Oregon’s newest Citizen of the Year was on his way to northern Wisconsin Aug. 16 when the awards were presented at the annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner.
Roger Cain said he had no idea he was receiving the award.
His first inkling came when one of the people with him started getting text messages to that effect.
“There’s very little cell phone service up there, and only one person with me had service at all,” he said chuckling. “His cell phone started blowing up with text messages.”
Cain said that during the previous week, Chamber Executive Director Debbie Dickson had tried to convince him to postpone his trip north long enough to attend the dinner.
“I definitely was surprised. I appreciate it,” he said. “I like working behind the scenes. I like working for this community because it’s done so much for me.”
Dickson recognized Cain’s efforts when she presented the award at the dinner held at the Oregon Fire Station.
“Always working silently, stealthily behind the scenes, and never one to seek recognition for efforts invested, this ‘semi-retired’ lifelong citizen of Oregon has contributed to quality of life as a business owner and as a volunteer in our community for more than 40 years,” she said before announcing his name.
The recipient of the Business of the Year was also almost a no-show.
Jim Kaufman, owner of Oregon Super Valu, wasn’t sure how the dinner was going to fit into his hectic schedule.
His wife, Kim, however, had other ideas.
“When we got the invitation he mentioned he didn’t know if we could go because of our schedule being busy,” she said. “I told him I had everything arranged and we were going.”
Jim said the honor was unexpected.
“I was quite surprised. It was a great honor. I was thrilled with it,” he said.
Kim agreed. “It was humbling. I’m very grateful to the community and the chamber,” she said. “I’m very proud of everybody at the store and how hard they work every day.”
Dickson described the Kaufmans’ low key but generous approach to doing business.
“For more than 40 years this family owned business has been an anchor in our midst, demonstrating a ‘quiet’ commitment to meeting the needs of our community,” she said. “Never seeking acknowledgment, thanks or recognition, this business has generously donated to more fundraisers, organizations, events, dinners, sports teams, and youth programs than any of us could ever fathom.”
Jim thanked the community when he accepted the award.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for this community. I’m very proud to be part of this community,” he said. “I started out as a little kid in my father’s business.”
Dickson described Volunteer of the Year Steve Rypkema as “a quiet, kind, and unassuming-individual [who] gives generously of both time and talent.”
She gave a long list of the organizations Rypkema, who is also the director of the Ogle County Solid Waster Management Department, has volunteered to help.
“Working tirelessly, without thought to personal needs, schedule, or inconvenience this proactive spirit among us has a passion for helping people, our community, and particularly the environment,” she said. “Known as the ‘neighborhood go to’ this person can be found mowing someone’s lawn or sharpening a dull blade, or perhaps baking bread for someone in need of comfort.”
Rypkema gave credit back to the community.
“All the things I’ve been involved in also involved members of the community. It takes a village,” he said.
The Civic Leadership Award went to local First Responders and honored the Oregon Police Department, Oregon Fire Department, and Ogle County Sheriff’s Department.
Hazel’s Cafe and owner Candace Rivera was recognized with the Welcome to Oregon Award for a business less than two years old.