YMCA Honors Local Leaders

The YMCA of Rock River Valley recognizes local leaders each year who have made an impact in our community. 

The awards are normally presented at the annual YMCA Community Dinner. Due to COVID-19, the dinner event did not take place this year. The awards were presented directly to the recipients.

“We could not miss an opportunity to lift up some amazing individuals and businesses,” said Michelle Gorham, CFRE, YMCA Chief Advancement Officer. “We are proud of these recipients and their dedication to our community. Their efforts help make the Rock River Valley a better place for us all.”

YMCA Antonio Little Teen Leadership Award presented by Field
2022 Winner: Molly Ryan

This award is provided to a young individual between the ages of 16-19 who has demonstrated leadership and is taking an active role to improve the overall health of the Rockford community. The winner receives a $1,000 scholarship. Molly Ryan is a student at Boylan High School. She is a competitive swimmer and lifeguard. Molly spends much of her free time volunteering for various organizations including the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Cornucopia Food Pantry. Additionally, she is president of her school’s Key Club, which is a service organization. In her essay, she shared her insight on leadership - something she learned in a moment of feeling overwhelmed. “It was then- at my breaking point- that I realized that my job as president wasn’t about

doing it all. Being a leader is instead a process of motivating a group of people to maximize their efforts to achieve a specific goal.”

YMCA Community Leader Award presented by Sjostrom & Sons
2022 Winner: Vivian Lott

The Community Leader Award is recognition for any outstanding leader who embodies excellence in their field, is an outstanding role model and exemplifies the mission and vision of the YMCA. Ms. Vivian Lott is founder of Voices of Inspiration, a non profit organization that serves people in need. Voices of inspiration partners with multiple community organizations like the Northern Illinois Food Bank to help distribute food boxes. VOI also works with local stores and managers to pick up and sort out the donations from local grocery stores and get it out to the people. 

Ms. Vivian helps feed youth in YMCA programs at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. She opens for the Y when she is closed, she assembles special boxes full of fresh food for anyone in need - and she does it with a smile on her face. Our staff says she has a "heart of gold." Ms. Vivian and VOI help the Y complete its vision of providing a healthy environment for our youth.

YMCA Outstanding Organization Award presented by Oak Street Health
2022 Winner: Rockford Police Department

This award recognizes an organization that increases the business image of the community. This organization also gives generously of its time and resources to better impact the community. This year, we are recognizing the Rockford Police Department, with special recognition for Officers Patrice Turner and Andrew Seals. Officers Turner and Seals have Rock Houses in the area and noticed the youth in these neighborhoods needed positive role models and safe spaces to be kids. They built a relationship with our Teen Reach team at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and started transporting kids to our site. They have identified youth and families who need a little extra love and they go out of their way to find them programs and services. The Y is blessed to have this partnership with the RPD and specifically with Officers Turner and Seals. They have helped us extend our reach to students outside the immediate neighborhood.