By Herb Meeker
News Report Staff
Jack Schultz last week noted after receiving the Outstanding Philanthropist Award that his phone calls over the years have caused some worry among his friends and colleagues.
“I know some of you hate to get a call from me because I’m not just asking you out to have coffee,” Schultz said with a laugh after accepting the Richard C. Siemer Outstanding Philanthropist Award Thursday during the Effingham Community Foundation Hometown Event on the second floor of the Effingham County Courthouse Museum.
Schultz has been a “big asker” for community fundraising through the years. He helped with raising money for the Lake Land College Kluthe Center. He also raised more than $1.5 million for the Effingham County CEO educational program and the Midland Institute Board. He has also helped with the Lake Sara Forever Fund, that has helped with shoreline restoration and protection, as well as improving recreation at the lake
But Schutz, whose work with Agracel has reached out so many ways, has also been a big giver through the years as well. He provided land and support for the Cross at the Crossroads Foundation, which provided the landmark on the city’s west end. He has offered contributions of more than $1 million to the Effingham County Community Foundation and he was a founding member of that Foundation. He also supports Monmouth College and has been a mentor to the Effingham Community Unit 40 School District Mentoring program.
Rick Siemer, a founding board member of the community foundation, praised Schultz for his dedication to giving back and inspiring others to do so as well.
“He’s the kind of person who prompts people to do what they didn’t realize they could do,’ said Siemer, president of Siemer Miller in Teutopolis, who has worked with Schultz and others to make Effingham County a ‘can-do’ community. “All small communities need someone like him with enthusiasm to convince many people to achieve more by working together.”
Working together is the goal of the Foundation. It has expanded its reach and now has 130 funds providing support to a wide range of efforts. Those achievements have helped Effingham show the country what is possible. For example, the CEO program is expanding across the nation.
Schultz said he was inspired years ago by Homer and Consuella Luttrell, a couple that truly influenced him on community service. He talked about the tiny, friendly lady in the little box hat with the uncanny ability to raise lots of money for charity and community projects. They are both gone now, but their influence on community fundraising is still recognized.
“She was the one who told me there’s no shortage of big givers, just a shortage of big askers,” Schultz told the 100-plus attendees at the event organized by the Effingham County Community Foundation and Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. Midland State Bank was the event sponsor.
Schultz asked younger people to get involved for the future of community efforts. “Don’t let the older generation of this Foundation get in the way,” he said.
Some others committed to bettering the community were also recognized for their efforts. They included Gary Niebrugge, of Krops4Kids, a gardening effort that involves young people; Karen Etter, a Foundation board member who talked about the 100+ Women Who Care of Effingham County; Eric Chojnicki, who spoke of the Midland States Bank and HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital endowments for a healthier community; Aaron Meyers, who spoke of the goals for the Harmony Playground that will offer full access to everyone when the playground is built at the Richard Workman Sports Complex; and Brett Kingery on the changes that have enhanced the Ray, Mary and Tim Niebrugge Farm Trust that offers scholarships to local high school students.
Before the event ended, Schultz offered two words that might have exasperated his many friends and partners in community service through the years. After all, Effingham County is just 100 miles east of St. Louis.
“And one more thing: “Go Cubs!” he said with a slight smile just 24 hours before the Chicago Cubs started their home stand in their first World Series at Wrigley Field in 71 years.
In the spirit of the evening, the room exploded in laughter.