Public works group gives back to community
By Madhu Mayer For The Herald-News December 18, 2011 8:46PM
Officers of the American Public Works Association pose at the group's holiday party with items collected for the Toys for Tots campaign. | Supplied photo
Updated: January 20, 2012 8:06AM
PLAINFIELD — Many might think the American Public Works Association is made up of people who get together just to discuss snow removal and maintenance issues.
But that definitely is not the case, as evidenced by the numerous community service activites and programs the group takes part in on a regular basis.
Randall Jessen, superintendent of public improvements for the Plainfield Public Works Department, said he has been involved with the association’s southwest branch for the past four years. The main goal of the American Public Works Association, he said, is for community involvement and public awareness of what public works personnel do on a daily basis.
“In addition to helping our members become better trained and educated, we have supported many local efforts in the way of food drives, Toys for Tots, college scholarships, etc,” Jessen said. “Our latest efforts include a food drive at our November meeting, where we passed the hat around and collected money that was donated to the Plainfield Interfaith Food Pantry.”
Jessen said the local food pantry in Plainfield always is in need of donations.
“It is not just the holidays that they need help,” Jessen said. “It is every day.”
For those who are interested, Jessen said, the association’s Chicago Metro Chapter will assist at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in St. Charles, where volunteers from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 17 will be packing food for distribution to needy families.
At the association’s recent holiday party, Jessen said the group also collected a huge amount of toys for the Toys for Tots program.
“Over the last two years, we have been able to help collect over 600 toys for this program,” Jessen said. “And last but not least, we raised over $5,000 for college scholarships that will be handed out this spring.”
A spokesman for the Toys for Tots program said any donation is helpful during these tough economic times.
“We, especially the kids, appreciate the hard work of people in our communities,” he said. “It is always great to see smiles on the children’s faces.”
Jessen said the association has nearly 1,600 members in northern Illinois, from Kankakee to Wisconsin and Indiana to Marseilles. Because of the number of members, Jessen said the Chicago Metro Chapter is broken down into five branches. Jessen is president of the southwest branch.
“Personally, from a professional point of view, you meet people from different communities who face the same issues and problems as we do,” he said.
On the horizon for the Chicago chapter in August 2013 is hosting the National Congress meeting in Chicago.
“This event brings in thousands of public works people from all over the country, Canada and (other) countries as well,” Jessen said. “It is a really a big deal to have the event. and we are in the midst of planning for a successful congress.”
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