Stan Newnam Wins ‘Neighborly’ Award for Decades of Outstanding Volunteerism

Aug 24, 2020

Stan Newnam Wins ‘Neighborly’ Award for Decades of Outstanding Volunteerism
Credit Photo Provided | WSIU

Mount Vernon, IL – Stan Newnam is a volunteer affiliated with the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in Mount Vernon. About six years ago when he was chair of trustees, he became involved in the children’s program at Otterbein United Methodist Church (OUMC) in Bluford. Stan used FUMC’s van and drove about 30 kids round trip to an evening program run by OUMC throughout the school years. In May 2018 there was a fire at OUMC, and the church facility had to be completely rebuilt. Since he’s retired and had overseen many projects in the past, Stan offered to help the OUMC by coordinating that reconstruction project. He also continued to drive the children round trip to their program while the church was rebuilt, utilizing the parsonage or outdoors, weather permitting. 

WSIU Public Broadcasting, a service of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is pleased to announce Stan Newnam as the new “Individual” recipient of the ‘Neighborly’ award. 

“I appreciate Angela Schrum submitting my name. I don’t know if I’m even worthy of this. I do it because it’s something that needed to be done. I can look around and see other people who are doing a lot more than I am, but I think ultimately it still comes down to people who are willing to step forward, whatever their skill set, and utilize their talents or their time to do the things that need to be done, especially when it’s things that are giving back to the community or helping people in need. I think that’s really what it comes down to,” said awardee Stan Newnam.

I do it because it’s something that needed to be done. I can look around and see other people who are doing a lot more than I am, but I think ultimately it still comes down to people who are willing to step forward, whatever their skill set, and utilize their talents or their time to do the things that need to be done, especially when it’s things that are giving back to the community or helping people in need.

Stan is also on the board of Angels on Assignment, a food pantry and thrift store that provides assistance for basic family needs, such as rent, food and utilities. A little over 25 years ago, a woman started this food pantry in a corner of the basement, and it’s now a mission of the First United Methodist Church. He inherited co-leadership of another project where Angels on Assignment acts as an outreach arm for the Salvation Army. Even before he retired, Stan was involved in projects with Angels on Assignment, building wheelchair ramps, which included designing the ramps and getting the materials and the volunteers lined up. He’s the kind of guy who remodeled his own kitchen and bathroom. 

Expressing his views on being a good neighbor and what it means to him, Newnam said, “It really started with how I was raised. I grew up on a dairy farm back in the sixties, and so unlike today when there’s a lot of mechanization, especially with livestock, you relied on neighbors. Your neighbors got together to bale hay. If you wanted to take a weekend off to go someplace for a wedding, a neighbor had to come in and milk the cows. I grew up in an environment where if somebody needed something, you stepped forward and did it, whether that’s helping them physically or supporting them in whatever that happened to be. I’ve lived in five different communities, and it always seems like there’s somebody in the community I look up to and respect that keeps me grounded and focused on those kinds of things.”

“My dad was skilled in a lot of areas being a farmer, but even beyond what a normal farmer does, he could repair anything. He could do electrical work, plumbing, mechanics, all that kind of stuff. He was willing to step up and help when somebody needed something. I grew up in an environment where everybody was your neighbor and everybody was your friend. There were, of course, different denominations of churches and different economic groups there like any community.”

I grew up in an environment where everybody was your neighbor and everybody was your friend.

Stan grew up in Central Illinois about 30 miles from Bloomington. He went to college for agricultural economics and ended up working for the FS System, which supplies fertilizers, chemicals, seeds and petroleum to farmers. Stan started right out of college and spent his entire career there. For the first half of his career, he sold fertilizer chemicals and seeds. In the second half, he did more sales training, market plan development and strategic planning.

“I think there’s still a fairly strong community spirit. I grew up in a relatively small town of about 3000 people. My kindergarten graduating class probably had four people who were different from the same people. I grew up where there was a lot of community involvement, and while Mount Vernon is a larger community, I see the churches and ministerial alliance come together. I see a lot of cooperation in trying to improve the community and help those that need help. From a personal standpoint, a lot of my effort ends up being filtered through the church.”

“Stan Newnam started out as a volunteer from FUMC in Mount Vernon, driving a bus to pick up and take kids home from our children’s program at OUMC about 15 minutes east of Mount Vernon. He did this for several years, once a week, and it enabled many kids to come to our Kid’s Quest program. Several changes ensued at OUMC, and there was a fire in May 2018. Stan has made it a full-time unpaid job to organize all of the insurance and construction work to get OUMC rebuilt to fit the new specifications of being a building that serves children primarily. The words I write do not do justice to the contribution he has selflessly given. Without him, there likely would not have been rebuilding. It definitely would not have been as nice and suited to fit the needs of these children because the congregation of OUMC has diminished and aged to the point they could not have undertaken such an endeavor,” said nominator Angela Schrum.

About One Region All Neighbors

Inspired by the life and legacy of Fred Rogers and in honor of his 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. Winners are chosen from nominations submitted by the public in five categories— individual, youth, educator, community group, and business. WSIU recognizes these winners on its television and radio stations, website and social media.

Nominate Your Neighbors

WSIU encourages the public to participate in the One Region, All Neighbors campaign by nominating neighbors online at http://www.wsiu.org/neighbor 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. They 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 at wsiu.org and on WSIU's Facebook and Twitter pages.