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  • John Dillon Named 2022 Batavia Citizen of the Year

    100 Women Who Care Fox Valley is this year’s Spirit of Batavia honoree.
    BATAVIA, ILL – December 8, 2022 – One of Batavia’s “unsung volunteers” was named the 2022 Batavia Citizen of the Year (COTY) today. The Batavia Chamber of Commerce will honor John Dillon on Thursday, April 27, 2023, at the Chamber’s Inspire 2023: A Celebration of Those Who Inspire Us! annual awards event.

    Additionally, 100 Women Who Care Fox Valley is the Spirit of Batavia award winner for 2022. A committee of previous recipients of the Citizen of the Year award selects the Batavia Citizen of the Year from nominations received from the community. This group also chooses the Spirit of Batavia group honoree.
    Margaret Perreault, president and CEO of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, commented that once again, the committee chose worthy award winners.
    “Every year I am amazed at the accomplishments of the Citizen of the Year and Spirit of Batavia honorees,” explained Perreault. “This year is no exception; John Dillon has quietly and consistently helped Batavians and the city in immeasurable ways. And the 100 Women Who Care Fox Valley has supported a fantastic group of nonprofits over seven years, providing many small nonprofits a leg up when they needed it most. 
    “During our annual awards dinner, guests will learn so much more about these honorees, promising to once again inspire us all,” she added. “This is always a wonderful event; we invite the community to join us and celebrate all that is great in Batavia.”
    John Dillon has deep roots in Batavia, having moved here at age 3 in 1963 with his family. He is a 1978 graduate of Batavia High School and spent his career (since 1979) working for the City of Batavia. He began with the water department in 1979, became foreman in 1987, and was promoted to superintendent for the water and sewer division in 1993. After retiring in 2016, he has continued to work part-time for the city.
    Through last year, he served as the education manager for the Illinois Section of the American Water Works Association (ISAWWA). In this role, he developed and coordinated training opportunities for water and wastewater operators throughout the state.
    In a nomination letter, Dan Hoefler, COTY 2021, wrote that John “is without question one of Batavia’s unsung volunteers who gives of his time and effort in service to others.”
    Much like Hoefler, John Dillon is keenly interested in the history of Batavia. He is a lifetime member of the Batavia Historical Society and since his retirement in 2016 has taken a more active volunteer role at the Batavia Depot Museum/Gustafson Research Center. As a research fellow and docent at the Batavia Depot Museum, he has spent countless hours digitizing and cataloging historic photos and documents.
    Hoefler also wrote that John is “one of the few remaining windmill volunteers who worked with Bob Popeck and is instrumental in the continued preservation of Batavia’s historic windmills.” City Administrator Laura Newman said that he serves as the city’s primary local windmill mechanic and liaison to the windmill preservation community. One of his most recent works is the restoration of the U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Company Model E windmill in the Batavia City Hall Plaza.
    One of John’s projects since retirement has been to put together an all-inclusive historical account of the development of Batavia’s waterworks and sewer systems from 1893. Mayor Jeffery Schielke called this book “a priceless document” to have in the city’s archives. “It is instrumental for future generations to know what has been done through the years by the water department should upgrades or repairs be necessary.”
    The mayor also described John as “a giver to Batavia all of his life, making a difference in town with everything he’s done. He’s always been there to lend a hand to make things better today than they were five, 10 years ago, specifically with the water utility.”
    Batavia United Way
    John was a board member for the Batavia United Way from 2012 through 2018, including a stint as its president when Melinda Kintz was hired as the organization’s executive director. Although she retired from this role, Ms. Kintz is quick to sing John’s praises.
    “I am beyond thrilled about the choice of John Dillon as Citizen of the Year,” commented Melinda. “When I assumed the role of executive director of Batavia United Way, John, the BUW board president, quickly became a mentor, sounding board, problem solver, and ultimately a valued friend. 
    “His passion for Batavia, its history and its people is reflected in his boundless energy to serve,” she continued. “Whether it was setting up for a 5k/10k fundraiser in the dark, delivering gifts for the Christmas Adopt A Family program, delivering bags of groceries to homebound seniors during COVID or raking leaves for senior citizens for Day of Caring, John is always ready to help. He is truly a gift to our community.”
    John is still active with Batavia RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) as a current board member and past president. In 2020, he worked with Batavia United Way and the City of Batavia to organize a COVID “Community Cares Program.” Not only did RSVP volunteers deliver groceries to senior citizens, but they also helped set up a taxi service to get senior citizens to doctor appointments when Batavia RSVP’s volunteers weren’t able to drive them.
