ISBE Celebrates the Year of the Volunteer

Westmont volunteers recognized at September Board meeting

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Jay G. and Kristina L. Dean of Westmont were honored by the State Board of Education for the month of September as part of Illinois’ “Year of the Volunteer” program. The initiative, established by a Senate resolution, aims to “engage all generations as participants, planners, organizers and leaders of the volunteer infrastructure.”

“Volunteers from our faith-based communities contribute tremendously to the success of Illinois students,” said board member Curt Bradshaw of Naperville.  “Jay and Kristi are shining examples of the kind of positive impact faith-based volunteers can have on students.”

Board members are choosing to honor individuals who live in their communities for dedication and volunteer service. Bradshaw selected the Deans for their work through the Awana ministry, a faith-based program that helps students learn strong study skills, responsibility, grit, perseverance, and the importance of strong moral character.

Jay and Kristi began serving students through the ministry as a couple in 1986 after starting individually in 1976 and 1985, respectively. Working with students who range in number from 50 to 130 at any given time, they have touched the lives of thousands of young people.

The Deans lead a weekly program that includes self-study, social gatherings, and a winter camp. The program helps the students develop a stronger and deeper faith and prepares them to lead more successful lives and careers.

Jay and Kristi currently serve the Awana ministry located at Grace Pointe Church in Naperville. Over the years, the Deans have worked with students from a number of Illinois communities, including Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield, Oswego, Lisle, Downers Grove, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Plano, Westmont, and Woodridge.

The Senate established the Year of the Volunteer in response to the “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” report by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship that showed only about a quarter of Illinoisans volunteered in 2013. According to Senate Resolution 1002, research shows that “Illinoisans who do not volunteer would like to, but simply do not know how to get connected to service opportunities.” In cooperation with fellow organizations, ISBE urges community members of all ages to explore volunteer opportunities, particularly those related to children and their education.

ISBE supports the initiative in cooperation with Generations Serving Generations, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Illinois Department on Aging, the Serve Illinois Commission, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois Senate via Senate Resolution 1002.

For more information on how to take part in the Year of the Volunteer, go to