Kreeb, Strassheim, Crede honored
By Paul Black
PEORIA – Former Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House CEO Bill Kreeb was honored for his 35 years of service as he and Cunningham Home Chaplain Gay Crede were named the winners of the Social Justice Awards at Friday’s social justice dinner during Annual Conference.
Kreeb was named this year’s Cramer-Tolly Award, while Crede, as clergy, was honored as Cramer-Heuerman Award recipient by the IGRC Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. And Kreeb and former Baby Fold CEO Dale Strassheim were honored during the Golden Cross Ministries segment of the conference agenda.
For Bill Kreeb, his 35 years at the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House has been a labor of love.
“I feel like it has been a blessing for me to be able to be in mission at the Neighborhood House for more than 35 years,” he said. “I tell folks when I go out to speak that when they think of the mission trips they have been on, I feel like I have been on a mission trip for 35 years.”
As CEO, Kreeb has seen the agency grow from a community center serving several hundred residents to serving more than 18,000 in 2014. Looking at the needs of the community, Kreeb has expanded, changed and grown the programs and services provided to assist clients in meeting their full potential. He works closely with the agency’s board and community leaders to provide quality programs and services.
The state’s budget stalemate has crippled the agency who laid off 117 employees April 30. The agency borrowed $500,000 to bridge the gap for as long as they could and layoffs were seen as a last resort.
“It is a difficult time with the budget stalemate, but I believe that ministry will continue with the help of our partners in ministry to make that happen,” Kreeb said.
Former Baby Fold CEO Dale Strassheim pulled double duty upon his retirement in July 2015.
“As I said at the time, I wasn’t retiring, I was re-allocating,” Strassheim said. “I feel I needed to stay involved because life is an ongoing ministry.”
Strassheim was contacted by the board of the United Methodist Children’s Home in Mt. Vernon and asked to serve as an interim executive director of the facility.
“I found the people in Mt. Vernon were exceptionally good people and I felt I could give them what they needed at that time,” he said. “Looking back, it was one of the most memorable things I have done in my entire career.”
Coming to the Baby Fold in 2002, Strassheim was able to expand adoption preservation services through the Keeping the Promise program; open and expand Hammitt High School; and expand prevention and early intervention programs through Healthy Start
He was also honored by the United Methodist Association as Child, Youth and Family Services Administrator of the Year was The Baby Fold was recognized by EAGLE Accreditation Commission with the Best Practice Award for its Quality Initiative program.
Both Kreeb and Strassheim were part of the formation of the Illinois Great Rivers Alliance, a cooperative effort of the four social service agencies for children in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
Gay Crede provides support to Cunningham Home’s children, youth and familes during times of crisis as well as leadership during times of community celebration.
Participation in the spiritual services is optional and services are tailored to the unique needs of individual clients. Spiritual services can include pastoral counseling, group story time, Bible study, staff devotions, memorials and community celebrations.
Crede also assists young people in accessing religious communities and support networks in the local community.