Harriet Furst Simon Wins 'Good Neighbor' Award for Decades of Outstanding Volunteerism

Sep 20, 2019

Carbondale, IL – WSIU is pleased to announce Harriet Furst Simon as the new individual recipient of the monthly ‘Good Neighbor’ award as a part of WSIU’s One Region, All Neighbors initiative. Inspired by Fred Rogers, the campaign recognizes people who exemplify kindness and compassion and make a positive impact in their communities.

A member of the Dean's Club at SIUC, Harriet Furst Simon retired from the Dewey Center at SIU in 2012, where she worked since 1977. For more than a quarter-century, she did much of the marketing coordination for the Friends Book Sales, which raises $8,000 - $15,000 per year for the Carbondale Public Library. She also serves on the library's Board of Trustees. An English major of Goucher College from Baltimore, Maryland, Harriet Furst Simon moved to Carbondale in 1964 and joined the League of Women Voters. She served on the Board of Directors of the Ulysses S. Grant Association since the organization's founding in 1962. As a contributing editor for over 40 years, she not only contributed to the publication of 30 volumes of the Papers of Ulysses S. Grant but also donated 1,800 historically valuable books related to him.

"Reaching out makes you feel very good. You're really doing something that's needed, wanted, and desired. People recognize it and they thank you. When they came to the book sales, often they would thank us so much for volunteering all our time and it’s very satisfying. You know that you’re helping but you do get something out of it yourself. The gratification, the knowledge that you're helping. So, it’s a win-win all around," said awardee Harriet Furst Simon.

You can't help everybody in every way... but I think you can choose which ways you would like to help your neighbors and your community.

In addition to the book sale, another one of Harriet’s major interests is the highly successful local Head Start outreach program where every year the Friends give schoolchildren a small book with a bookplate that says – "if you enjoy this book, come to the public library and get more." In 1995, she established the Philip Furst Simon Memorial Fund that provides $1,000 or more to the Carbondale Public Library for the purchase of children's and teen materials in memory of her son each year. In addition to her service with the Friends, she has provided thoughtful leadership with a strong appreciation for the value of literacy, reading, lifelong learning, information, and community service.

Expressing her views on being a good neighbor and what that means to her, Simon said "You can't help everybody in every way, and everybody has their own busy lives and all, but I think you can choose which ways you would like to help your neighbors and your community. You know, if you enjoy something it makes it worthwhile but also, you're helping people."

Harriet's community work expands beyond the library. She served as a volunteer literacy tutor through the John A. Logan literacy program and as a volunteer reader for the Southern Illinois Radio Information Service, which provides access to newspapers and other material to blind and print-impaired individuals.

Nominator Diana Brawley Sussman, Director of the Carbondale Public Library said, "A good neighbor tries to build up their community, improving the quality of life for everyone. One of Harriet’s favorite John Dewey quotes is 'What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children.' This ethic is reflected in her volunteer work for the library."

Harriet once mentioned to the Library Director that she admired the American philosopher and educator John Dewey in part because he was constantly "striving to live according to his beliefs." This is exactly what her friends and colleagues admire about her as well.

About One Region, All Neighbors

WSIU’s One Region, All Neighbors campaign is inspired by the life and legacy of Fred Rogers. For more than thirty years, Fred Rogers reached into homes and hearts with his children’s public television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers’ career demonstrated the power of kindness and transformed our understanding of childhood. His legacy lives on through Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. The spirit of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood continues with Fred Rogers Productions, creator of award-winning programs such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Peg+Cat, and Odd Squad, which are broadcast daily on the PBS KIDS line-up on WSIU Public Television. Activities, interactive games, and videos associated with these programs are available online.

Fred calls upon us to "Imagine what our real neighbors would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person. There have been so many stories about the lack of courtesy, the impatience of today's world, road rage and even restaurant rage. Sometimes, all it takes is one kind word to nourish another person. Think of the ripple effect that can be created when we nourish someone. One kind empathetic word has a wonderful way of turning into many."

In honor of Fred Rogers’ vision, WSIU’s One Region, All Neighbors initiative encourages community members to nominate those who are making positive contributions through acts of kindness, compassion, and service. Each month during 2019, winners are chosen from nominations submitted by the public in five categories - individual, youth, educator, community group, and business. WSIU recognizes these winners on our television and radio stations, WSIU website and social media. All awardees and nominators will be invited to attend a special ceremony where they each will be recognized for their outstanding contributions in their communities.

Nominate Your Neighbors

WSIU encourages the public to participate in One Region, All Neighbors campaign by nominating neighbors online and sharing on social media using #WeAreAllNeighbors.

About WSIU Public Broadcasting

WSIU Public Broadcasting is licensed to the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University and is an integral part of the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts on the Carbondale campus. The WSIU stations reach more than five million people across six states and beyond through five digital public television channels, three public radio stations, a radio information service, a website, and education and outreach services.

WSIU's mission is to improve the quality of life of the people they serve. The WSIU stations partner with other community organizations to promote positive change and to support the academic and public service missions of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Learn more and get the latest station news online and on WSIU's Facebook and Twitter pages.

WSIU's programs and services are partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.