Hundreds of area leaders were on hand Thursday evening at the Knights of Columbus as the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce honored citizens and organizations that had an impact on the community in 2013.
The awards banquet began with an introductory speech by 2014 Chamber President Dr. Jim Roberts following dinner. The superintendent of Batesville schools elated the crowd as he poked fun at his rural upbringing in Gnaw Bone, In.
He joked, “We thought modem is what we just did in the hay fields, software–we were using plastic forks spoons and knives!”
Roberts was serious about his goals for the community as president of the chamber.
“Our vision is that the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce will contribute to the recognition of the Batesville community as one of the most unique and fascinating small towns in the nation.”
The chamber presented the first award to Project T3 for Distinguished Organization. Before the organization was formed, foster children in southeastern Indiana were given garbage bags to put their belongings in when they moved. The project provides those children an overnight bag to transport their belongings along with some age-appropriate items.
Project T3 now provides over 6,000 backpacks to foster children in fifteen counties in Indiana, founder Carrie Wessler said Thursday.
“I thought this was going to be a small community project that would help the children of Ripley County,” Wessler explained. “But again, God had bigger plans.”
Linda Ortman has taught eighth grade math for twenty-six years at St. Louis School. On Thursday, the chamber recognized her dedication to students in and out of the classroom. Prior to accepting the award, St. Louis Principal Chad Moeller introduced Ortman and her impact on her young pupils.
Students throughout the state participate in end of course assessments (ECA) to measure achievement in subject areas such as mathematics. Moeller said, “In the past five years, 100 percent of her students have passed the ECA.”
The state adds a category to the assessment for high achieving students. Her students also recorded a 100 percent in the past five years.
“Mrs. Ortman’s results are outstanding and amazing. I also think there are other aspects to her teaching that are just as important as academic achievement. Students need to know someone cares about them, and often times teachers need to fill that role. Mrs. Ortman excels in this area,” Moeller said.
She accepted the award noting “I truly do love teaching and find it very rewarding. God blessed me with a wonderful family and led me to a rewarding profession as a teacher.”
The chamber recognized Carolyn Dieckmann for her volunteerism to the community. Batesville resident Ham Struewing introduced her, describing her giving spirit and association with many organizations, schools, and events throughout the area.
“I am blessed to do all that I do and I look for opportunities to share my time and talent with others,” Dieckmann said. “Sometimes a simple nudge is all it takes to get people and you meet so many wonderful people along the way.”
She challenged the audience to “turn me into we, so we can serve with a humble and compassionate heart. It sure would make a big difference.”
The chamber gave a special recognition to long-time educator Jim Helms. He fulfilled his 51st year in education when he retired as Ivy Tech Southeast Chancellor on Jan. 15.
He spoke about the partnerships formed between the college and local businesses, schools and students.
“We have collectively put together a good thing for the future,” Helms said. “I hope when we look back we say man, that was a good move.”
A non-profit organization was established in 1997 to provide intervention services to victims of domestic violence and help them overcome the challenges of an environment they may have previously felt was inescapable.
That is Safe Passage, created by Jane Yorn. She was awarded with the Distinguished Service Award by the chamber on Thursday. She was introduced by Dan Mattingly, president of the Safe Passage Board. He attributed Jane’s work, along with the organization’s staff, to not only saving lives but transforming lives.
Fewer than eight percent of Safe Passage clients returned to their abuser last year.
The organization provides victim services throughout the region with a residential shelter, outreach services and a 24 hour toll-free help line (1-877-733-1990).
In the early days of Safe Passage, the crisis hotline rang into the home of Yorn. During her speech, she thanked her family for helping her answer those calls and even moving women into safety in the middle of the night.
The non-profit has now provided services to over 4,000 individuals since 1997.
Yorn accepted the award and challenged the crowd of three hundred to continue the effort to curb the violence that affects 1 in 3 women, including teenagers.
“My hope tonight is that we all seize the moments that move our lives in this great community –to a model of peace, respect and justice,” Yorn said.
“God bless you all and God bless the greatest little city on earth,” she concluded.