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Shawneetown duo earn ‘Good Neighbor’ award for support in restoring local history, culture

Posted by on Wednesday, September 11th, 2019 @ 12:42 pm.

SHAWNEETOWN, Ill. – Bringing back a slice of local history and culture to Old Shawneetown that was lost when St Mary’s Church in Old Shawneetown moved to New Shawneetown in 1962, volunteers Jane Harmon and Mary Jo Oldham Morgan spearheaded an effort to restore the shuttered church and welcome the community to St. Mary’s Church Museum. For their extensive efforts, the duo have been honored with a ‘Good Neighbor’ Award from WSIU’s One Region, All Neighbors initiative, a service of Southern Illinois University Carbondale that was created in honor of Fred Rogers and recognizes those who make a positive impact in the community. 

As the church was closing in early 1960s, the members of St. Mary’s Church were given the opportunity to select special keepsakes from the location. Then “we began to get our heads together” and decided to collect the keepsakes as a group, noted Harmon and Morgan. The keepsakes included statues, wood carvings from local artisans, furniture, candlesticks and much more. Nearly 60 years later, the items were returned to the original home with the Aug. 4 opening of the new museum.

The museum project, which resulted from several conversations last fall, was managed by Harmon and Morgan and dozens of local volunteers as well as the Gallatin County Historical Society. The St. Mary’s Church Museum opened to a standing room only crowd.

Next-door neighbors and friends for more than three decades, Harmon and Morgan believe the church and museum are a part of the fabric of the community. “We have had some very determined people help to make this happen,” Harmon said, with Morgan adding that “people just haven’t refused to help us.” In less than two months and without air conditioning or running water, they organized, toiled and created a museum out of blood, sweat and tears. “This is one of the hardest jobs each of us has ever had but also one of the most rewarding,” Morgan added.

Morgan had grown up in this church and had a wealth of memories of how it looked and operated. Harmon’s husband’s family also attended this church, and her husband, Tom, remembers serving at Mass numerous times. Morgan added that a “good neighbor to me is someone who is there for you in the good days and the bad days and they are there to pick up and support you or to celebrate with you. We have had a lot of good neighbors throughout this project!”

The duo were nominated for the ‘Good Neighbor’ Award by community member Nina Wargel who said, “I associate a good neighbor as an individual or group who offers their time and talents to help out an individual, community or cause in an effort to have a positive impact, no matter the size or scope. I also appreciate those who have the resources to provide financial and material support as good neighbors!”

The St. Mary’s Church Museum is located at 872 Market Street, Shawneetown, IL 62984. The last two open houses this year are Sunday, September 15th and Sunday, October 6th from 1pm to 4pm. Admission is free.

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 30 years, Rogers reached into homes and hearts with his children’s public television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, demonstrating the power of kindness and transforming our understanding of childhood. WSIU’s One Region, All Neighbors initiative encourages community members to nominate those 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. All awardees and nominators will be invited to attend a special ceremony where they will be recognized for outstanding contributions in their communities.

Nominate Your Neighbors
WSIU encourages the public to participate in the One Region, All Neighbors campaign by nominating neighbors 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.

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 at wsiu.org 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.


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Posted by on Sep 11 2019. Filed under Breaking, Gallatin. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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