Bringing Leaders Together

Roxana Church of the Nazarene

The Roxana Church of The Nazarene is hosting, The Global Leadership Summit 2017 at their church for the first time. This summit is being broadcasted live from Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago onto a big screen inside the Roxana host site. The theme is, “Everyone has Influence,” and it’ll talk about how improving your leadership skills can impact lives, churches, businesses, governments, schools and families.

“I’ve attended this summit in the past and am so excited to broadcast it live at our church so that everyone in the community can enjoy the benefits without needing to travel to Chicago,” said Rev. Dr. Earl Gillett. “We understand that this may be a new concept to some, but it’s a new approach that we’re happy to share with our community leaders.”

There will be 12 well-known authors, advocates, CEOs and TV personalities that’ll have their own breakout sessions. Bill Hybels is Founder & Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and will be hosting the event. Gillett also said that it’s important to note, leaders in the community don’t necessarily need to be a business owner or corporate executive.

“You are a leader if you can look at the person on your left and the person on your right and become an encouragement to them, that’s a leader,” said Gillett. “They’re people who are willing to look forward and use their influence for the good of the community.”

Summit topics include: Assessing an organization’s growth potential, Creating an innovative culture, Streamlining process to boost execution, Reimagining performance management, Identifying personal attributes critical for success and Thriving in the face of adversity. The schedule for the summit is as follows: Thursday, August 10th 8:30am-4:30pm, and Friday, August 11th 8:30am-3:30pm.

Riverbend Family Ministries Executive Director, Tammy Iskarous says they plan on attending the summit and hope to encourage others in the community to attend as well.

“What an innovative way to bring this event to our backyard,” said Iskarous. “This is just the beginning at thinking outside the box on how we can benefit from broadcasting national summits from around world so that people don’t feel like they have to spend a fortune – this way accommodates everyone.”

Registration is still open for anyone who wants to attend. You can simply register online at The Global Leadership Summit website: or call The Roxana Church of Nazarene at 618-254-4026.

Gillett said their goal is to get at least one-hundred people registered.

“It can be difficult in this day in age to all get together in one location to unite as one community and bounce ideas off each other, but I’m hopeful this summit will spark conversations among our leaders in this community,” said Gillett.

Scholarship Honors Grace Skief

(Kim Skief, right, and Elizabeth Hanke, Brett Skief, Lauren Robinson and RFM Board President, Wiley Davis)

Riverbend Family Ministries grants the Grace Skief Memorial Volunteer Scholarship

Riverbend Family Ministries (RFM) board members presented this year’s winners for the Grace Skief Memorial Volunteer Scholarship. Both recipients graduated on the National Honor Society list, Lauren Robinson graduated from East Alton-Wood River High School and Elizabeth Hanke graduated from Alton High School.

The scholarship is named after 11 year-old, Grace Skief, who was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (D.I.P.G.), a type of cancer that attacks the brain stem. She was diagnosed in April 2015 and lost her battle just a few months later in July. Skief and her family attended RFM’s Annual Trivia Fundraiser and she would volunteer as a “runner,” collecting everyone’s answer sheets.

“Her smile could light up an entire room,” said RFM Executive Director, Tammy Iskarous. “Gracie’s time on earth was precious, she touched many lives and knew the importance of volunteering and giving back in the community and that’s what made me realize we had to do something in her honor.”

Iskarous says that’s what makes this scholarship unique, it targets students who exemplify the importance of community service and helps Grace’s story live on.

The scholarship recipients both plan on attending Lewis & Clark Community College in the fall and will be able to put the $500 Grace Skief Memorial Volunteer Scholarship money towards their college tuition. Robinson’s passion is with little children and plans on studying Early Childhood Education and wants to become a kindergarten teacher.  Hanke plans on becoming a nurse practitioner and is enrolling in the nursing program.

The recipients were selected by Grace’s parents, Kim and Brett Skief, former RFM board president and Grace’s uncle, Jim Folsom and RFM Executive Director, Iskarous.

“We looked for applicants who believed in the volunteer spirit and who did more in the community than just fulfill school requirements,” said Iskarous. “Her spirit of loving people and life continues through the recipients.”

Her family continues to raise awareness for D.I.P.G. and started, Grace’s Gift. They raise money to offer financial assistance to families with children with pediatric brain cancer and D.I.P.G. that seek uncovered or alternative treatment options in the form of non-income based grants.

“In the words of our Grace, while fighting D.I.P.G. at the age of eleven and already understanding the value of life; she would always say, ‘life is too short, you gotta get to the point,’” said Grace’s mom, Kim Skief.  “We at Grace’s Gift strive to do just that, by loving others the way that she would have with her actions of creativity, passion and generosity to beat brain cancer in kids, especially D.I.P.G.”

The family encourages anyone who’s interested in learning more, or to become more inspired by Grace’s story, visit  For more information on D.I.P.G. you can go to

Wood River Police Association Donates to RFM

The Wood River Police Association hosted their 11th annual trivia fundraiser event which benefits many organizations, schools, community events and families.  This year’s event, they played a 50/50 type game to raise money for Officer Blake Snyder.

Wood River Dispatcher and Police Association President, Rick Militello said that the Snyder family asked them to donate the money to a charity of their choice.  Militello and the other officers knew that Riverbend Family Ministries would be the perfect fit because it meant so much to Snyder.

“We knew donating the money to Riverbend Family Ministries was the perfect fit because he served on the board and felt very passionate about the work they do for the community,” Militello said.  “Since they also help protect the same community we protect, we’re confident that the money will go towards a good cause.”

The Wood River Police Association is an organization of active and retired employees of the Wood River, Illinois Police Department, founded in 2002.  Our Association is comprised of regular members who are employed by the City of Wood River Police Department in the positions of sworn police officer, police (911) telecommunicator, police records clerk, police cadet, secretary or any other position which falls under the chain of command of the Police Chief, and such persons who have duly retired or pensioned from such employment and have a membership in good standing at the time of their retirement.

Please Excuse the Mess!

We’re doing more than spring cleaning this week at our Wood River location.  For the first time since opening our doors in 2007, we are knocking down walls, making room for our ever-growing services.

“When we first found this building ten ye
ars ago, it used to be the Wood River firehouse and we just knew it was the space for us to turn our vision into a reality,” said Executive Director, Tammy Iskarous.  “Our goal was to always grow the services in this community, and with that, comes growing our space.”

Iskarous says a big reason why they need to expand their space is because Refuge just hired another therapist to and need to make more room for their therapy needs.

The new space will feature an updated data entry room for their volunteers and case managers, expanding client service space, new therapy room for Refuge and a new office space for a new Refuge therapist.

The building already has space for their Refuge… CASA partners, the Youth Violence Prevention Program, Client Service Department and a training room for all the parenting classes – which is also occasionally used for other training classes.

The construction starts this Spring and is projected to be completed by this summer.


Volunteers Keep the Wheels Turning at Riverbend Family Ministries

When you walk into the doors at Riverbend Family Ministries, you’ll most likely be welcomed by a volunteer.  During their regular office hours, Monday through Thursday 9am-1 pm, there’s always a volunteer either answering the phone, or greeting our clients and walk-ins for the day.

“We feel so blessed to have so many volunteers working here, honestly, they keep the wheels turning in our day to day operation,” said Riverbend Family Ministries Executive Director, Tammy Iskarous.  “I stop and think, they’re all doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts – we’re so fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers.”

Iskarous says each volunteer is also super encouraging and are here to listen to our clients, even if they just want to come in, have a cup of coffee and chat.

There are 23 volunteers throughout the week that work at RFM, most of them work in the Client Service Department or the Data Entry department.  Throughout the year, there are almost 150 volunteers that help out when there are special events.

The Client Service Department works one on one with our clients and their families needing aid with rental and utility assistance, job coaching, interview skills, resume writing and rehabilitation connections. Their goal is to provide training in basic life skills and tools to better their futures.

One of their Client Service volunteers, Mary Fisher decided to volunteer at RFM after retiring from a local school district.  “When I retired, I was looking for a way to volunteer in our community and to give back, I already knew Tammy through my job at the school and have worked with children and families and thought it would be a good fit.”

