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Blog: Meet our 2022 Difference Makers (7/23/22)

The band Just Enough perform at the 2021 Difference Makers Banquet at the Black River Coliseum.

Our communities are filled with more good people doing good works than we can ever imagine.

Most of these people don’t want to be recognized for their efforts. Their names are known only to those close enough to see the positive change they have created.

Difference Makers was created to shine a light on these people and the many necessary services they support.

The Daily American Republic is using the month of August to thank our region’s difference makers with special recognitions culminating this year with a banquet on August 18 at the Black River Coliseum.

Today we are announcing the 10 finalists for the 2022 Difference Maker of the Year.

These people come from all over our region and support programs that meet many needs, including supporting children in foster care, helping care for abandoned animals, and creating sports programs that help local children. to flourish.

We hope you’ll help us celebrate the difference makers who help build a better Southeast Missouri every day.

The finalists are, in alphabetical order: LuWanna Forister, volunteer at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center; Craig Meador, Butler County Emergency Response Team and Butler County Severe Weather Storm Watchers; Donna Gause, who provides emergency transportation for animals in need of new homes; Jessica Billings, manager of the Doniphan sheltered workshop; Judy Gregory, an active volunteer with Risen Church in Dexter; Stacey Ritter, who is involved in the Doniphan RI School District after-school program; Linda Martin, who serves the Naylor community in various ways through the school district and her church; Gary and Leisa Pennington, who help children in youth sports in Doniphan; Karen Vallow, a member of a volunteer quilting group that does many projects, including providing handmade quilts to people served by a local women’s shelter; and Amber Tyler of the Missouri Children’s Division, who goes above and beyond to help foster children.

We will tell you more about each of the finalists in a special magazine which will be released on August 13th.

We will then name the Difference Maker of the Year at the August 18 banquet.

The banquet is a free event and open to the public. Tickets are available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis by calling 573-785-1414 or through our office downtown. Tickets will be required to attend.

The banquet will also help raise funds this year for Haven House, a local shelter for women affected by domestic violence.

Doors will open at 5:50 p.m. and the event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Dinner will be served by the United Gospel Rescue Mission in Poplar Bluff, and the band Just Enough will play throughout the evening.

A silent auction, 50/50 table raffle and $500 gas raffle will also take place, with proceeds going to Haven House. Tickets for the gas raffle can also be purchased at the DAR.

We would also like to thank everyone who submitted nominations this year. This was our largest group today and selecting 10 finalists was a difficult task for our committee.

But we are extremely grateful to have so many people doing good work in our region, that it was difficult to select just 10!

Sponsors of this event include: Saint Francis Healthcare; Poplar Bluff School District; Kissinger & Kirkman Investment Center; Productive staffing; Ozark Federal Credit Union; First Bank of the Midwest; Three Rivers College; Lisa Reynolds Insurance Agency; The Bank of Missouri; The town of Poplar Bluff; and Pepsi Mid America.

Donna Farley is the editor of the Daily American Republic. She can be contacted at