The 54-year-old O'Neill
doesn't plan to retire from community service, though. Rather, his
primary reason for not running again is that he would now like to
pour more of his energies into continuing to help build up our young
people. He said that when he was considering his future, he decided,
"I feel I had better do what is most important to me -- help young
people feel better about themselves."
Pat had a track record of
being involved in the community before joining the Logan County
Board. He also has a reputation for working hard at something once
he has decided to become involved.
O'Neill was appointed to the county's animal control committee,
and like everything else went at it with the tenaciousness of a
bulldog (pun intended). While on the county's animal control
committee, O'Neill worked very hard for improvements to the animal
control facility in an effort to bring down the high rate of
euthanasia at the pound.
Later, he became an original member of the startup Humane
Society, forcing his withdrawal from the animal control committee
due to conflict of interest.
O'Neill was named to Lincoln Mayor Beth Davis-Kavelman's youth
and disabilities committees when she took office in 2001. He began
having youth-oriented events in order to find out what the
youngsters were thinking. He took the opportunity to talk to area
youth and coupled it with a fun event.
In one case he held a dance at the Lincoln Park District Rec
Center. On several other occasions he had a combination youth forum,
bowling donated by Logan Lanes and pizza parties, pairing youth with
state legislators who also came to hear what was on the minds of our
youth. These events gave O'Neill and our leaders the chance to find
out firsthand what our youngsters were thinking and what their
issues within the community were.
He will do almost anything if he thinks it will help a youngster.
Pat admits he looked like a "hippie" for 18 months in 2006-2007. A
young girl from Peoria had come to one of his youth forums and
explained she was battling cancer. When Pat asked if there was
anything he could do, she showed him she was wearing a wig.
The young lady told Pat about the Locks for Love program, where
people donate their hair to make wigs for people battling the
dreaded disease. Like everything O'Neill gets involved with, he
decided to get involved totally in supporting the program. Pat went
18 months without a haircut before getting his hair clipped.
Pat has continued to be involved with local youth as a board
member and has used his office to help local youngsters receive the
recognition they deserve for scholastic and community efforts.
In October 2007 O'Neill formally began recognizing Logan County
high school students who demonstrate overall good character and
achievements. The students chosen possess a variety of gifts and are
respected by peers in sports, academics, school-sponsored
activities, public service and spiritual life. The honorees brought
before the Logan County Board have been presented certificates of
O'Neill began working on his next turn in life a few months ago.
It will involve a number of steps.
First, he plans to continue the student presentations, but they
will be moved to the local high schools of the recipients and be
done during assembly times when the students' friends and peers, as
well as teachers and family, can be present.
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At the core of O'Neill's present and future purpose and plan, he
says that young people in our community need to feel better about
themselves. He wants to help students turn away from negative
thinking to positive attitudes that leave them feeling good about
To move toward and build that positive environment, he plans to:
Support students to do things for themselves and their community,
encouraging them through recognition incentives.
Show students people who have graduated here and then gone on
to help others in the community, or who have gone to other
communities and made a significant impact.
He would like the movement of creating a positive environment to
spread throughout the community. To further this effort, he would
like to have local TV time to introduce special people who make a
difference. In that spot he would recognize Students of the Month,
Teachers of the Month and Citizens of the Month.
Additionally, he currently has a Web site under construction, and
all of the recognitions and awards would be posted there.
To accomplish all this, he has made application for a
not-for-profit foundation status and is seeking grants.
Grant funding would also be used to establish a scholarship for a
graduating senior in need who may not qualify for other funds.
O'Neill summed up his beliefs and motivation by recognizing that
one of the measures of a community is the quality of life. He said
that the quality of life is about the people in our community. He
thinks the place to start is with our young people. He wants to see
them feel good about self and community, and let it spread.
Like everything O'Neill has become involved with, we imagine he
will give it his full measure. And that is why we have named Pat O'Neill our Personality of the