Like many of the volunteers here, Fisher sees clients that are seeking assistance in some way, whether it be help with utility bills or rent.  She says often times people just like to come in and talk about the current situation going on in their life.

“Our director is always looking for new ways to help families in this community, and I feel like that’s what makes this a place great,” said Fisher.

Another volunteer, Pam Coleson, who’s very passionate about the services RFM provides has been with them for more than five years.

“Every time I’m down here, I’m fulfilled and know that we’re making a difference, whether if we’re able to help or not, we help plant the seed and somebody else may come along and water that seed,” Coleson said.  “We’re here to help break cycles and let them know there is a different way to do things and they’re not alone.”

Riverbend Family Ministries provides resources and training for smaller non-profit organizations in the Madison County area.   They work together under one roof, providing families and individuals the tools they need to be self-sufficient.  Their collaborative method focuses on holistic efforts for children, youth and families who’ve experienced trauma, most often due to violence, addiction, poverty and homelessness.

Riverbend Family Ministries Receives Madison County’s Model Leadership Through Service Award

Executive Director, Tammy Iskarous receives award from Madison County Treasurer, Chris Slusser.

Madison County officials honored Riverbend Family Ministries (RFM) with the Model Leadership Through Service Award in the Organization category.  The award was received during the M.I.C. (Model Innovative County) Summit hosted by Madison County Community Development at the Lewis and Clark Nelson Campus in Edwardsville.  Madison County Treasurer, Chris Slusser introduced Executive Director of RFM, Tammy Iskarous and honored her with the award.

“I’m honored to introduce Tammy and honor her with this award because they’ve been serving the Madison County area for ten years now and have become a wonderful resource to this community,” said Slusser.  “I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to see them open their doors for the first time and serve on the board as their chairman in their beginning stages – and now, it has come full circle for me to honor them today.”

Riverbend Family Ministries provides resources and training for smaller non-profit organizations in the Madison County area.   They work together under one roof, providing families and individuals the tools they need to be self-sufficient.  Their collaborative method focuses on holistic efforts for children, youth and families who’ve experienced trauma, most often due to violence, addiction, poverty and homelessness.

“Before we opened our doors in downtown Wood River, I had a vision to house small non-profits under one roof so we could collectively serve the needs of our families in crisis,” said Iskarous.  “We call everyone that walks into our doors family.  We do that because a family is always there for you, in good times, and bad without judgement.  We are more than honored to accept this award and feel very blessed to serve the people of Madison County.”

Madison County Chairman, Kurt Prenzler and his team decided to nominate Riverbend Family Ministries for the Model Leadership Through Service Award this year because of their innovative ways of thinking.

“We chose Riverbend Family Ministries because they put action behind what they do,” said Prenzler.  “Even though they know they cannot depend on the state for funding, it doesn’t stop their perseverance, in fact, it challenges them to do more and be more innovative. Madison County appreciates how giving they are and the example they’re setting for others.’

Riverbend Family Ministries has 15 board members on their board of directors.  The current Board Chairman, Wiley Davis says the entire board is excited for this award and that it makes them even more motivated to look into the future of RFM.

“Riverbend Family Ministries exemplifies community leadership through service to children, youth and families in need,” said Davis.  “They take a holistic approach to mending broken lives. It is in close partnership with other agencies that specialize in training and counseling; providing necessary skills to get lives back on track. I am proud to be part of this organization and the work being done by Tammy, the board, the staff and the volunteers on behalf our community.”

Riverbend Family Ministries receives Leadership Through Service Award

Riverbend Family Ministries Hires New Community Content Director

We are so blessed to introduce our newest family member, Shannon Plummer.  She has joined our team as the Community Content Director. This is a brand new position that will focus on marketing, media relations, website content and brand awareness. “We are thrilled to have her join our team as we expand services and locations throughout this community,” said Riverbend Family Ministries Executive Director, Tammy Iskarous.

