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Lighthouse Rotary Club Awards for Service Above Self

Left to right: Karena Bierman (Rotary Club president), Brad Weiss (Vocational Service Chair), Fran Caan, John Phillips (Honoree), Jeff Russell (Honoree), Ellen Romberg

Left to right: Karena Bierman (Rotary Club president), Brad Weiss (Vocational Service Chair), Fran Caan, John Phillips (Honoree), Jeff Russell (Honoree), Ellen Romberg

At a recent meeting of the Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club two awards were given to recognize individuals who have given special service to the community within their vocation. The honorees were John Phillips, member of the public safety department at Evanston Township High School, and Jeff Russell, owner/manager of Cross Rhodes Restaurant in Evanston. Each has demonstrated exceptional generosity and concern for others during the recent economic downturn.

John (Big John) Phillips, a 1978 graduate of Evanston Township High School and popular member of the security staff at the school for many years, was concerned about the number of students who came to school during the cold winter without adequate warm clothing. At the time, due to the decline in economic conditions, over 40% of the student body was from a household with family income at or below the poverty level. Because of his gentle, outgoing nature and his long time residency in Evanston, he knew many of the families and all of the affected students well. John initiated a campaign by letter to request donations of new and used warm clothing for the students. John is also a member of the Evanston Substance Abuse Prevention Council’s Strength in Numbers committee. After 33 years of working at Evanston Township High School, John will be retiring in June, 2011. He will be sincerely missed. He is a man with a kind and generous heart who prides himself on greeting each student by name as they enter the ETHS school building each morning. John was nominated for this award by Rotary Club member Fran Caan, ETHS Director of Development.

Jeff Russell, owner and manager of Cross Rhodes Restaurant at 913 Chicago Avenue, also showed special concern during the economic downturn. Jeff has always had a policy of developing his staff. Waiters at the restaurant have often started working there as busboys or dishwashers. As with so many restaurants, business has been slower and tips may have been smaller than during more prosperous times. Jeff refused to cut any employee’s schedule because of the 20 or so children who were dependent on income from the restaurant. He was much more concerned about keeping his employees at a living wage than making a profit. Business owners such as Jeff help to strengthen the community. Jeff was nominated by customer and Rotary club member Ellen Romberg.
Each of these men was recognized for his Service Above Self with an honorary Paul Harris award from the Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary over 100 years ago. Rotary International is the world's first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 local clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.
The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary club has a membership of more than 75 business, professional and community men and women who meet weekly and support community, educational and international projects and organizations. Meetings are held at 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday mornings at the Hilton Garden Inn in Evanston. Visitors and those interested in membership are invited to attend.

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