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Jack Shales Spirit of Community Award

"As I celebrate my 60th anniversary as a United Way volunteer, I am filled with many fond memories. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people and great organizations, building friendships that have lasted a lifetime.  I can't think of a better way for any of us to touch so many lives and know that we're making a real difference.  That's why I LIVE UNITED." --Jack Shales, 2014

In 2004, our longest serving volunteer Jack Shales celebrated his 50th anniversary with United Way of Elgin. To honor that achievement, we created our highest award, the Jack Shales Spirit of Community Award, which is given annually to a company that shows exceptional corporate responsibility and community involvement.

Jack began his involvement with United Way in 1954 as a campaign volunteer. He served on the board for many years, including as board chair in 1988.  Jack has also chaired the annual campaign several times, most recently as the Honorary Chair for the 2013-14 campaign. In 2017, he celebrated 63 years of volunteer service to United Way of Elgin.

Our dear friend Jack passed away in January 2018. This award continues to honor his memory and legacy of service.


2018 Winner: Dan and Karen Fox

When you think of the words "volunteer" and "Elgin," the first names to pop into your head are likely "Dan and Karen Fox." They have served the Elgin community for over 30 years, sometimes together and other times working separately. But over the years, they have left their mark on dozens of organizations.

As young teachers at Conant High School, Dan and Karen moved to Elgin in 1975. During his time teaching social studies, Dan helped initiate one of the first mandatory student community service programs in Illinois. Dan served on the Elgin City Council from 1987 – 1995, including three years with Marlene Shales. Seeing a need to train others to serve on boards and committees, he and Don Waters co-founded the Elgin Leadership Academy in 1990 and both continue to co-facilitate this program today. Seeking participants that represent the rich diversity of Elgin, the Leadership Academy boasts more than 475 alumni, many of whom serve in leadership positions throughout the community. Dan has served on multiple non-profit boards during the years, including starting his 16th year with PADS of Elgin.

Karen taught for 17 years, and then left teaching for the non-profit world. She eventually returned to education with School District U-46, retiring as the Chief of Family and Community Engagement. She first joined United Way of Elgin's board in 2003, serving for 10 years. After two years off, Karen agreed to come back on the board in 2014 as Chair-Elect, and then served as Board Chair for two years. She has also been campaign chair, twice, in 2006 and 2007, in addition to serving on numerous UWE committees, including chairing the Education Investments Committee in 2017. Oh, and just for fun, Karen joined the United Way of Illinois Board of Directors, where she still serves as Secretary, and was appointed to the Illinois Attendance Commission.

And then there is the volunteer work Dan and Karen have done together. They have chaired the Community Crisis Center's Annual Auction since 2006. It is fitting that they are receiving the Jack Shales Award, since, about 5 years ago, it was Jack himself who bribed them with a $5,000 donation to the Crisis Center if they stayed on as chairs. They have also volunteered with the Gail Borden Public Library for many years, writing scripts and training docents for the library's exhibits, like Dinosaurs and SuperCroc.

This year was the first year without Jack there to help present the award, but we are sure he whole-heartedly approves of honoring Dan and Karen Fox for their tireless dedication to Elgin.


Past Winners

2016 - Elgin Sweeper Company

2015 - Grand Victoria Casino

2014 - Elgin Community College

2013 - Jack and Marlene Shales

2012 - Chase Card Services

2010 - Hoffer Plastics Corporation

2009 - Sherman Health

2008 - First Community Bank

2007 - IHC Construction Companies

2006 - City of Elgin

2005 - ITW

2004 - Seigle's