Shannon brings more than ten years of experience in Public Relations, Media, Corporate Communications and Marketing.  With a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked as a reporter and news producer in the beginning of her career for a local television station in the Chicago-suburbs.  Most recently, she’s been working independently with local businesses and PR agencies to produce marketing videos for their websites and social media.  Prior to that, she worked for McDonald’s Corporation in Oak Brook, IL where she did internal communications and video production work.

“We look forward to the skills she will bring to Riverbend Family Ministries,” said Iskarous.   “She has hit the ground running and is excited to tell the stories that make RFM such an amazing asset to the Madison County community.”

About Riverbend Family Ministries

Riverbend Family Ministries provides resources and training for smaller non-profit organizations in the Madison County area.   They work together under one roof, providing families and individuals the tools they need to be self-sufficient.  Their collaborative method focuses on holistic efforts for children, youth and families who’ve experienced trauma, most often due to violence, addiction, poverty and homelessness.

Open Hearts, Open Hands, Open Doors

For the past 9 years you have helped provide services for over 5,000 families through services offered at RFM. Because of you, we have been able to have Open Hearts, Open Hands, and Open Doors for a community in need. This year we are running a campaign to help provide more resources for our families that find themselves in crisis.  Riverbend Family Ministries has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy, and celebrate generosity worldwide.  This year #GivingTuesday will be November 29th. Our goal for this campaign is to raise $130,000. Generations can be changed with your commitment to RFM. Do not forget to mark your calendars now for this incredible day of giving.

Because of your partnership, we were able to help more than 700 children live stronger, healthier and safer lives. Your financial commitment helped more than 600 families with sustainable housing, transportation, advocacy and therapeutic care. We also were able to contract a youth violence prevention specialist to facilitate our youth 12-17 that have used violence to resolve conflict or come from an environment where violence was prevalent. RFM was able to expand throughout Madison County and register more than 6,800 volunteer hours in order to better serve your community.  Due to our increasing client numbers and your faithful support we were able  to hire our first part time employee to oversee all clients that come into RFM for sustainability with excellence and timeliness.

Today, we ask you to open up your hearts to donate to help families that have been affected by violence, addiction, poverty and homelessness.  Open your hands to the people who do not have the resources needed to live safer and healthier lives, and to help us keep open doors to welcome any family in need of the services offered here at Riverbend Family Ministries.

Thank you Officer Blake Snyder for your service

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We at RFM are so heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend Officer Blake Snyder. Blake joined the board of Riverbend Family Ministries in 2008. When asked why he wanted to join our board his response was, “to help facilitate what God is doing within this community, especially the changing of the lives of young people.” Blake lived this model every day! He brought energy, talent, and a desire to serve in whatever capacity to make this community better. We were sad when he rotated off, however we knew that his acceptance to the academy was exactly where he was suppose to be. His love for his family and friends was contagious and his commitment to the community he served was inspirational. We as a board pray for his wife,son,family, and friends. His light will be missed. We pray that his desire for young people to learn a better way will be a torch picked up by those whose lives he has changed and left behind…

Tammy Iskarous
Exec. Director
Riverbend Family Ministries

Our First Grace Skief Memorial Volunteer Scholarship


Grace Skief was a vibrant and beautiful 11-year-old girl. This energetic young lady spent her time caring for children and animals, and cooking crazy creations. She loved to volunteer every chance she had. One of Gracie’s favorite events each year was the RFM Trivia Night. She was a runner for answer sheets, and she loved to goof off and interact with the players as she passed by each table. In April of 2015, Gracie was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma DIPG is a type of cancer that attacks the brain stem. There is no cure, and no useful treatment. In July of 2015, Gracie went home to be with Jesus.

As a way to raise awareness and promote community volunteerism,  RFM started a scholarship grant in her name.

Kim and Brett Skief-Gracie’s parents were here at RFM to hand Ariel Mundy her check and show her the plaque with her name on it as the first recipient.


Volunteer Coordinator Susan Broadway, Board Member Jim Folsom, Exec. Director Tammy Iskarous and Kim and Brett Skief had the privilege of reading through the stack of applications to choose our recipient Ariel Mundy of Alton High School. Ariel loves food like Grace and loved volunteering her time in her community.