Etta LaFlora has been named the 2020 Outstanding Citizen, the Kewanee Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Club announced Thursday.


"Etta has certainly met all the criteria that is required of the award,” said Mark Mikenas, Ambassador Club president and the chamber’s executive director. “Her service to the community and the children of Kewanee, and surrounding area has been exemplary."


LaFlora was born in Memphis, Tenn., and her family moved to Kewanee in the late 1960s. She is a graduate of Kewanee High School and attended Black Hawk College, majoring in child development and business management.


In 2008, she founded the nonprofit group Sunshine Community Services Center. An offshoot of this center, the Step Ladder Tutoring program was later developed.


In 2017 the Governor’s Hometown Award was presented to the City of Kewanee and the Sunshine Community Center for the Step Ladder Tutoring Program, which provides tutoring services to middle school-age students in the Kewanee and Wethersfield School Districts. The program utilizes a large group of local volunteers as well as those through AmeriCorps.


In order to reach their mission of “helping one child at a time,” LaFlora has been involved in spearheading many different fundraising efforts to keep the program operational


She has had previous volunteer experience tutoring juvenile offenders at the Illinois Youth Center when it was in Kewanee, helping students get their GEDs and improve basic math and reading skills.


LaFlora also currently oversees the AmeriCorps program, which places AmeriCorps volunteers at several local social service agencies. She has also been the event organizer and co-moderator for the local Black History Extravaganzas.


In previous presentations, LaFlora has shared impressive statistics on the positive difference they are making with a large number of our area youth. This difference in turn makes the future much brighter for local children, and the impact they will have on the community as a whole.


Due to the Covid-19 virus a community open house will be held when restrictions are lifted. Information will be announced regarding dates and location.