Self Help

Courage and commitment: Clients, staff, volunteers honored at Self Help's annual banquet –

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STERLING – Billy Masini was full of glee when he realized that his employer of 22 years, Self Help Enterprises, honored him with a developmental training award.

Like many of the award recipients Friday at Self Help’s 51st annual Client Awards Banquet, Masini, of Sterling, felt honored to be recognized for the progress he has made.

Masini held his hands to his cheeks in excitement when Executive Director Carla Haubrich called his name to receive one of two Harry Dixon Awards. He received the award from his mother, Brenda, who serves on Self Help’s board of directors.

On his way back to his table, Masini held his plaque high.

“I’m so excited I got it,” he said.

Founded in 1964, the nonprofit Self Help provides employment training and residential support for nearly 300 adults with disabilities such as alcoholism, bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and learning disabilities.

Awards were given for accomplishments in work, personality, perseverance and leadership. Staff and volunteers also were recognized, as well as those clients who observed a milestone in the number of years they have been with Self Help, in 5-year increments up to 50 years.

David Dykstra of Fulton has been with Self Help for 35 years; he was one of a few clients to be given a special award and a pin for his service milestone. He and Megan Felker were given the John L. Stern Leadership Award. It’s the second time Dykstra has won the award; he also was named the company’s best worker in 1989.

One of his recent roles has been to promote the company’s biannual pancake breakfast, which is coming up on Nov. 2.

“It was a total surprise,” he said.

Stern served as executive director of Self Help for 35 years until his death in 2011, and Dykstra got to know him real well.

“I loved John,” Dykstra said. “He loved the community. He cared about the clients at Self Help and did everything in his power to help us.

“He was the heart of Self Help.”

In all, 16 clients and three others were given awards, and 35 were given milestone pins.

Rebecca Reynolds of Rock Falls was a rare double winner. She earned the Mary Judd Award for most improved personality and the Walt Gronner Award for best worker.

“It’s actually not because of me these changes have been made, it’s all God,” Reynolds said. “I was just surprised. I didn’t know anything about this.”

Haubrich, who has been with Self Help for 40 years, praised those in attendance for trying their best and growing every day.

“Be proud of what you do, and continue to grow because you are that important to this community, and to this agency,” she said. “Don’t ever give up.”

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