John Gille selected for Jefferson Award

John Gille selected for Jefferson Award KELOland Television, in cooperation with Rotary West of Sioux Falls, has awarded three individuals with the Tradition of Caring Jefferson Award in South Dakota for 2005.

The awards were presented by the staff of KELOland Television and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth at Westward Ho Country Club in Sioux Falls on April 1.0

John Gille, who founded the Big Friends Little Friends program in Clay and Union counties in 1997, was one of the recipients.

Big Friends Little Friends matches youth 5 to 17 with qualified and screened adult mentors. Gille has served as its volunteer director since the program started, and donates hundreds of dollars, resources, and manhours to the program each year.

In accepting his Jefferson Award, Gille thanked all the individuals who serve on the board, as well as parents, businesses and individuals who support the program. Gille noted that three male volunteers and one female have applied as mentors in the last week, and the program is seeking more youth age 5 to 17.

"The BF-LF program continues to grow, thanks to other individuals who give of themselves to serve our youth," Gille said.

The Jefferson Award was created by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sen. Robert Taft, Jr., and Sam Beard when they founded the American Institute for Public Service in 1972. Individuals selected are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of any reward. They see a need and strive to make their community better.

Initally there were 33 people considered for the awards, then it was narrowed to only three, with one to go on for national consideration.

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