We were honored and a little embarrassed to have been recognized for our community involvement. It is though something we feel strongly about and encourage. We’ve found that the nicest people you’d ever want to meet are frequently those that are actively involved and participating in one way or another.
By Toni Rocha
Beloit Daily News correspondent
Published: Thursday, February 24, 2011 11:20 AM CST
Volunteering connects couple to the community No one would argue that volunteering is a great way to give as well as a way to feel more useful. But for Ana Kelly and Rick McGrath, volunteering in a multitude of organizations has provided the perfect entry into the greater Beloit community.
McGrath said his move to the Beloit area about five years ago was work-related. While he found a position in Roscoe, he added that he prefers to live in older neighborhoods.
“Planned development doesn’t work for me,” McGrath explained. “I was living in Beloit for three years before I found we had a neighborhood group. The Near East Side Neighborhood Association (NESNA) hadn’t been meeting much. Then we discovered the Landmarks Commission and became involved there, too.”
Kelly added, “We started a website for NESNA and tried to get its members together but everyone was so busy. Finally, we learned that the best way to attract them was to hold meetings in our home. We had good attendance at the first one.”
Just as one potato chip is never enough, Kelly and McGrath quickly became involved in one after another of Beloit’s vital organizations. Married with four children still living at home plus operating their own business, Resonate Web Marketing, the couple would seem to have more than enough on their plates. But within a few short years, through their professional expertise and desire to be assets to their community, Kelly and McGrath have helped what reads like a “what’s what” of Beloit nonprofits, schools and governing bodies.
Kelly serves on Beloit’s planning commission and both act as treasurer for the Aldridge Middle School band boosters, focusing on acquiring 100-plus uniforms for the students. More, they either serve on committees or provide Internet services for the Beloit Landmarks Commission, Beloit Neighborhood Preservation Association, Roy Chapman Andrews Society, Latino Services Coalition of Rock County, the Society for Learning Unlimited, the League of Women Voters, the Beloit School District, Hands of Faith, Meals on Wheels, the Chamber of Commerce, the Beloit International Film Festival, Beloit Economic Development Corporation, the Angel Museum and Beloit 2020’s Explore with Roy program.
“When we work with these organizations, the line quickly blurs between professional assistance and personal interaction,” McGrath said. “Friendships naturally develop, and of course, we see a lot of familiar faces.”
As one of several founders of NESNA, Tom Warren said he has been impressed by the dedication, time and results that Kelly and McGrath have achieved throughout the Beloit College district where they live.
“They not only like Beloit, but are willing to invest sweat equity to make it better,” Warren added. “My wife and I are members of the First Presbyterian Church where Ana and Rick sometimes attend. They are among the most active contributors to outreach efforts.”
Warren concluded that most of all, he has known McGrath and Kelly via their website construction and maintenance.
“They have helped me, and many other individuals and groups, develop websites at minimal or no pay,” Warren said. “Their expertise, patient teaching and willingness to stand behind their work have made them valuable partners and important community resources. I speak here significantly from my role within the Roy Chapman Andrews Society, but also know that they have volunteered their work to other associations.”
Another organization that has benefited greatly from Kelly’s and McGrath’s volunteer efforts is Beloit’s Angel Museum.
“I have been working with Rick and Ana for about two years now,” said Angel Museum Executive Director Ruth Carlson. “In that time, they have completely reorganized our website plus gone way above and beyond to help us keep it updated. They are also at a lot of our events and film them whenever we ask. They have also helped me learn social media and put the museum on Facebook,
Twitter and Youtube.”
Carlson added that she feels Kelly and McGrath are real assets to the community who are willing to share so much of their expertise to help organizations understand new technology to promote Beloit venues as well as the city itself.
“We are fortunate to have such dedicated people as Rick and Ana in our community who are willing to do so much,” Carlson said.
And among those familiar faces Kelly and McGrath find when they get involved is Dr. Robert Schwaegler.
“When I look into their faces, Beloit’s message of welcoming with a generous and gracious smile comes to mind,” Schwaegler said. “They are always ready to share their talents in the realm of social networking and web cyberspace development. The SLU web page was greatly enhanced technically. And they are inseparable. They love working as a team. And watching Rick and Ana on the dance floor shows how much they like being together.”
For their personal view, Kelly concludes, “If you don’t volunteer, you won’t become truly integrated into your community. You will always feel like outsiders. We no longer feel as if we just moved to Beloit a few years ago. We feel as if we have lived here forever.”