Rotary Club of Fort Wayne honors four local residents for their dedicated community service

Rotary Club of Fort Wayne was scheduled at its noon meeting today to honor four local residents as recipients of Paul Harris Community Service Awards.

The award recognizes people who have made “significant contributions of their time, talents and resources to our community,” a Rotary Club news release said.

Rotary Club members nominate award recipients, who can’t be current members of Rotary and must have given their community service over an extended time period, the news release said. They also must represent one of five categories — professional, nonprofit or social service, business and industry, education, and public service and government.

The four award recipients being honored at Rotary Club of Fort Wayne’s lunch meeting today at Parkview Field are:

Madelane Elston:Madelane Elston: Elston “has devoted her life to the arts and historic preservation. The Fort Wayne native has relocated historic homes; led capital campaigns for the arts; established funds for parks, preservation and fine arts programs; developed a new ice arena; served as a US figure skating judge; repurposed one of Indiana’s most endangered buildings into a working office building; and led the restoration of a national historic landmark – the Allen County Courthouse,” the news release said. Elston currently serves as Courthouse Preservation Trust president and a member of the master planning committee for the new Arts United Center and has served on and chaired numerous other boards.

David Van Gilder: From serving with the Peace Corps in Africa to a leadership role in many nonprofit organizations, Van Gilder has demonstrated a lifelong passion for public service, the news release said. As an attorney, Van Gilder “has served as a pro bono lawyer and promoted pro bono representation of persons of who would otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer,” including serving as founder and current director of Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana, a past member of Maumee Valley League Services Corp., and service with Allen County Bar Association Pro Bono Committee.

Van Gilder also has served as a judge for more than a decade with the “We the People” program, which “promotes civic education and respect for the rule of law and legal profession to students in elementary, middle and high school competitions,” the news release said. He also has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including those of ACRES Land Trust, Hoosier Environmental Council, Friends of Cedar Creek and Huntertown United Methodist Church.

Kathryn Felts: A strong supporter of the A Baby’s Closet program of Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Felts developed a successful fundraiser that involves area business and individuals in providing items for the program. A Baby’s Closet “helps low-income families and those experiencing hardships by providing essential baby items and teaching parents how to care for their children safely,” it said on the Associated Churches website.

Felts, who began her nursing career in an infant care unit, currently works part time as a nurse practitioner for Parkview Health’s Home Health and Hospice program. She also serves on the board of the Bill Lewis Center, which provides “child-friendly forensic interviews and interagency, comprehensive assessments of alleged child sexual abuse victims,” it said on the nonprofit’s website.

Dr. Robert Wilkins: As associate dean of the Fort Wayne Medical Education Program (Family Practice Residency) for the past 20 years, Wilkins has “designed and redesigned weekly and monthly medical curriculum (material) to meet medicine’s ever-changing best practices and credentialing requirements,” the Rotary news release said. He also has been involved in supervising the program’s Family Practice Center, which treats a large number of patients who are covered by Medicaid or Medicare insurance, and in Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health initiatives, including involving the hazards of lead poisoning, the news release said. As a member of the Indiana State Medical Association, Wilkins also has worked to develop and implement a sports concussion program.

He also is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served for more than 30 years with the Michigan Army National Guard, including two tours of duty in Iraq.

As part of their award, Rotary Club of Fort Wayne will donate $1,000 for each recipient to the Rotary International Foundation, which helps fund projects involving health, education, peace initiatives and community development in the more than 200 countries and territories where Rotary has members, the news release said.


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