Summer 2017  The Beacon
February 2016 The Beacon
Annual Christmas Appeal
Linda Butler – Athena Woman of the Year Award
All in the Family – Holiday Meal Volunteering
Holiday Pie Production
St. Alphonsus & St. Ursula Hope Builders Service Project

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Download the Summer 2017 edition of The Beacon

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Download 2015 South Side Mission Christmas Letter
Donate Now2015 South Side Mission Holiday Letter Online

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Linda Butler – Athena International Woman of the Year Award

2015 Linda Butler Athena AwardReverend Linda Butler, New Promise Center Women’s Shelter Director since 2003 and first female clergy at the Mission, was recognized by the Peoria Chamber of Commerce with the Athena International Woman of the Year Award at the annual Holiday Luncheon held at the Peoria Civic Center Ballroom in late November.

The ATHENA Leadership Award® was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment – qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model®. The Award is unique in both scope—local, national and international—and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based. The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to a woman —or man— who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills.

Part of her responsibility as New Promise Center director is to provide social services and education opportunities that lead to employment and permanent housing for the women. Rev. Butler secures community volunteers and organizations to affect individual behavior change in the women. Approximately 200 women are admitted into the program annually. On the average the 2-3 women per month find employment and 1-2 women graduate with permanent housing and personal income.

In addition to helping shelter women pursue a career, Rev. Butler also uses the shelter program to benefit various internships including nursing, social work, and counseling for master and doctoral candidates. Linda is especially proud to model success for her daughter, Tamara Butler, who has earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Human Service from Millikin University and a Masters in Social Work in Schools from the University of Illinois.

Before her professional role at the Mission she was employed at WPEO Christian Radio for 20 years as Public Affairs Director, Community Relations Director, and Assistant to the General Manager.

Reverend Butler’s past and present Community Service includes:

  • The board of Peoria Area Friends of International Students at Bradley University.
  • Organization of the Peoria Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March and Leadership Awards.
  • Civic Director at her church.
  • Membership on the first board for Peoria Area Crimestoppers, serving from 1981-1985.
  • Founding Pray for the Cure in 2004.
  • Election to the Peoria District 150 Board of Education in 2007, still serving in 2015.
  • Being U.S. Representative to the Evangelical Church of the West, Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.

Reverend Butler’s Professional Recognitions and Publications feature:

  • 25 Women in Leadership Award presented by WEEK TV 25.
  • Keep the Promise Award by Kellogg’s and Komen Peoria Memorial Affiliate.
  • Sigma Image Award by Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
  • Drum Major Award by Peoria King Holiday Committee.
  • Two awards of appreciation from the Greater Peoria Area Crimestoppers.
  • Being a subject in Role Models: Profiles of Successful African American Professionals in Peoria, Illinois – a publication of Illinois Central College, 2008.
  • Included in WTVP program Interesting People.

Reverend Butler may be contacted directly at 309.676.4604 or by e-mail:

Below is Reverend Butler acceptance speech.

To the Peoria Chamber of Commerce and the hosting sponsors of this event,

I humbly accept this award in recognition of the spirit, power, courage, strength, and love that causes someone to devote time, skills, and resources to helping others. Also I want to say publicly to the chamber, thank you for the third time honoring me before the Peoria community. I also accept this award in memory of Dr. Barbara Penelton who mentored me from high school until her death in 2013. To my family, friends, pastor, and coworkers who are here because of this award thank you for coming.

I am grateful to God for the accomplishments and relationships I’ve enjoyed through my personal activities, professional experiences, and community service. All of which has been inspired by God, supported by family, embraced by community, and made visible by a career of public ministry.

In accepting this award, I especially make mention of the South Side Mission. It is there that I have the great and sacred privlege of empowering women in profession and leadership. As a chaplain and the director of the New Promise Center, a ministry that focuses on life transformation and reformation, I watch daily women and their children move from dispair to repair by gaining hope, utilizing education and employment resources to better their lives, and contribute to society through Godly character and community service. An additional prvilege at the mission is working with college interns and senior students who will soon be of service to people in need.

As I reflect on my involvement with South Side Mission, Pray for the Cure, international missions, Peoria Public Schools, and other endeavors, I conclude by seeking your prayers for greater work and by saying To God be the Glory. Thank you.

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Family Commitment – Holiday Meal Volunteering

2015 Ivie Allen Family 12Four generations. Ten at Thanksgiving. Five more at Christmas. Over 400 years of experience, all responsible for cutting and boxing 400 pies, that’s over 3000 slices, for recipients of South Side Mission’s Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Sean Allen lead the charge over 9 years ago. He became involved with Adopt-A-Block and worked as the Mission’s Volunteer Coordinator from ’08 to ’10. “I was inspired by God to get involved and jumped into the Holiday Meals,” beams Sean. He hadn’t met his family-to-be at that point but soon after marrying Lori he encouraged the whole family to participate in this ministry. While Sean originally delivered meals, the family quickly adopted pie duty and have eagerly volunteered for this opportunity since 2008.

