ROCK ISLAND - Every February, the "Heroes Among Us" event includes dancing, singing, and honoring heroes in the Quad Cities. However, it's more than just a talent show and a ceremony.
It's put on every year by Q-C Women In Action, a group formed when Tammy Vesey organized the event five years ago.
"Some ladies wanted to be in a talent show, so I was like - well, I can put a program together and you guys can do that performance at the event," she explained.
Tammy was born and raised in Rock Island. After graduating from Rock Island High School, she went to Lewis University and Augustana College, then joined the Air Force. After 9 1/2 years, it was time to come home.
"I wanted to get involved with something and it was kind of hard," she said. "Some people already had things going on, so I just thought - hey, I'll start my own."
She found her inspiration of what to start through the young ladies at Rock Island High School, where she's the head coach of the girls' track & field team.
"As a coach, you become more than just a coach," said Tammy. "You become a mentor, a friend, a shoulder to cry on and with track - you don`t have a lot of time to do that."
So that's how Q-C Women In Action was born... going from a handful of high school girls in 2012 to more than two dozen today.
During their monthly meetings, Tammy and the other mentors in the group talk to the girls about how to "be comfortable with being uncomfortable." Outside of meetings, the group participates in service projects throughout the community and takes trips together to listen to different speakers and authors.
"We try to build the young ladies up so that by the time they graduate high school, they know that they can do whatever they set their mind to and they set themselves up for success," she said.
"That's the big thing that I've learned and I've also learned how to be a role model and how to present myself in a way where I can show people that - yes, I matter and I can just go out there and be who I want to be," said Camryn Comodore, a Member of Q-C Women In Action and Senior at Rock Island High School.
"I've learned to encourage other girls," added Jasmine Thomas, another Member and Senior. "I know with today`s society we often beat each other down, but with this group we know how others feel and we try to take that into consideration when talking to others or just when we're living our every day life."
It's because of the impact Tammy makes on these young lives that she's a Nominee for the Jefferson Award.
"I just love what I do," she said. "My reward is when one of my girls came to me and said I never thought about college until I joined this group."
For Tammy, that's everything.
"By the time my groups of friends growing up got to sophomore year, they had dropped out of school - pregnant - and I remember graduating... me and only one of my close friends from elementary to high school graduated together," explained Tammy. "It was a lack of guidance, in my opinion, so if I can help other girls avoid being like that then I`ll do whatever it takes."
That's why she says she's not done:
"I`m always thinking about ideas... what can I do next or how can I make the last event better?"
Not done dancing, singing, growing, or inspiring our youth and the youth to come.
To learn more about Q-C Women In Action, click here.
The Jefferson Awards
It's all about the people who are changing our community. For the third season, WQAD News 8 and Genesis Health System are bringing you eight local nominees of the Jefferson Award. The Jefferson Awards Foundation is a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public volunteerism in America, or as well call them, "unsung heroes." On the last Tuesday of every month, WQAD News 8 will announce one nominee. Then, in June 2017, one of the eight will represent the Quad Cities in Washington, D.C. at the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony.