CHAMPAIGN – When Laura Frerichs was given the chance in 1998 to volunteer for her future husband's campaign for state representative, she didn't do so.
At the time, Mike Frerichs was a 24-year-old Yale University graduate trying to unseat longtime representative Tim Johnson. Laura Appenzeller was a senior at the University of Illinois, active in school politics and finishing a bachelor's degree in advertising.
Today, Mike Frerichs, 35, has been state senator a little more than two years, and Laura Frerichs, 31, is vice president of marketing and business development for Fox Development.
CHAMPAIGN – A decade ago, a miniature schnauzer and a black cat got Marilynne Davis through a lonely stint in Hungary. And when it was time for Davis to return home, she got them back to Champaign. It cost $2,000.
"He got me through a lot of times when there was no one who spoke English," she said of Bogyo, the dog.
HOOPESTON – The Hoopeston Public Library invited area residents to share their memories of a time in the mid-1940s when a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers was a part of their community.
The memory session was part of a visit of a TRACES mobile display. The nonprofit educational organization, created to gather, preserve and present stories of people from the Midwest and Germany or Austria who encountered each other during World War II, has several displays on tour at any given time. The display in Hoopeston on Friday featured information about POW camps in the Midwest.
CHAMPAIGN – In a space where a man with famous thumbs often presides, a man who knows how to wear a stovepipe hat took the stage.
On Thursday night, Oscar-nominated actor Hal Holbrook opened the LincolnFest film festival at the Virginia Theatre – a festival venue usually associated with Roger Ebert – with a handshake and a smile for everyone and a reverence for the real man of the hour: President Lincoln himself.
Longtime Homer activist always ready to speak out, pitch in
HOMER – Over the years, Betty Lacey of Homer has had a lasting impact on her community. Whether it was to save the town's last brick street (which she did with Dan McCollum's help) or get space to house the community's first library (which she did, and then sat on its original board of directors), 86-year-old Lacey keeps a close eye on the village board and doesn't hesitate to speak up.
DANVILLE – The East Central Illinois Community Action Agency will honor three Danville men for their service to the community at its 43rd annual dinner meeting.
Jim Crose of Crose Insurance handles the agency's insurance plan, but he does a lot more than that, according to Odette Watson, educational Talent Search supervisor for the agency.
Of Danville Area Community College's many success stories, Laura Williams stands out in DACC President Alice Jacob's mind.
In 1980, Williams, who had dropped out of high school when she got pregnant, enrolled in DACC's GED program. Earning her GED gave her the confidence to try a couple of college classes, and she went on to earn her associate degree in 1986. While working a number of jobs on campus, Williams earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois and later a master's in higher education administration.
Mykayla Thomas came into the world with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, survived on feeding tubes for several days and spent almost a week in neonatal intensive care.
Her mom had to wait two long days before she could hold her newborn.
Little wonder those days were stressful for April Browder, then an 18-year-old single mom. Too worried to eat or sleep, she lost her pregnancy weight – and then some – within a few weeks.
"It was very scary," says Browder, now 21.
As the birth of her second child, Clayton, approached last fall, Browder sought help from the Crisis Nursery of Champaign County. Family specialist Cherylanda Trice told her about a new program for moms at risk of perinatal depression.
URBANA – Have an old musical instrument you're not using? Maybe a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan could use it.
Marajen Allen of VFW Post 630's women's auxiliary in Urbana said her group will take responsibility for mailing guitars, drums, flutes and horns to soldiers overseas. Electronic music players are also welcome, she said.
URBANA – Unhappy with the results of previous programs aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency in Champaign County, officials charged with that responsibility are going to try something new.
They've chosen a program with a track record of getting a whole family not only to start therapy but also to finish it. In mental health jargon, it's referred to as an "evidence-based practice."