Difference Makers serve communities in important ways

Some might identify them as pillars of their communities -- building, improving, expanding.

Others might recognize them as behind-the-scenes organizers -- the folks who get things done without regard to who gets the credit.

We call them Difference Makers.

Each year, B Magazine, a rustmedia regional business publication, honors men and women across Southeast Missouri for their efforts in a host of endeavors, such as health care, not-for-profit organizations, business success and mentorship.

A Sept. 7 event on the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus highlighted this year's Difference Makers:

* Mark Anderson -- the Lynwood Baptist Church pastor has worked to grow the church and its associated private school while serving as chaplain for Cape Girardeau Police Department and Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Office.

* Uzma Aziz -- staff member of Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence dedicated to protecting women and children.

* Brady Barke -- Southeast Missouri State University vice president of Intercollegiate Athletics, he has guided the Redhawks' programs to championships, national tournament appearances and facility upgrades during a pandemic and stadium challenge.

* Avon Crocker -- board president of FISH food pantry whose service revolves around the simple, yet profound, idea of feeding the hungry.

* Cynthia Dean -- the director of Missouri Bootheel Regional Consortium, she focuses on underserved communities.

* Don Fulford -- president of not-for-profit Association of the Miraculous Medal at the National Shrine of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal uses his position to share knowledge and experience with the Perryville and Perry County communities.

* Vincenzo Galati -- the surgeon and general urologist raises awareness around testicular cancer.

* Lester Gillespie -- founder of Stella Consulting and Fresh Start Self Improvement Center in Charleston, he works to enhance quality of life for residents of Mississippi County.

* Marc Harris -- through Adult and Teen Challenge Mid-America, he works with men struggling with drug and/or alcohol addiction.

* Mia Pohlman -- writer and editor of special publications for rustmedia and founder of Here., a literary magazine for young people. She helped save Catholic parishes in Perry County that were under threat of closure.

* Lanae Romann -- director of nursing for maternal and child health care at Saint Francis Healthcare System in Cape Girardeau who advocates for patients who can't yet speak for themselves.

* Ashley Seiler -- her work with Big Brothers Big Sisters has innovated new programs for local youth.

* John Spear -- through his service on United Way of Southeast Missouri Board of Directors, SEMO Redhawks Club and rustmedia's NEXT Project, he mentors young people and serves the community whenever and wherever he can.

* Becky Wigginton -- president of Bollinger county Chamber of Commerce, working to grow the area while respecting its history.

* Scott Williams -- division manager for Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department, with a particular focus on recreation for people of all abilities.

* Terri Wunderlich -- direct services specialist for FosterAdopt Connect in Cape Girardeau lives her job by fostering children.


The service these people provide is a testament to their character. We are lucky they use their knowledge, experience and talents to benefit others. While some of them serve in high-profile positions, others go about their good works in virtual anonymity. Either way, our communities are better off because of them.

Congratulations to these 16 people for being named Difference Makers.

And on behalf of the thousands of our friends and neighbors who have benefited from their efforts, thank you for all you do.