carrollton Bank; Jon Greenstreet, Bike Surgeon; and Kenric Lynn, Local Noon.
We’ve met with all of them and we KNOW they each will have a unique contribution to our Board of Directors.
Cindy Helmkamp, Together Credit Union, has been in the President role since mid-2020. She came into the position during an obviously difficult time for all of us, but especially for our businesses. Cindy is definitely a people-person and we know she looks forward to meeting our business community IN PERSON, when the time is right.
Our chamber Ambassadors help us keep things moving when we’re able to have in person events. They’ve still been active during the past year, only in a virtual capacity. We were so happy to recognize Shelly Severns, DC, Severns Family Chiropractic, with the Ambassador Impact Award. Shelly is also on our Healthcare and Wellness Committee and she led the way with our 2019 Walk and Talk program to get people active.
We look forward to the future and to bringing back member favorites and to new programs we’ve developed over the past year. The future is looking brighter……
Watch the Board Installment and Ambassador Impact Award video
Economic Impact/Beautification – City of O’Fallon/Downtown District
Our Economic Impact Award is for a business who created or retained jobs in our communities, provided a unique service, invested considerable capital for new construction or remodel, and stimulated community development.
The Beautification Award is for a member who has made enhancements in the past year to the exterior/interior/and or landscaping through the remodel of an existing building. Special consideration is given for the preservation of historical/cultural designated properties.
O’Fallon’s Downtown District (DTD) has really made some progress over the past couple of years. Much of that goes to the partnership between the Downtown District and the City of O’Fallon.
If you haven’t been to the District lately, you’ll be very surprised. The Vine Street Market, located at O’Fallon Station, is a great place to visit for the May – October farmer’s market. There’s even monthly events during the winter months. The Station is a unique public and private event space.
Overhead lights have been strung across East First Street, with plans for them to extend down the rest of First Street later in 2021. It makes for a beautiful scene at night.
Murals have popped up at Steven Mueller Florist and on State Street. What a fun place to take a selfie!
Not sure you’re in Downtown O’Fallon? Just look for the yellow boxes on the streets and the directional signage – all new as part of this partnership. There’s even event signage on First Street (located near the market and outside of Peel).
You might also notice a number of our Downtown businesses have new fascades – that’s part of the city’s fascade program. It’s a matching grant program (up to $14,999) open to property managers to improve the exterior of their buildings and make Downtown beautiful. Money from the Central City Redevelopment Tax Increment Financing District was used for the grant program. This is an annual competitive program. It’s a reimbursement program; grant dollars are disbursed at project completion.
Downtown businesses are working together to create an experience when you visit. This year will debut a BaZart and Chalk it Up event, showcasing art, music, and food. There will be other events throughout the year with the focus being to get people downtown and to stay downtown to shop, eat, and socialize. Businesses are cross-marketing each other. There’s probably never been a time when Downtown businesses outwardly supported each other as much as they have in the past couple of years.
Downtown revitalization efforts have a direct impact on the local
economy, creating jobs, increasing property values, and attracting tourists. A strong downtown also contributes to the quality of life of a community by serving the needs of residents, workers, and visitors, both economically and socially.
O’Fallon’s Downtown District has monthly events planned throughout the year. Meet us Downtown O’Fallon – you’ll be glad you did.