By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
The Herald Bulletin received nearly 20 Community Person of the Year nominations from readers. The editorial board considered the nominations and selected five to be recognized as Difference Makers of 2012. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Executive director and founder of Man4Man Ministries
About 13 years ago, Bob Blume went to prison. Not because he’d been arrested, but to talk about rehabilitation on behalf of Promise Keepers Men’s Ministry. When he left prison, he felt he could do more. He went back a week later and began talking about the “7 Hurdles of Success.”
That’s how Jeffrey Dowers, public relations director for Man4Man Ministries, says Blume and his ministry got started.
Blume helps bridge the gap between incarceration and freedom by teaching the men to be husbands and fathers, valuable employees and godly men while helping the community strengthen crime-free neighborhoods and save taxpayers money by keeping the men out of jail.
“Bob has a father’s heart for the men involved with Man4Man Ministries. Many call him “Pops” or “B-O-B ...” Dowers wrote in his nomination letter. “These guys are incredible. They frustrate him sometimes and he would love to be able to say ‘You should have known better,’ but more than likely the guys beat him to it. Bob just continues to encourage and love them.”
The recidivism rate of all released males in the county is 60 percent while the rate of those involved with Man4Man Ministries is 4 percent.
Blume and Man4Man Ministries offers some jobs, as well, such as Man4Man Ministries Lawn Care, “Holy Hands” Auto Detailing, Plowing4You and others to help the men get back on their feet.
Elwood City Court judge and Madison County weights and measures inspector
Elwood City Court Judge Kyle Noone wears many hats, but pick one word to describe him in all and it’d be “giver,” writes Democrat Lisa Hobbs, who will take a seat on the County Council in January, in her nomination letter for Noone.
In 2012, Noone, serving as YMCA board president, assisted in leading a campaign that reopened the Elwood public swimming pool along with developing new corporate partnerships that led to the creation of the Red Gold Fitness Center.
He has served as the judicial representative for the Madison County Domestic Fatality Review Team since 2008 and coordinates the annual “Beat the Heat” drive to provide fans to the underprivileged and elderly during the summer.
Hobbs wrote that Noone and wife Danielle also started “Frederick’s Friends” in memory of their late infant son to give back to Community Hospital and Saint John’s Medical Center in Anderson. The foundation will help offer moldings of a baby’s hands and feet “for parents who have been struck with the devastating loss of a child,” Hobbs wrote.
“(Noone) gives of himself to his church, his family and friends, his employer, his courtroom, his community and county without the expectation of awards or acknowledgment. He works tirelessly to better the lives of residents in his hometown city of Elwood and our county.”
Creator of The Walking Man Project in Anderson
The Walking Man urban art project symbolized everything that Levi Rinker believed in, as far as admiration for his community.
Found around town this past summer, the walking men pieces of art — 10-foot-tall metal figures — were presented as moving forward, an action reflecting the Anderson’s native hopes for the area. With support from sponsors, more than two dozen art figures were seen in front of businesses and buildings. Residents were encouraged to visit each and get a stamp from the sponsor.
Rinker saw the project as resting on a tripod supported by businesses, artists and the community. Businesses had to accept the project and provide backing for it to exist.
“It’s highlighting them, not just the sculpture. They’re the vision behind it. They’re the ones moving forward. The sculpture is kind of an icon for them,” Rinker said.
Rinker called on hundreds of businesses and got a wide range of reactions; some wouldn’t listen while others strode forward with him.
The project captured the imagination of the community.
In April, Mayor Kevin Smith interviewed Rinker on Smith’s Saturday morning radio show. The mayor said art projects could help the city’s identity.
“Think about driving up I-69 either north or south and you’re not from this area ... and say you saw these 29-30 structures all walking along I-69 in Anderson. Would that not be unique?”
Co-founder of the Geater Community Center’s Thanksgiving dinner and radio personality
James Warner has been helping serve the Madison County community with free Thanksgiving meals for 30 years.
But it’s not all he’s done as co-founder of the Geater Community Center’s annual Thanksgiving dinner.
“If I can help somebody, then my living is not in vain,” is Warner’s theme, wrote Jessie Rozier, who nominated him.
Along with the annual dinner that fed nearly 2,000 people in 2012 — some deliveries are to the elderly or sick unable to get out — Warner has supported the Black History Program, the Fire House Project and can be heard singing with his group, the Heavenly Five.
A retiree of General Motors, he’s also a local radio personality and member of the MLK Commission that organizes a three-hour radio show, including a panel of about 30 community leaders, for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Birthday Celebration at the Geater Community Center.
The show is a roundtable discussion about King focusing on education, employment, civil rights and social justice.
Through radio broadcasts, Warner has also brought nonprofit organizations into the spotlight and helped them receive donations.
“Mr. Warner is a very humble man that does not mind stepping back and allowing others to step forward,” Rozier wrote.
Rev. Robert L. Williams
Pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and St. Ambrose Church in Anderson
When the Rev. Robert Williams came to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in 1984, the faithful were being challenged by the results of Vatican II, recalled church member Mary Ann Nivens.
Worshipers were often overwhelmed by the changes. Locally, many looked to Father Bob, as he is affectionately called.
“As the years passed we all realized what a wonderful person we had in our midst ... We learned that he was vibrant, energetic, spiritual, caring, loving and the best advocate for the poor anyone could ever ask for.”
Father Bob starts his day early. He visits hospitals, jail inmates and nursing home patients while serving his congregation.
“In spite of all this, he does take time for himself,” noted Kathleen Finnegan Halleck. “He paints and has become a notable artist and he can be seen canoeing down the White River. He is known for playing the guitar and singing his Irish ballads.”
The church has developed an impressive ministry geared to Hispanics under his watch.
“He learned Spanish in order to serve the immigrants, implemented a bilingual Mass and language instruction in the school,” wrote Nancy Vaughan, president of the United Way of Madison County. “His steadfast integrity has helped me and many, many others be better citizens of Anderson and of the world.”