Feature Photo Caption: Beloved Monee resident and volunteer extraordinaire Phyllis Nieland shared a laugh with friends after the ceremony renaming a segment of Wilson in her honor. —photo by Karen Haave
by Karen Haave
Once in a while, a community is blessed with a remarkable volunteer who makes such a difference that a truly special tribute is needed.
In Monee, that person would be Phyllis Nieland, and to honor her on Friday morning, the village re-named Wilson Street at Egyptian Trail.
It was the first time in the history of Monee that an Honorary Way was designated.
Her family and admirers came out to watch as Phyllis and her son, Carl, pulled the cover off the sign to reveal its new name.
Asked how it feels to have a street named for you, she quipped, “Ridiculous.”
Those who know her and have worked with her in the village where she has made her home for 70 years say she is absolutely deserving.
Planning & Zoning Commission Member Sheila Bartlett said, “There is no one better to receive this award. She has been a huge asset to this quaint town. Her knowledge has helped many, including myself. She is my mentor and friend. She knows everything about Monee. The Planning and Zoning Committee misses her dearly.”
Village Trustee Janet Blue, who attended the brief ceremony, agreed.
“Phyllis Nieland is an amazing woman,” she said. “ Naming a street in honor of her work for the village is a humble gesture in an attempt to reflect her decades of work and tireless efforts for our village and our residents. I haven’t had the honor to spend a lot of time with Phyllis, but her legacy is evident right before our eyes wherever we look in Monee. We still have a lot to learn from you Phyllis, thank you!”
Mrs. Nieland’s son, Monee Fire Chief Carl Nieland, said after the ceremony that he and the rest of his family are “very proud” of her contribution to the village and her legacy. He said that even from his earliest memories, his mother always was an active volunteer.
Mrs. Nieland retired from the Planning & Zoning Commission earlier this year, after serving 28 years.
She moved to Monee at the age of 19 with her husband, Orlando, who passed away in February 2011.
She is a past member of the Monee Township Board and continues to serve on the township’s Senior Committee, planning events and luncheons for senior citizens. Her volunteerism earned her the Monee Chamber of Commerce’s Ralph Fehland Award in 2015.
She worked for many years at the elementary school and is known to have been a devoted helper to the children. She also was an active volunteer for the Peotone Library and for Monee Fall Faire.
When she is not busy volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family: Monee Fire Chief Carl Nieland and his wife, Hollie, and her daughter and son-in-law, Althea and Brian Schoenrock of Monee. She is the grandmother of five: Philip and Carla Schoenrock, and Jenna, Kyle and Dan Nieland.