Knight of Month

Knight of the Month Chairman

Jim Marino

May Knight of the Month - David Bova, Council #5754

Brother David Bova joined the Knights of Columbus in January 2021 and the Sangamon Valley Council. Without hesitation David volunteered to assist with the March 2021 local spelling bee and to serve as a Judge for the 2021 Illinois State Spelling Bee Contest hosted by the Council here in the local county in April. He quickly immersed himself in the Council's mission to help support and encourage youth to grow and achieve. Council 5754 honors David as the Knight of the Month for May 2021.

David's interest in youth is a lifelong commitment. David Bova attended the University of Illinois Springfield earning a BA Degree in Psychology in 2016, and went on to attend Ball State University, Indiana graduating in 2018 with a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He returned home not only to assist his mother and aunt, but to apply in the field for licensure in 2019.

In August 2019, he started working with the Springfield Gateway Foundation - Drug and Alcohol Treatment Facility, a nonprofit substance abuse facility located in Springfield IL. There he has made a significant impact with the families and their children. He focuses primarily on youth (ages 13-18) and some adults. He has a case load of about 30+ clients and carries a case management that includes group and individual and family therapy. At times, David had seen a caseload expand by 50% due to the ongoing pandemic - where he rose to the task. David has been breaking outpatient records for clients served in one day!

With the addition of David to the Foundation during the persistent COVID pandemic, he was able to take his tech savvy and assist the foundation team to adapt to the virtual telehealth environment. At his Boss's request, he assisted with the tools acquisition and technical training for an outpatient clinical team composed of about 10 clinicians. This change enabled the clients to remain home and receive the required counseling and eliminating the requirement to travel - a safety benefit. The feedback has been great.

David enjoys running and just recently ran a Springfield 5K achieving 3rd place. He enjoys fishing, kayaking. He supports his mom in preparation for her job as Parish Music Coordinator. David is preparing to open his own counseling practice here in the local area.

At his age, Brother David Bova brings his youth to the Council, and desire to see youth grow - an important factor to connecting with our local youth. His willingness to serve is astounding and refreshing! David has volunteered for future youth and community programs.

April Knight of the Month - Gary Pappin, Council #12801

Gary has been a Knight for 9 years. He has been an officer in our council since 2014.

This present grand knight goes well beyond his required duties and responsibilities. During these trying times with this pandemic, he kept our council running with conducting virtual state of the art virtual power point presentations for monthly planning and business meetings. He went as far as hosting and conducting a live and virtual business while visiting his grand kids in the Tennessee. Listed below are just a few accomplishment’s he performed this month:

Writes/publish weekly article parish bulletin.
Published article for Mercy Home campaign in the Daily Herald.
Helps lead virtual Pro-Life Parish committee meetings with power point presentations.
Updates council website and Facebook daily.
Awarded Supervisor Award for senior volunteer of the year- Hanover Township.
Provided Honor Guard for passed knight for wake & funeral services.
Attends monthly Lady Auxiliary meeting.
Helped organized a prayer hour service for Michael McGivney Founder’s Day for our parish.
Ushers mass 3 days or more a week.
Attends participates in weekly men’s church discussion groups (TMIY)
Awarded the knight of the month for March from the recommendations from our district deputy and deputy grand knight.
Managed our virtual 5 k race which raised over $5,000 for the Hanover township food pantry.
Represents our council for monthly 4th degree meetings.
Created fund campaign for local veteran organization.
Collected money after all masses for several for weeks that provided well needed money along with food and clothing for Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Inc. (MSHV).

March Knight of the Month - Walter Niemczyk, Council #12801

This month’s Knight of the Month has been a Knight for sixteen years. This Knight is always looking for ways to help our parish and community. He will come to the council with his ideas and solicits our help, requests funds for the project, or does it himself.

