No. 1117



If you have people in your life who truly inspire you, then you will appreciate the comments I am going to make about a man I have never met personally, but who is a wonderful example of what a public servant should be. His name is John Rey, and he is Mayor of DeKalb, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.
John and I became friends back in 2011, after a front page article ran in the American Profile magazine about our Conway Bookcase Project. This magazine was bought out by another company and is no longer published, but at the time had a circulation of more than 10 million readers.
One of these readers was John Rey, who was a member of the local Kiwanis Club. John was interested in starting a bookcase project there in his hometown, patterned after the one we started here in Conway back in 2005. Using the information in American Profile, he contacted me and we talked about how to organize the project and get it started. He was not mayor at the time (that will come later), but I soon discovered that he was a very unusual man. He began to contact other leaders in his community and soon had a great committee assembled that consisted of 16 members.
Following our Copyright to the letter, in 2012 they had their first Bookcase Banquet. Later that year they had the Awards Ceremony to present 50 bookcases, and a good number of books for each child. The banquet is a grand affair with a lot of people helping, including Tom Tsigalis of the Junction Eating Place, who prepares a menu of parmesan chicken with spaghetti, marinara sauce, veggies and garlic bread. As time passed, John would send me newspaper articles and photos, along with an update on their progress. The update always included the good things that were taking place, especially the partnership they developed with the neighboring community of Sycamore.
Then came word, about three years ago, that John was running for mayor of DeKalb. What impressed me even more was that there were four candidates in the race and he won without a runoff. Of course I was happy for him, because I knew he was a good man with excellent leadership skills and the ability to get things done. He also has a servant’s heart, which is very important to me. With my own passion for literacy, it was a great feeling to know that our DeKalb/Sycamore Bookcase Project chairman was also the mayor of his city, because I knew it was in good hands.
When I contacted him for permission to write this column, he gave me the following information, and also the comment, “Modestly, I am in this for the benefit to the children we reach.” He said, “We completed our sixth annual Literacy Banquet on Feb. 9. Good support still present in DeKalb/Sycamore for the cause of literacy. We have some turnover in the steering committee, which is helpful to gain fresh ideas and renewed energy. Our 16 members are committed and dedicated to the cause of promoting literacy throughout the area.
Two Rivers Head Start is glad to have us as a community partner! We engage Northern Illinois University (primarily education majors) in assistance with sorting books and reading to children at the Awards Ceremony – after presenting the bookcases. Our build progresses and we look forward to the Awards Ceremony on May 6. It is rewarding to see the bright faces on the children when they come forward to receive their very own bookcase.”
Thank you for all you do for the children -- Jim
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)