According to Jerry – Team Leader, “The family arrives before 7:30 ready to go. There are many more responsibilities than one might think for such a project.” He went on to share, “We have two cutters, two boxers/stackers, media relations talent, resource manager, greeter, entertainer, quality control director – everybody has a role.”

Under Jerry’s leadership the family has grown in efficiency, finishing pie duty by 9:47 am last year, a record they aim to top this year.

In addition to the fulfilling nature of the service, working to help those in need, the family enjoys the camaraderie and memories especially what Lori – Greeter refers to as The Crashing Table Incident of 2014,

“We requested an additional table to handle our volume, but apparently the legs weren’t locked so we stacked the pies and the table buckled. By God’s Grace we only lost two slices.”

The whole family agreed with Russell – Ace Cutter, “Serving at the Mission is a great family experience. We encourage everyone to find a time and place to get involved.”

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Holiday Pie Production

2015 Debby Diemer 06Debby Diemer has a heart for those in need. For over 30 years she owned The Confectionary in Morton until the business sold in 2007. “We committed 60% of our net profits to a variety of local, national and international missions, whoever seemed to have the greatest need,” shared Debby.

“I found time in retirement and wanted to use some of it in service,” said Debby. “I knew about the Mission since I was a child attending Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Church and then learned of the opportunity to volunteer here through my church’s Community Volunteering Program.”

When she started in November of 2008 her main emphasis was to just help in the kitchen two days per week. “On my first day Sandra put me to work deboning a turkey and making turkey salad.” Since then she mostly preps veggies, makes salads and serves on the cafeteria line, that is until Thanksgiving rolls around…

When she owned The Confectionary she invested a week leading up to Thanksgiving baking 1050 pies. As South Side Mission’s pie coordinator she is responsible for ‘only’ 400 pies beginning Monday morning of Thanksgiving week. Humbly, Debby says, “Chef Chris does most of the work gathering the ingredients and supplies as well as lining up the four ovens we need, two in the kitchens and two brought into the gym.” But, Debby coordinates 6 volunteers, mixing and baking the 400 pies over two days. According to Debby, “The greatest challenge is learning the little differences in each oven and adjusting for the pies all day long.”

“Debby gives me peace of mind,” states Chef Chris. “Because of her I know the pies are taken care of so I can concentrate on preparing upwards of 3500 meals for the big day.”

Debby reflects on years past and opportunities for the future, “I feel satisfaction and reward in serving others, people that really need it.”

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St. Alphonsus & St. Ursula Hope Builders Service Project
Summer 2015

St. Alphonsus & St. Ursula are located in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and share some youth group activities. Following the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado they were called to service, fundraising and traveling over 13 hours and nearly 900 miles to help those in need.

The group returned to Joplin the following year then helped with Hurricane Sandy in 2013. In 2014 they committed to another service trip to Washington, Illinois following that devastating tornado. They arrived to discover most of the volunteer opportunities were full so they searched around the area discovering South Side Mission. The Mission welcomed this group utilizing their talents for Hope Builders projects. The group felt such passion for the 61605 zip code they contributed $3000 in their excess funds to the rehabilitation of a New Promise Center bathroom.

This year’s 32 volunteers contributed $150 each to the trip and helped with group fundraisers. While some see the nine hours of travel as a challenge, this group takes advantage of the bonding time, creating an even stronger team to tackle the projects when they arrive on-site.

“It is good for us to see that need is everywhere,” according to Lisa Feraco co-youth director. “These kids tug at my heart, I see their want to serve, they take ownership of the work.”

The 2015 projects included service at the Benevolence Center, replacing a porch roof, emptying and cleaning a large storage garage near The Mission as well as drywalling and painting at Satellite South.

Joe Natali just graduated from high school and is on his third mission trip, “Service means doing what needs to be done for those who cannot do it themselves.” Joe continues, “I enjoy being here seeing the result of my work, doing a project to completion with friends!”

Alana Garrison is on her third service trip, “I said yes to my first service trip to Hurricane Sandy because my brother had gone to Joplin the year before. I just wanted to help and my friends were all going.” She has been bitten by the service bug, “I really like going on service trips. Maybe one day I’ll be on the Core and Planning teams.”

Rose DeVine, 22 & Joachim Hall 19 have participated in all 5 service trips. Rose was a cheerleader at Villanova University, is entering the Human Resources profession and leads team building activities within this group. Joachim was homeschooled and enjoyed previous service trips before joining the St. Al’s/St. Ursula’s mission trip and is heading to junior college this fall with plans to be an electrical engineer. While experiencing diverse life experiences Rose summarizes their experience best, “We are all in this together. I hope we have helped create bonds. It is not just about helping others but growing in our faith and friendships with each other.”