2019 Difference Maker

DAR names Winters 2019 Difference Maker of the Year
Posted on 08/27/2019
Becky Winters and Chris Pruett

AmeriCorps Program Director Becky Winters was named the Daily American Republic’s inaugural Difference Maker of the Year during a banquet held Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Holiday Inn Ballroom with approximately 200 guests in attendance.

A total of 10 finalists were recognized, several of whom—like Winters—had strong ties to the Poplar Bluff School District, including: Christy Frazier-Moore for starting the Chi and Company club at Junior High; PBHS Spanish teacher Charley Harper for his involvement with the Poplar Bluff Regional Giving Circle; and Kathern Harris for her partnership through the Butler County Community Resource Council. 

Winters was awarded a prize bundle with a value in excess of $2,000 including a vacation package and a Briggs & Stratton pressure washer. The successful nomination submitted by R-I Communications Director Tim Krakowiak detailing Winters’ community service read as follows: 

‘As AmeriCorps program director in Poplar Bluff, Becky Winters helped provide a Christmas for nearly 1,200 Butler County children representing over 450 families in 2018. She founded Project Christmas Promise in 2008, serving 130 kids that initial year, and grew the operation to what it is today. She systematically identifies the children in need, coordinates donations from individuals and businesses that adopt angel trees, wraps the presents with her network of volunteers, and even makes deliveries to families who do not have transportation. She does not celebrate the holiday with her family until every child has an outfit plus two to three toys from off his/her wishlist. 

Mrs. Winters uses the extra toys and clothing, plus snacks and hygiene products purchased as inventory for the Rotary Good Habits Store, a partnership between the Rotary Club and Lake Road Elementary School to help boost student attendance. A longtime Rotarian, Mrs. Winters and other volunteers set up a makeshift shop in the gymnasium where students spend the points they accrued for maintaining perfect attendance. Since the incentive started in 2012, attendance has increased from about 80 percent to above 90 percent, among the highest in the district. 

In addition, Mrs. Winters has coordinated the month-long bell ringing efforts through the Salvation Army since 2004, raising upward of $40,000 annually for the organization, 85 percent of which is spent locally and the rest is placed into a disaster fund, which has also served to provide relief in Butler County on multiple occasions over the past decade. 

Mrs. Winters is known by her colleagues as a person who isn’t afraid to ask for favors. She has fostered many relationships over the years, coordinating efforts with nonprofits to ensure charitable services aren’t being duplicated, routinely making a difference in countless lives in her community.’ 


Cutline: DAR Publisher Chris Pruett presents Becky Winters with the 2019 Difference Maker of the Year award.

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