Inspire Award

AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital CEO and President Chris Shride, far right, poses for a photo with the 2020 Inspire Award winners (front row, from left) are Peggy Michalik, Play Palz 101; Francisco Isidro, Isidro’s Tamales and Taqueria; Grant Girard, Girard’s Ace Hardware; Shirley Prairie, Berkot’s Super Foods; (back row, from left) Daryl Ferris, Glade Plumbing; Eric Johnson, Process Electric; Sheldon Jones, U.S. Postal Service; and Dan Stauffenberg, Stauffenberg Farms. Not pictured are John Bobera of Aqua Water Utility Co. and Elizabeth Turn of Kennedy Middle School.

KANKAKEE — Recognizing a year like no other, AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital Kankakee marked it with an award like no other.

In January, the AMITA Health Kankakee Community Leadership Board and hospital administration adjusted the rules of the annual AMITA Health Kankakee Inspire Award for Community Service. The honor is typically awarded to one individual or community organization exemplifying the mission and values of AMITA Health, celebrating inspirational leadership and advancing the health and well-being of the community.

For 2020, that wasn’t enough, the organization said in a press release.

This year, hospital administration presented the annual Inspire Award to 10 of Kankakee County’s essential workers, stand-ins for the hundreds of community members who have spent the past pandemic year serving not only the hospital itself, but the community as a whole.

“The Inspire Award is intended to lift up unheralded heroes serving in our community and provide a spark of inspiration to others,” said Chris Shride, president and CEO of AMITA Health St. Mary’s Hospital. “It is important to recognize and honor those behind the scenes who are invaluable to holding our neighborhoods together and advancing the well-being of our neighbors. I cannot think of a better way to recognize the love and support shown to us throughout this past difficult year than to spread it out among all those who have truly served us all.”

Shride said since the start of the pandemic, the community has supported the hospital’s associates and physicians in countless ways, including providing donations of food, personal protection items and notes of encouragement.

“We, in turn, are paying tribute to all essential workers in Kankakee County,” he said. “We want to honor and thank every essential worker in our area by this award to one of their peers.”