    He commented that he enjoys being on the policy-making side of RSVP. As part of RSVP, the Medical Assistance Program (MAP) helps income-qualified senior citizens receive help to pay for prescription drugs. Because Medicare doesn’t cover dental or hearing aid batteries, he was thrilled that they built relationships to procure financial assistance to help seniors to pay for these ongoing costs. Now, the group is working with a local optometrist to expand on these services to include vision needs.
    Woodturning and More
    For those familiar with the Batavia Boardwalk Shops, you may have purchased one of John Dillon’s hand-made wood pieces. After retiring from full-time work, he started taking woodworking classes at the Chicago School of Woodworking. As his skills grew, so did the number of projects that emerged from his shop. He joined with several other members of area wood turning clubs, the Chicago Woodturners and the Windy City Woodturners, and applied for a Boardwalk Shop in 2021. They were accepted and sold beautiful hand-crafted products not only in 2021, but this year as well.
    As is typical for John, he helped coordinate bringing a fundraiser, Empty Bowls, to the Boardwalk Shops. Over the past three years, they have raised $7,000, along with a yearly food drive, for the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry, Northern Illinois Food Bank and Fox Valley Food for Health.
    John is also a member of the Batavia Vikings Ring Lodge #18 and enjoys bicycling, gardening and a yearly hunting trip. For 33 years, he’s been married to Marcy and has two stepsons. Besides his mother Rosemarie, other family members include three sisters: Kathleen, Patricia and Sharon. His father, John, and a brother, Mike are deceased.
    As to John’s reaction when he was surprised with the Citizen of the Year news, he said he was “shocked.” Marcy Dillon commented that she, on the other hand, was not really surprised when he told her the news.
    “He has never been one to say that he doesn’t have time to help someone or a group,” said Marcy. “He’s always busy. And, I remember my mother-in-law (Rosemarie) saying, ‘well, that’s just like his father was. He got involved in everything.’”
    When asked for his thoughts on getting involved with their community, John said that the best thing he’s experienced is “all the people that you meet along the way.”
    “It (volunteering) really broadens your horizon,” stated John. “I got a lot of new friends that I’ve met over the years through either work or volunteering. It is so worth it.”
    City Administrator Laura Newman wrote in an email about John that he is “about the most positive person I know. He has a smile and greeting for everyone he meets.”
    “He cares deeply for the people in his community and shows it every day with his tireless service,” concluded Ms. Newman.
    Spirit of Batavia Honoree
    The Batavia Chamber of Commerce is also pleased to announce that 100 Women Who Care Fox Valley is this year’s recipient of the Spirit of Batavia award. This is the seventh year the award is given to an organization that has made significant contributions to the Batavia community.
    Mayor Schielke commented that when talking about spirit in Batavia, 100 Women Who Care Fox Valley is a good representation of the care and kindness that Batavians are known for and worthy of the Spirit of Batavia award.
    “There are so many people in this town who are willing to step forward without publicity or acknowledgement to just be there to help with nice actions that help people in need,” he said. “I can think of countless people in our town who have been touched or assisted in some way by this organization.”
    Since their inception in 2015 by Batavia residents Karen Hollis and Theoni Limouris, the group has granted more than $225,000 to Kane County nonprofits. More than 65% of the group’s membership is from Batavia. Batavia nonprofit recipients include Batavia United Way Success by Six Program, Suicide Prevention Services, ChipIn Batavia, Elderday Center (three-time winner), Fox Valley Ballet Nutcracker production, and the Community Foundation COVID Response Fund.
    The organization is credited with creating awareness about many little-known and small nonprofit organizations. Because of the success of this group, Karen and Theoni were asked to speak as the keynote address to the national 100 Who Care Alliance.
    Theoni commented that she and Karen are thrilled to receive the award, but that it in fact belongs to the entire group.
    “From the beginning, I told the group, I may steer the ship, be the “face” of the group but it is not about me,” explained Limouris. “It’s about every single lady who has showed up and taken part in our giving circle. I am so excited that THEY are being recognized for their efforts.”
    One of the fun highlights – and the most memorable for Theoni – was surprising the unsuspecting recipient organizations with their grant.
    “There is nothing better than showing up with a check for $10,000,” she said. “We’ve cried a lot of happy tears through the years!
    Batavia’s Citizen of the Year, the Spirit of Batavia honoree, Ole Awards and the Georgene Kauth O’Dwyer Ambassador of the Year award winners are to be presented at the annual awards event for the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. Inspire 2023: A Celebration of Those Who Inspire Us! will take place on Thursday, Apr. 27, 2023, at Lincoln Inn Banquets, 1345 South Batavia Avenue in Batavia. For ticket information, register online at bataviachamber.org/events or contact the Chamber at (630) 879-7134.

    Pictured above are Karen Hollis and Theoni Limouris.


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