When Candice Grace left her seat on the village’s board of trustees in May, she was given a framed copy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s 1869 plan for Riverside. Just a month later, the Riverside Township Lions Club and Chamber of Commerce gave Grace something to hang next to it.
On June 19, the organizations named Grace the Riverside Township Person of the Year. She’ll officially be honored at the annual Riverside Day dinner, which will be held on Aug. 26 at Crystal Sky Banquets, 7941 47th St. in McCook.
Grace was notified of her award by fellow former village trustee Bill Scanlon, who is a family friend.
“Bill came over and said, ‘Are you going to be around in August, because we’re planning a party,” said Grace, who admitted she at first was puzzled by Scanlon’s question. Until the kicker came: “And you’re the guest of honor.”
For two decades Grace has been involved as a volunteer in a variety of capacities, from being a member of the Riverside Garden Club to being a village trustee.
She served four years on the village board from 2005-09, as the board’s liaison for planning, zoning and preservation commissions.
For eight years prior to that, she was a member of the Riverside District 96 school board, serving as president of that board for two years. She also spent two years as a member of District 96’s long-range planning committee and served as co-chairwoman of the district’s referendum committee in 2004. In addition, Grace was an active member of the Central School PTA.
Beyond her years serving as an elected official, Grace has been an active member of the Riverside Junior Woman’s Club, an organization of which she is a past president. She has also been involved as an officer for the Riverside Swim Club, the Riverside-Brookfield High School Patrons Council and the American Association of University Women.
As a member of the AAUW she helped organize the village’s first garden walk with the Riverside Garden Club. At this year’s event last weekend, Grace’s garden was one of eight featured.
“When I look at that list, I think, ‘You did do a lot,” Grace said. “But when you’re doing it, it doesn’t seem like much.”
Of all her roles as a volunteer, Grace said the most rewarding was her time as a District 96 school board member. She singled out her involvement in creating new computer policies for the district as a member of the long-range planning committee as her proudest accomplishment.
“Computers are not a subject, they’re a tool,” said Grace, who is a software architect when she’s not volunteering her time locally. Instead of isolating computers into labs, Grace advocated bringing them into classrooms and integrating computers into the everyday curriculum.
“Now they’re just part of how they do things,” Grace said. “In the mid-90s this was a big deal, and some people thought this was a bad idea.”
Grace was school board president when the district adopted its class-size policy, which set targets for the district and evened out class sizes across the district. While it also ended up displacing some students from their home schools, it got rid of instances where there were up to 30 students in a classroom.
In her first official duty as Riverside’s Person of the Year, Grace will be in the village’s July 4 parade on Saturday morning.