Modern Woodmen honors man for community service

Originally Posted Online: June 26, 2011, 6:30 pm
Last Updated: June 30, 2011, 1:32 pm
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Todd Welvaert,

At 65, Jim Collins is at an age where many start to pull back, to slow down, to coast, but he will tell you when it comes to life, education and helping others, there's no finish line you cross.

And for his continuing dedication and leadership in our community, he will be honored Wednesday with Modern Woodmen of America's Community Service Award for 2011.

"(Being chosen) was completely unexpected and I just really didn't know what to say, which my wife found very interesting," Mr. Collins said. "When (Modern Woodmen CEO) W. Kenny Massey called to inform me, I was very humbled and honored in part because I know every one of the previous honorees and recipients and they areawesome people who have done awesome things in the community, and to be listed among them is very humbling, very much an honor."

Mr. Collins worked for Deere & Company for 42 years, starting asa general laborer and casting sorter atthe East Moline Foundry in 1964. He worked inpersonnel, affirmative actionand community relations. He retired in 2008 as president of the John DeereFoundation. He's been married to his wife Karen for 46 years.

He's also served the community as a volunteer forJunior Achievement Business Consultant at Truman

Elementary School in Davenport, provided support and guidance to Davenport and Rock Island/Milan

Community Schools,served as a member of the United Way of the Quad Cities Area Education

Council, provided counsel to Achieve Quad Cities Education Program, and served as an advisor to the Diversity Work Group of St. Ambrose University, inthe development and implementation of their Decade of Diversity Initiative.

In the past, he has served on the board of directors for many local organizations, includingthe Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, Junior Achievement of the Quad CitiesArea, Genesis Medical Center, the African American Museum of Iowa, the Illinois Quad CitiesChamber of Commerce, Quad Cities Art and St. Ambrose University, among others. He has been recognized by a variety of organizations for his service, including Junior Achievement, St.Ambrose University, Project Now, the local chambers of commerce and the Rock Island/MilanFoundation.

"Mostly, I've focused on education, to try to inspire our young people to get training and continue learning," Mr. Collins said. "Learning is lifelong. Education is a basic building block for life. We need to be sure our kids are getting what they need to learn and to continue to learn so they can lead independent lives. I realized how important education has been to our family, I have five kids and 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and I hope I've instilled and they recognize the importance of that."

One of his biggest concerns is the significant dropout rates at area schools.

"I view it as a crisis, I really do," he said. "It's unsustainable for a community, we can't tolerate it. Look, they are going to learn and if they are not learning in school and getting an education they are going to learn on the street and most of what they learn on the street isn't going to be very positive. Right now, people with an education can't find a job, so you know what's happening to those without an education. The impact goes beyond the immediate person and their family, it affects business, it affects retail, it affects schools and cities. It doesn't stop at the river, or at the city limits,it affects us all."

Although he sees great challenges, he is optimistic about the future.

"We are truly blessed as a community, we have a lot to offer, especially in our human resources," Mr Collins said. "We could do a much better job at working together and collaboratively, we're not in competition here. I know we have the resources, I'd like to see us focus on connecting the dots and seeing the bigger picture."

He credits his family and the church for instilling ideas like shared sacrifice, helping others and being aware of a bigger picture and always working hard.

"I've looked at it as unfinished business," Mr. Collins said."My wife and I have spent a lot of time at these schools, doing things with our own kids and there's a temptation to say it's enough but you do this here for someone else's kids and you hope some one where ever your grandchildren are are looking out for them."

About the award

The Modern Woodmen of America Community Service Award honors a Quad-Cities leader who is committed to volunteer service and helps our community to grow and prosper. Modern Woodmen donates $7,500 to the charity of the recipient's choice. Mr. Collins chose the award to be split by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the Dr. Freeman Pollard Minority Student Scholarship Endowment Fund to share the grant.

Previous award winners include:

1997: William B. Foster

1998: Michael A. Bauer

1999: Thomas G. and Karen H. Getz

2000: Peter Lardner

2001: Gene Blanc

2002: Joe Whitty

2003: Don Wooten

2004: Mayor Mark Schwiebert

2005: Clyde C. Schoeck

2006: Dr. Richard "Bud" L. Phillis, M.D.

2007: Jim Horstmann

2008: Judy Kreiter

2009: John Wetzel

2010: Jill McLaughlin

2011: Jim Collins


Local events heading

  Today is Friday, Sept. 19, the 262nd day of 2014. There are 103 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Charles M. Osborn of this city, a lawyer of prominence, who voted for Lincoln in 1860 is now out strong for McClellan and will take the stump for him.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The George Fleming company had begun its dried fruit packing in a branch plant on 16th Street, Rock Island, employing nearly a hundred workers.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The cornerstone of the new Eagles home was laid. Building committee members were John Kobeman, Fred Ehmke and Frank Wich.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Former Kaiser Wilhelm, in exile, is sad as the Nazis march with communists.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Ninety-two members of the acappella choir at Davenport's West High School today accepted an invitation to perform at the New York World's Fair on June 13, 1965.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A Rock Island woman is one of 50 winners of $10,000 in cash in the Illinois State Lottery's "Celebration "89" instant ticket game. Dawn Loeffler was the third winner to be chosen through daily drawings that began Aug. 28 and will run 50 consecutive days.

(More History)