Fundraising goals met for Rend Lake College music program

Shawna Hall speaks to hundreds of guests at the 2012 Rend Lake College Foundation Annual Dinner, held Dec. 6, in Mount Vernon. Hall, CEO of the RLCF, took the opportunity to announce that a campaign to raise funds for facility and equipment upgrades in RLC’s music program has generated more than double the initial funding goal of $50,000. Looking on, from left, are event Master of Ceremonies and Publisher Jim Muir, and RLC President Terry Wilkerson.


A crescendo of support from music and education enthusiasts in the area made it possible for the Rend Lake College Foundation to reach more than twice its funding goal of $50,000 for “The Music Project.”

RLCF CEO Shawna Hall made the announcement Thursday night at the RLCF Annual Dinner Meeting in Mount Vernon. The project is aimed at upgrading the RLC music department’s facilities and equipment. It’s initial goal was set at $50,000. More than $100,000 has since been raised.

Hall spoke to the hundreds of guests in attendance about how grateful the students and faculty are to receive such generosity. She thanked them for their commitment to bettering the college and its students, saying the project had personal significance for her. Hall is among those who contributed money to the campaign.

A video presentation, prepared by Bruce Baldwin of Baldwin Media Development, asked viewers to “imagine a world without music.” The video featured students and administrators, RLC Music Director Sara Alstat, RLCF Board Member and RLC Trustee Randy Rubenacker, and RLCF Board Member Mary Ellen Aiken, a Benton resident who championed the project as its co-chair with Hall.

“It occurred to me while I was watching it that each person we featured in that video only took one take to tell their story,” Hall said. “… I believe the reason they all did so well is that they are passionate about this campaign. They truly understand what a world without music would be like and they understand that our music department is how we bring the community into our community college. They don’t need a script. They are speaking from their hearts.

“I want to thank my campaign chair, Mary Ellen Aiken, and each and every person who donated to this,” Hall added. “Without Mary Ellen and all of our donors, we would not be able to do this.”

Through the campaign, supporters were asked to meet a number of needs in the music program, including remodeling the practice rooms, upgrading music rooms, providing scholarship funding, and purchasing equipment like risers, lockers and a library system.

Contributors to the project include Mary Ellen and John D. Aiken, Hunt Bonan, Scott and Jenifer Spears, Dr. Gary and Karen Sweeten, Mary Pericolosi, Peoples National Bank, Randy Rubenacker, George and Mary Slankard, Buster Leeck, Cindy Leeck, Steven Beal, Shawna Hall, Chris Kuberski, Dr. Robert and Marilyn Parks, Dr. Warren and Phyllis Petty, the 2013 RLC Concert Choir, the 2013 RLC Concert Band, Sara Alstat, Cindy Caldwell, Millie Caldwell, Cathy Cross, John Kabat, Mark and Pat Kern, Larry Phifer, Matthew Flanigan, Jim and Marian Leuty, Tom Malkovich, Trish Reed, Dr. Sue Tomlin, and Rich and Donna Yunkus.

Over the past year: More than 700 students have enrolled in music classes of various types at RLC; More than 1,200 individuals have attended dinner theatres, concerts and other musical events; and nearly 1,500 people went to musicals and other theatrical events. Every one of these individuals will be affected by the upcoming renovations to the music department at RLC.

Work was quickly underway last week in the music department. As soon as students had finished taking their fall semester final examinations, equipment was being moved to make room for facility upgrades.

For more about the music program at RLC, visit online at

Rend Lake College Foundation director Leuty receives Presidential Award

Rend Lake College Foundation board member Jim Leuty receives the RLCF Presidential Award at the foundation’s annual dinner Thursday night. Presenting the award to Leuty is RLC President Terry Wilkerson, left, and RLCF CEO Shawna Hall.


Jim Leuty received the Rend Lake College Foundation Presidential Award during the RLCF Annual Dinner Meeting Thursday night at the Mount Vernon Holiday Inn.

Leuty, 49, of Mount Vernon, is a CPA and partner at Krehbiel and Associates accounting firm. He is one of the newer members to the RLCF Board of Directors. However, his firm’s work on the Foundation’s audit in past years makes him very familiar with its functions.

With another firm conducting the most recent audits of the RLCF, Leuty found himself on the other side of the process. Foundation officials said it was his work on this audit that made Leuty deserving of the RLCF Presidential Award.

Shawna Hall, CEO of the Foundation, said Leuty was active in a series of long meetings about the audit.

“His expertise was vital,” said Hall. “I can’t thank him enough for his willingness to go above and beyond for the Foundation. It was reassuring to have him there as we went through the audit. But it doesn’t stop with the audit. Jim is always there to help out with our monthly financials or anything else we need.”

The RLCF Presidential Award is among the institution’s most prestigious honors and is reserved for an RLCF Board Member who shows exemplary service. The first recipients were Hunt Bonan, Mildred Fitzgerrell, Richard Garner and Howard L. Payne in 1995. Jim Kelly was the 1996 recipient, followed by Sam Mateer in 1997, Jimmy Fulks in 1998, Wendell Maulding in 1999, Rich Yunkus in 2000, Dr. Warren Petty in 2001, Bill Regenhardt and Mark Ballard in 2002, Dr. Gene Stotlar and Dr. Charles W. Roe in 2003, Dr. Robert Parks in 2004, Terry Addington in 2005, Millie Caldwell in 2006, Bob Thomason in 2007, Mary Ellen Aiken in 2008, Ed Cunningham in 2009, and Steve Rowland in 2010.

For more about the Foundation, visit online at

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