GALVA, ILLINOIS -
Downtown Galva is calling on history and new ideas to guide its future.
"This is our town," said Judy Hartman. "We have got to take it back."
With a fresh paint job on vintage buildings and hands-on work in community gardens, Galva is impressing developers to bring new business to the Henry County town of nearly 2,600 residents.
"Because of the revitalization that was happening downtown, they chose to invest in Galva," said Hartman.
That enthusiasm and energy comes from the longtime florist. She could be Galva's biggest cheerleader.
"If you don't care about your city, no one else is going to care to come here," she said.
Working with beautiful plants and flowers each day, she wants to plant that same philosophy into her city.
"Everybody wants Galva to be a better place," said Stephanie Cokel. "They just don't know how to make it a better place."
Reasons why Cokel entered the flower shop recently with a big surprise.
"On behalf of WQAD News Eight and Ascentra Credit Union, here's $300 to Pay It Forward," she said.
Cokel, who admires the way Hartman works with people of all ages, draws inspiration from her positive attitude.
"She just has a heart of gold," Cokel continued. "Everything she does, she puts her heart into it."
That also impresses Megan Guldenpfennig, who made the presentation for Ascentra Credit Union.
"Judy has truly gone above and beyond to make this beautiful town of Galva a brighter place to live," she said. "Judy embodies everything that we believe in, which is listening, caring and doing what's right."
Hartman's daughter, Melissa Kelly, should know. They work together in the flower shop.
"She's there for everyone," Kelly said. "It makes me proud of her, being my mother, for making the town nice."
Whether solving problems for a client or volunteering with a group like Galva Ready Set Grow, she is making her town a better place.
"I just hope she realizes how much I truly love this woman to death," Cokel said.
And just like a generous spirit, she plans to seed those Galva groups with the Pay It Forward money.
"It's a great feeling to know that you're doing something for your community," she concluded.
A community that's also glad that she cares to make Galva a better place.