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Rock Island selects its top citizens

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The city of Rock Island has announced its 2015 Citizens of the Year in eight categories.

Honorees will be guests at a reception at 6:15 p.m. Aug. 24 before the city council meeting. The overall Citizen of the Year will be announced at that time and serve as the grand marshal of the Labor Day parade Monday, Sept. 7.

Those selected include:  

  • Business Category: LeFigaro Restaurant, which has been a staple in fine dining in Rock Island for more than 30 years. Owners Therese and Rachid Bouchareb have given back to the community by serving food to correctional facilities and non-profit organizations and teaching youth cooking classes. The restaurant closed in June as the owners retired.
  • Professional Category: Brandy Donaldson (co-winner), who has made a lifetime impact in eight years of living in the community. She serves on the boards of Dress for Success and Palomares Social Justice Center, while also actively volunteering with the Rock Island County NAACP, neighborhood clean-ups and starting her own volunteer program the Chemo Care Package Project.  
  • Professional Category: Lee Schenck (co-winner), who has been a leader in the banking industry for 50 years, including 16 at American Bank & Trust in Rock Island. She volunteers at Friendship Manor and has been an active member with Bethany Home, Hearts and Hammers and the United Way. She also has served as a mentor for 10 years with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
  • Education Category: Nicole Melody, who is an exemplary educator at Washington Junior High School and an administrator at Frances Willard Elementary School. She has organized numerous fundraisers for fellow educators experiencing hardships.  
  • Organization Category: Ballet Quad-Cities, which has provided professional ballet performances for almost 20 years. Over the last year, the group held dance classes at the Rock Island Academy, providing the lessons for free to students of all different ages, races, genders and dance abilities culminating with a performance at their annual Ballet in the Park.  
  • Individual Category: John McEvoy and William DeVrieze, who inspired one another to get involved with the Rock Island Girls Softball League and the Rock Island Lions Club. They have volunteered many hours to both organizations.
  • City Employee Category: Nancy Blair, who works in the city's information technology department. She has co-chaired the United Way fundraiser for the city and serves as treasurer for the ASFCME union. She also assists in school activities such as Post Prom and served as the PTA vice president and treasurer at Denkmann Elementary.
  • Youth Category: Amy and Amber Haskill, who began their own non-profit organization called QC Closet2Closet, which provides clothing and other personal items to foster children. The sisters devote countless hours collecting, organizing and preparing care packages for youth who otherwise would not have their own personal items.
  • Honorary Category: Bill Wundram, columnist for the Quad-City Times, and supporter of the Rock Island community. He brought to life the art, culture, diversity and beauty of Rock Island through many of his columns over the years.

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