Not even Coronavirus can stop him. He has been instrumental in our “Leave no Neighbor Behind” activities. Last year when churches were closed, he personally delivered palms to over 40 parishioners, who were unable to get to church to pick them up from vases which were outside the church. He has repeatedly called Knights and parishioners to check on them throughout the pandemic. Most notably were his efforts to support homeless veterans. He collected money, gift cards, and needed personal items after all the masses for several weekends. He then delivered two truckloads of merchandise to the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, along with the money and gift cards which totaled more than $5000. Because of this, the shelter was able to meet their needs and provide an additional $100 to each veteran that visited the shelter last Thanksgiving.

You can always count on him to step forward when anyone needs help, including our pastor. If he cannot do it alone, he comes to the council asking for help. Most recently he sold our remaining wooden crosses, that the council had made, to raise funds for the parish digital signage which will be installed in the narthex once sufficient funds are raised.

He is recognized in the community as well. He purchased and delivered $400 worth of food for the Hanover Township Food Pantry from Sam’s Club and Costco, he worked with local grocers to donate food baskets for the food pantry as well as toys for the township’s holiday toy drive. He personally bought over 100 pies and delivered and donated them to the food pantry. He was just recognized at Hanover Township’s Supervisor’s Community Service Awards as Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year for all his contributions to the community.

He is involved in other church ministries as well, serving as head usher among other things. He is our pastor’s go-to knight when he needs something. Most of all, this knight is humble. He will not be happy with this recognition because he always says it is not him, it is the council that deserves credit. Through his leadership we met or exceeded all of our IL State Charitable goals for this year. He truly exemplifies what it means to be a Knight. This council is fortunate to have him as a member.

February Knight of the Month - Keith Adams, Council #16446

St. Patrick - McHenry has chosen Keith Adams as our February Knight of the Month. Brother Keith serves as our council's Worthy Financial Secretary and fulfills the duties of this role in an unparalleled manner. He coordinates every submission of every form, tracks membership, bills, etc. and is on top of EVERYTHING that role entails. He communicates clear records of all council volunteer hours and has been a great resource for new members who navigating online exemplifications and transfers. Additionally, as a relatively new council, the time came for us to start having a yearly budget that allowed us to better manage and plan our council's fundraising and spending. Brother Keith was instrumental in communicating with our Worthy Treasurer and looking at our past years' income and expenditures to develop an incredible budget that is both simple and detailed all at the same time. (I'm not a finances guy at all and even I was able to follow it all!)

He is a volunteer at nearly every kind of council activity, such as the Holiday Meals food program, ID Drive, and Coats for Kids. In our council meetings our chaplain leads us in a Gospel reflection and discussion for the upcoming weekends reading and Brother Keith is always very willing to share his ideas, experiences, etc. with our membership. The things he says are always insightful and relevant to his life, but easily applicable to the rest of us as well. Outside of our council, Brother Keith is active in a variety of ways as a smiling usher who greets everyone who attends masses each weekend. When circumstances allowed, he was an active member of serving meals, setting up and cleaning up from events such as Oktoberfest, etc. His wife, Cecilia, is the parish music director and they are a couple that is constantly present and active in ministries throughout our parish!

January Knight of the Month - Joe Cook, Council #5025

Joe Cook was born and raised in St Mary of the Woods Parish. He and his six siblings attended St Mary of the Woods grammar school. Joe attended Loyola Academy, then went to Columbia University in New York City, where he earned a degree in history and played football earning All Ivy League Honors as a Linebacker.

Joe earned his law degree at The John Marshall Law School and began his law career at the Cook County States Attorney Office assigned to the Criminal Appeals, the Narcotics Bureau, and the Gang Crimes Unit. Joe also serves as a Major in the United States Air Force JAG Corp, where he is currently assigned as Area Defense Council for the National Guard. In addition, Joe currently works as a senior attorney for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Community service is also integral to Joe's personal life. He has been a volunteer coach at numerous schools including St Mary of the Woods and DePaul Prep. Previously, Joe served as president of the Holy Name Society at St Mary of the Woods Parish. Currently, he serves as the Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Tripp Healy Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on providing scholarship opportunities for underserved students.

