The City of Rock Island announced the annual Citizen of the Year award winners during the city council meeting on August 22. Awards were given in the categories of business, professional, organization, individual, youth, veteran, honorary citizen (non-resident of Rock Island) and overall citizen of the year.

“We obviously have a great city with very passionate people,” said Seventh Ward Alderman Bill Healy.

The categories and winners include:

Business: McDonald’s, 1813 30th St.

McDonald’s franchise owner Austin Smith was nominated by residents for “his ongoing support for the Rock Island community.” He was recognized for numerous acts of charity and efforts to improve both Rock Island and the lives of his employees. Through the McDonald’s Archway program, Smith donated more than $100,000 in college tuition to his employees last year; he donated $5,000 to Rock Island-Milan schools; he sponsors Spirit Cards for Rock Island and Alleman high school students; provides discounts to U.S. veterans and Augustana College students; hosts Teacher Night five times a year; has received the “Rock Island Clean & Beautiful” award twice, and more.

Professional: 14th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Carol Pentuic

Judge Carol Pentuic introduced the creation and implementation of the Rock Island County Eviction Diversion Program, a program to help residents who were behind on rent to remain in their homes after the eviction moratorium ended in Illinois. The 14th Judicial Circuit of Rock Island County partnered with Project NOW, Prairie State Legal Services, the Salvation Army and the Rock Island County Bar Association to help with mediation services and provide funds to landlords on behalf of tenants who needed financial help. This prevented evictions and made sure landlords were paid. Judge Pentuic helped amend the court’s Local Rules to require mediation to help prevent eviction and oversaw the creation of an Eviction Toolkit to guide tenants and landlords. Her work with the Eviction Diversion Program allowed many tenants extra time to apply for rental assistance and helped landlords obtain long-awaited rent payments. Helping landlords resulted in fewer home foreclosures in the county.

Organization: Celebrate Recovery

For 20 years, Celebrate Recovery has provided a 12-step addiction and mental health healing program. Celebrate Recovery works out of Edgewood Baptist Church and is based on Biblical principles to guide participants on the path to recovery and better mental health as they deal with addiction or trauma caused by abuse, health problems or other life issues. Program leaders Mike Russell, Dan Cullett and Cathy Thomas were at the meeting to accept the award.

Honorary Citizen (non-resident of Rock Island): Rock Island High School English teacher Michelle Greenwood has taught at Rock Island High School for over 20 years. She was nominated by several residents, including fellow teacher Connie Hayek, who said Greenwood is the “epitome of what it means to be a teacher and exemplary citizen.” She’s more than a teacher to her students; she fills in as a parent figure, counselor, mentor and role model. “As a teacher, it is truly amazing to see a coworker and friend who makes such deep and profound connections with her students,” Hayek said. Greenwood helped implement the Rock Island High School chapter of Gray Matters Collective, a mental health and suicide prevention initiative.

Individual: Vicki Hess

Vicki Hess was recognized for her long hours of selfless volunteer work. She volunteers for the South Rock Island Township, organizes coat drives for Christian Care Homeless Shelter, raises money for families in need and cooks breakfast every Saturday at the Rock Island Eagles Club. Hess was nominated by several residents who said, “She has such a huge heart and will do whatever she can to help a complete stranger if they would ask for help. She would give her last penny to help anyone. The world needs more Vickis.”

Youth: Quincy Davis

Quincy Davis is called “the best kept secret of the Quad Cities.” He has been volunteering in the community for nearly 35 years, starting as a youth basketball coach for the Rock Island Park Board in 1988. He has volunteered for the past six years for the Lonnie Ray Academy as a mentor and basketball coach. He organizes tournaments and arranges lodging, transportation and meals, often at his own expense. Davis also serves on the Rock Island Civil Rights Commission, serves on the board for Churches United of the Quad Cities and serves as chairman of the Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Deacon Ministry. Besides his volunteer work, he hosts a weekly Sunday morning radio show on KALA called “The Greater Antioch Gospel Hour.”

Veteran: James Kerr

The veteran category is new this year. U.S. Air Force veteran James Kerr has been recognized by the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Illinois Bicentennial Office “as a veteran whose service did not stop when he took off the uniform.” He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 299 and serves as its chaplain. Kerr is a former Rock Island Alderman, a current Rock Island Township Trustee and sings in the choir of Second Baptist Church.

Overall Citizen of the Year: Quincy Davis

In recognition for his community leadership, mentorship and work with Rock Island youth, Quincy Davis has been chosen Overall Rock Island Citizen of the Year.