The DeKalb County KEYS Initiative recently held its 3rd annual Countywide Asset Champions Awards Breakfast. This event was created for the purpose of honoring local individuals and organizations that are making extraordinary efforts to build developmental assets, create positive connections with young people, and help make DeKalb County a better place for young people to live and grow.
Building a foundation of assets for all children and teenagers may be the most critical challenge – and opportunity – facing our society. Building this crucial foundation for young people begins as individuals choose to treat young people differently and put their well-being above all else. Getting personally involved in asset building and encouraging others to do the same is one of the most important commitments any person can make for the future of young people and our society.
This year’s awardees included:
Alan Iandola – A security guard at Sycamore High School who has mentored hundreds of young people through
a Sci-Fi club.
Marty Marks – A DeKalb pastor who presents a special toy ninja to children, youth, young adults, and others as a
way of telling them that they are remarkable people and that he is thankful for their place in his life.
Vic Sebastiano – A retired state police officer from Waterman who saw a need in his local school district and, on
his own, found a solution that has had a positive impact on countless students.
Eva Rey – A DeKalb resident who spends a great deal of her free time coordinating service leadership programs
for children and youth.
Neighbor’s House – A youth program that credits itself with providing tutoring, but in reality does much, much
more than just provide academic assistance to DeKalb youth.
Genoa Kingston United Way Youth Board – A group of young people from Genoa-Kingston who coordinate
several fundraisers in their community to serve families that have incurred devastating loses.
These are only brief summaries of amazing work being done by the individuals that were celebrated at the 3rd Annual Asset Champions Awards Ceremony. Their impact on young people in our community extends way beyond what is captured here.
Roger Scott, KEYS Steering Committee Chair and Mary Hess, KEYS Asset Specialist then introduced and presented all 14 nominees with an Asset Champion certificate of recognition. 2012 nominees included: Cindy Harness, Kishwaukee Education Consortium; Alan Iandola, Sycamore High School; Vic Sebastiano, Indian Creek School District; Carol Vest, Clinton Rosette Middle School; Marty Marks, Immanuel Lutheran Church; Tracy Paszotta, Westminster Presbyterian Church; Dave Elliot; Dan Coran; Eva Rey; Stagecoach Players; Neighbors House; Lauren Zelaya; North Grove Early Act Club; and, Genoa Kingston United Way Youth Board.
Michael Flora, CEO of Ben Gordon Center gave the keynote speech at the event. In his speech, he spoke passionately about the need for and value of all adults engaging in asset development in all youth in our community. In summary, Flora said, investing in young people pays great dividends for our society. Adults that take the initiative to build the external assets will help youth develop the internal assets. When combined, young people with a lot of external and internal assets (ideally 31 or more), get involved with few risky behaviors – the kinds of problems we worry about. And when young people have a lot of assets, they are much more likely to do the positive things we value. Flora thanked all attendees for supporting the KEYS Initiative and asset building, and urged everyone to
continue their asset building efforts and encourage others to do the same.
For more information about developmental assets, how building assets helps young people, or to learn about what’s happening in this community, contact DeKalb County KEYS Initiative by calling 815-756-8501, ext. 111 or visit the KEYS website.