Joe took his First Degree in August of 2018. He has been an active member in the Fr Ryan Council ever since and currently serves as Program Director. He attends all of events including fund raising events and frequently volunteers to serve on committees.

In 2019, Joe served as Chairman for the Free Throw Contest and successfully engaged 45 participants and several parents. This was the most widely attended and successful Free Throw Contest in recent years.

Joe and his wife, Jenny, are active members in SMOW and attend Mass regularly as a family. Joe's Catholic faith runs deep and strong. He exemplifies the Knights of Columbus core values of Faith-Family-Fraternity and serves his parish and community exponentially.

December Knight of the Month - Robert Becci, Council #654

Assisted with KCIC Poster contest, Assisted with Essay contest, Faith Director Council 654 2020-2021, 1 Yr Trustee Council 654 2020-2021, even at his advanced age participates in majority of Council activities and very active in parish activities

November Knight of the Month - John Heneghan, Council #4849

John has been a Knight in our council for 10 years, and has participated in our 5K walk/runs since their inception in 2017, in memory of deceased Sir Knight Mark Bancroft, who was a member of our council. In addition, John has served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Symphony Nursing Home until the pandemic. When we were permitted to attend Holy Mass again in the Rockford diocese (June 2020), John and his wife Pat stepped up to help with cleaning and ushering for various Masses and has continued to help since.

October Knight of the Month - Matthew Duckworth, Council #12801

This month’s Knight of the Month has only been a Knight for two years. When the call went out for volunteers to help reopen St. John’s he and his wife were among the first to answer that call. Since that time, they have both been assisting at their assigned mass every weekend since June. They also assist at Wednesday and other Weekday masses as needed. They have definitely stepped into the breach to welcome parishioners back to church. He is also an active member of That Man is You in our parish. He is putting faith in action, especially during this pandemic.

September Knight of the Month - Jim Baker, Council #5754

Jim Baker has been a steady voice for the unborn and support to mothers and their babies. In September, Jim, and his wife Nancy, were instrumental in the preparation for, and presentation of, the Silver Rose at the Holy Family Mass and Prayer Service honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. In September, he has launched a Baby Bottle Boomerang to support the First Step Women's Center in Springfield helping to provide materials and supplies to support the counseling and administering of the ultrasound for women who are indecisive to staying the course to motherhood.

In the past, he was effective in collecting support for the mobile van and ultrasounds. He also actively collects supplies and donations for the Pregnancy Care Center of Springfield, supporting newborns and their mothers. Although Jim has served most Council positions (e.g., Deputy Grand Knight to Treasurer) in his career, he continues to serve where needed, recently as Trustee, and now Parish Pro-Life Chair and Blood Coordinator for his area, key in this time of pandemic. Jim also gives blood at least two times a year. He is a steady member of the team in Athens for the September Intellectual Disabilities Fund Drive.

Jim Baker has been a model for the Knights of Columbus, serving the Council, his Parish, and the community. Although Jim has given up his role as organist (8 years) and Eucharistic Minister, he continues to serve as Lecturer for his Parish. You will find him supporting the Church through Spaghetti Fund Drives, in supporting youth encounter programs and supporting Marriage Encounters for the community.

With dedicated, yet quiet service, compassion and devotion to family, a desire to grow his family and the future youth, with a sense of desire to help other families and their marriages, Jim stands as an example for all. We present James Baker as Council 5754's Knight of the Month. His long and dedicated service in faith and service can be seen in his dedication to his spouse, his four faithful children -- the oldest a Deacon in the Chicago area, and multiple grandchildren throughout Illinois, a family of faith and service!

August Knight of the Month - Tim Wuerger, Council #11091

Tim has been a great Knight for us. He's been overlooked for Knight of Month for too long. He helped with our recycled program this month help dropping off of the cans at the recycling center. His hitch broke during the trip but he didn't complain at all. We get another truck and got the cans delivered and our check.

