Heart of Illinois
United Way

Advancing Education, Income and Health in Chillicothe

Last year, more than 1,750 Chillicothe residents benefitted from United Way funded programs such as youth mentoring, legal services, services for members of the armed forces and much more.

Last year, more than 1,750 Chillicothe residents benefitted from United Way funded programs such as youth mentoring, legal services, services for members of the armed forces and much more. In addition, the United Way supports youth fitness programs at the Pearce Community Center in Chillicothe.

In total, 36 Heart of Illinois United Way funded programs were utilized by Chillicothe residents last year.

Supporting Nutrition with Pearce Community Center

Good nutrition is particularly important for school children. While they may eat breakfast and lunch at school during the week, weekend meals are limited in some households. That's why the United Way supports a snack pack program through the Pearce Community Center in Chillicothe.

"There are a lot of hungry kids out there and I think it's important as a community to do what we can to make sure those needs aren’t left unserved," Ben Alvarez, Pearce Community Center Director, said.

In partnership with the First United Methodist Church, Chillicothe's snack pack program offers nutritional food every weekend for children who are eligible for free lunch programs at school ... and teachers take care of getting it into the child's backpack.

"When a child is hungry, when he hasn't had much sleep the night before, all those factors play in and you're not seeing the best version of that child at school," Shay Obery, Chillicothe South School teacher, said.

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A highlight on United Way volunteers from Chillicothe...

Steve and Gail Garrison

Steve and Gail Garrison, United Way volunteers from Chillicothe

Gail Garrison has worked for Ameren's (formerly CILCO's) Treasury Department since 1990. She is responsible for the ongoing administration of 401K investments, welfare benefit plans, researching and coordinating investment strategies and maintaining and implementing investment policies. Prior to working at CILCO, she worked in public accounting and taught mathematics at the junior and senior high school levels.

Gail began volunteering for the Heart of Illinois United Way in 1997 as a member of the finance committee. She served as Treasurer and Board member from 2002 to 2006, and then served as chair of the Board of Directors from 2006 to 2008. In addition, she currently volunteers at Pearce Community Center, and has been a member of the Pearce Foundation Board since 2001 and the Pearce Community Center Board since 2009.

Steve Garrison has been in public school secondary education since 1972. He began teaching junior high school English and social studies and seven years later, moved on to the high school level, where he served as both a teacher and administrator since 1979. Steve's career was spent in high schools in the Chicago suburbs, in southern Illinois and most recently in Chillicothe where he retired from full time teaching in 2006 and has spent a few years part time teaching in Chillicothe and East Peoria.

In addition, he has been a part time faculty member in the Bradley University College of Teacher Education since 2006,supervising both secondary and elementary student teachers. He presently is a member of the IVC District 321 School Board, and has volunteered for Big Brothers and Big Sisters program.

"I've been involved with the United Way for about 15 years and have been consistently impressed with the quality of the staff and the volunteers. It's very satisfying to work with an organization that makes a difference each and every day in the lives of so many folks in our community. It's also gratifying to see the growth of volunteering among our younger population; high school and college students, and individuals early in their work careers, are giving their time and making an impact," Gail Garrison, said.

Steve and Gail Garrison have been married since 1974 and live in Chillicothe. They have three adult children, Brian and Jill who both reside in Indianapolis with their families, and Laura who lives in Chicago. The Garrisons also have two grandchildren.

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