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Al Griggs at the business he started in 1979: Colony Square Cleaners.

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The crew at Colony Square Cleaners in Champaign.

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Urbana Rotary Club members Chris Scherer, left, and John Muirhead, right, present Al Griggs with the 2021 Vocational Achievement Award.

On New Year’s Eve, Al Griggs reported to work at the business he started more than 40 years ago: Colony Square Cleaners in Champaign.

It’s a family-owned, family-run outfit that keeps the soon-to-be 80-year-old on his toes.

“It’s beautiful beyond expectations,” Griggs said. “We can lay our own path and make our own road — and we have.”

His influence on our community — through working, volunteering, advocating — started soon after Griggs moved from Arkansas to C-U in 1965.

Most recently, presenters touched on his powerful role when he was honored by the Rotary Club of Urbana with its annual Vocational Achievement Award, calling him “a bridge builder between people and communities.

“His impact in all of his undertakings has been one of bringing people together from various perspectives for the common good, and helping those who are less fortunate.”

Griggs was honored at a ceremony at Crystal Lake Park.

“I hope I’m remembered as someone who was out there helping people,” he said, adding there’s more work to be done. “It’s a community that I dearly love, but we have to stop some of this violence — no ifs, ands or buts about it.

“We’ve been through other tragedies and solved them — we’ll solve this, too.”

Rotary Club of Urbana

Vocational Achievement Award winners

1993 - Dan Perrino

1994 - Willie Summerville

1995 - Paul Yardy

1996 - Ron Gerrietts

1997 - Jim Burgess

1998 - Gary Smith, Tom Jones

1999 - Eldon Johnson, Bob Bender

2000 - Fred Schlipf

2001 - Henry L. "Hank" Taylor

2002 - Rupert Evans

2003 - John Cribbet

2004 - Michael Day

2005 - Gene Amberg

2006 - John Dimit

2007 - Tom Berns

2008 - Helen Satterthwaite

2010 - Robin Hall

2011 - Tom Brown

2012 - Robert Easter

2013 - William L. Volk

2014 - Mike Ross

2015 - Marilyn Kay

2016 - Barry L. Houser

2017 - Phil Knox

2018 - Bruce M. Hannon

2019 - Pamela R. Hulten, Ed Scharlau

2020 - Jill Quisenberry, Julie Pryde

2021 - Alvin Griggs

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