July Knight of the Month - Paul Braddock, Council #12497

Paul Braddock is a committed Knight who has led our Council as Membership Chairman for many years, stepping down this year. In past he has led all sorts of activities from our "Easter Egg" hunts, "Knight Before Christmas" membership drive, to our highly successful multi-parish event "Mercy For The Starving" raising over $31,000 where over 700 people gathered over 3 days to pack meals under the Feed My Starving Children program.

I am recommending Paul for Knight of the Month for the following NEW program. In conjunction with our Ladies Aux. group and and St. Patrick Parish Service Committee established the "Operation Brighten Someone's Day". The purpose is to make fresh flower arrangements and delivery them to residents in assistant living centers. A committee member approached a local merchant for fresh flower donations that are typically disposed of at a point in time. Having flowers but lacking vessels, Paul arranged with the LAX and the Knights to collect unused vases. The members collected about 70 vases which will be used to make fresh flower arrangements to be delivered to those residents in assisted living centers to "Brighten Their Days".

Clearly a great Knights (with help from LAX and others) program that helps to Leave No Neighbor Behind.

June Knight of the Month - Charles Graziano, Council #12801

This month’s Knight of the Month has been a Knight for 17 years. He has been an officer in our council since 2009. He wears many hats in our council. As cook, he can be found in our kitchen every pancake breakfast, fish fry, and church picnic. He runs our bingo tent at the village summer celebration each year – getting volunteers to work the tent, setting up the speaker system, and calling bingo. In fact, he has been there the entire 3 days of the event year after year. He helps at our annual 5k, which benefits our local food pantry. In addition, he has been a gold sponsor of our 5k event for the seven years we have held it. He has been a large part of our Leave No Neighbor Behind response, shopping for and delivering food to our local pantry. His officer position requires many hours of work behind the scenes completing paperwork and keeping the council’s books in order.

May Knight of the Month - Jim Russell, Council #8699

Jim has been our recorder for the last four years and was Comptroller for our Assembly for a year. Since the Corona Virus Pandemic Jim has helped me with setting up our meeting on Webex. He has also helped me organize a family rosary prayer night on Webex. Jim had to assist three of our brothers with navigating on Webex. One of our brothers who is confined to his home due to physical limitation needed an extra amount of help which Jim gave him. Jim also helped a brother knight with his computer which he was having trouble with. This brother is living in a retirement home and can't have visitors so Jim went and pickup his computer at the receptionist's desk and took it home. He worked on it for 2 days and finally returned it to the facility in good working order. Jim has called numerous brother knights and a widow of a brother checking on their health and well being. He is practicing our initiative of Not Leaving a Neighbor Behind.

April Knight of the Month - Gary Gleason, Council #1911

Gary is dedicated Knight, serving as our Council's Recorder and as an officer in our home corporation, the 1911 Club. During April, as our hall was closed due to the state stay-at-home order, Gary spent many hours on improvement projects and maintaining the hall, getting it ready for our council blood drive. As the blood drive was happening during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gary, who has expertise in asepsis procedures, saw the need for PPE to ensure safety at the event. He was able to procure and donate protective gloves, masks and face shields for the donors and volunteers. Gary monitored safety practices at the event and even had time to make a last minute blood donation.

March Knight of the Month - Charles Gust, Council 14825

Charlie is an exemplary Knight. A charter member of the Council, Charlie was instrumental at establishing and leading our biggest fundraiser, the Fish Fries. He rose through the ranks to become Grand Knight.

He has lead the Fish Fries, a monumental task, for the ten years of the Councils existence. In this time, he has always made an effort to speak to all who work the events and most of the attendees, encouraging unity and promoting fraternity among the council members and our St Rita community. We choose to honor him on the anniversary of our council for his dedication, his hard work and his good humor.

February Knight of the Month - Robert Perri, Council 12801

This month’s Knight of the Month has been a Knight for 14 years. He transferred to our council a couple years ago and has been instrumental in starting new fund-raising programs. The first program he was involved in was The Cross Light in the Darkness. Most recently he introduced plastic collection boxes which are placed in local businesses. The funds raised by these programs have increased our ability to fund more charitable projects. He has served in many positions over the years, and is currently our Advocate and Charity Ambassador to the State Council.

January Knight of the Month - Gary A. Ludwig, Council 11100

He has taken care of our Council's Free Throw Shooting Contest for the past 10 years, for the first years he had it on Sunday, then he move to having the contest during the school day, were he could get the students to patriciate, with the partition of the principal, witch brought numbers up, so we could send contestants to the district. the first years that he was in charge he got trophies then for the last three years he got K of C Basketballs. He ordered the paper work and filled it. He makes sure that the parents know when the District contest is, so that our council is well represented. He goes to the district to help out and to bring the paper work so no forms are lost. This year there was 91 patriciates in our contest.

December Knight of the Month - Jason E. Tornero, Council 735

Brother Jason was part of a discussion to take our banner to be put in a frame. This banner is over 100 years old. when taken to be cleaners we were told that because of its age that it would be destroyed in the process. Brother Jason took significant time to research getting the banner mounted and framed with the dated framing, To all members including our Parish Priest Rev Brian A. Geary it looks amazing.

November Knight of the Month - Larry White, Council 8699

Larry is very active in our council and is a past Grand Knight. He has been our chair person for recruiting for many years. We had a very successful recruitment in November with 8 names of candidates which are coming in the future to receive the Admission Degree. Larry was present at all the masses for our recruitment weekend. He plays a large part in organizing and in the operation of our pancake breakfasts. He also play the role of the Grand Knight during our Admission Degree Ceremonies and is exceptional speaker.

October Knight of the Month - Br. Felix Martinez, Council 14825

Felix participates in many events and has served as an officer in St Rita of Cascia Council. That is not what separated Felix as an exemplary Brother Knight: after Felix retired he became the unpaid handyman for St Rita's Church and School. He lead the effort to update the Parish Hall replacing the ceiling and the paneling, he assisted updating the parish center and the Rectory.

While his commitment to the parish singles him out as an exemplary Brother Knight, this month his service to the council shined in our moment of need. We held a Knighthood Degree and he helped beforehand to insure that the elevator from the basement Parish Hall was working. Alas, it failed at the end of the day, trapping a brother knight. When called, Felix responded quickly to repair and remove the trapped Knight......

That Knight was none other than the recently retired Deputy Supreme Knight, Dr. Logan Ludwig.

September Knight of the Month - Greg Koester, Council 665

Greg coordinated two of Council 665's biggest events which both fell in September. He was very involved in both the Tootsie Roll Drive and the Family Picnic.

While there was a committee of Brother Knights, including Greg, that were in charge of the Tootsie Roll Drive, Greg was the coordinator. He got the committee members together, he ordered the tootsie rolls and other supplies. He also made all of the food to feed the volunteers.

As for the Family Picnic, for the second year there was no committee taking care of the event, just Greg. He made sure all of the food and drinks were on hand and there were people to prepare it. He took care of getting prizes to give away to a lucky young lady and young man. He had some student volunteers to provide face painting and he had a kiddie tractor pull group on hand to entertain both the kids and the adults.

Honestly, Greg could be nominated every month. We thought this month he was most deserving.

August Knight of the Month - Alex Reichmann, Council 13840

Brother Riechmann has contributed tirelessly maintaining and improving our Fry shed and our many fryers. He worked long hours at our 4th of July food stand, as well as set-up and tear down. He worked shifts at the Monroe County Fair where the council get money for. He was our first Grand Knight when the council stood up. He has organized new events such as Waterloo homecoming stand. He has helped over the years at our stand at the Maeystown Oktoberfest. He attends the majority of our meetings, and he attends Mass regularly.

July Knight of the Month - Frank Esposito, Council 12801

This Knight’s response to a request for help is almost always, “When is it / Where is it / I’ll be there”. He has several soft spots, among them the Special Olympics and Respect Life in particular. He is active in the parish serving as a minister of communion and various other capacities. Despite personal issues and illness, he successfully led our council as Grand Knight for the past 2 fiscal years. Through his leadership, we had record years of service hours and charitable donations.