67th “Citizen of the Year” Winner is Kim Slonaker

The Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Committee is pleased to announce the 67th Boyertown Citizen of the Year, Kim Slonaker!

Kim Slonaker worked at the Boyertown YMCA for 32 years in a variety of positions, starting out as a part-time program coordinator and eventually working her way up to executive director for her last five years there. During her time as executive director, she coordinated collaboration with the United Way of the Boyertown Area, Boyertown Area Multi-Service, and the Borough of Boyertown securing grants for improvements of the Boyertown Community Pool. She also was the organizer for the Annual Dutch Auction for over 20 years.

Beyond her work, she has always been involved with many local organizations. She was on many committees and volunteered at Saint Columbkill Church. She is a member of the Human Concerns Ministry, an organization that collaborates with community partners (yearly projects include, but not limited to, a coat drive, the Warming Tree to collect warm items for Boyertown Area Multi-Service, The Spiritual Adoption of the Unborn Child program, Christmas in July and the Super Bowl project to collect needed items for Preston’s Pantry, Christmas card signing for residents at several senior care facilities, baby showers for Birthright, Bowling for Babies for Mary’s Shelter, the Love Light program which honors people who are living and deceased on a tree at Christmas, and the Special Connection outreach program for the homebound.)

She is on the board of the Boyertown Community Ambulance Service, and she is currently volunteering as treasurer. In that role, she reviews the finances of the organization weekly, categorizes the income and expenses, and reports back to the board. She also assists in securing grants for future sustainability of the organization.

Kim is a routine blood donor with Miller-Keystone Blood Center and also a canteen volunteer at blood drives. She is also involved with a group of friends, ironically called “Friends Who Serve”. They pick projects in the community to volunteer with, such as soup kitchens, pantry collections etc., finding ways to help when they can.

She enjoys going to Keystone Villa with friends to decorate cupcakes with residents several times a year (she misses this dearly during Covid times).

She was also a friendly face and welcome volunteer with activities her children participated in when they were younger. She volunteered with Boyertown Little League Baseball, the Boyertown Soccer Club, the Boyertown swim team as an official and swim parent volunteer, and also with the Optimist Club of Boyertown when her husband was the coordinator of the Biddy Basketball program.

She currently works part time for Abilities in Motion, working with a special young woman who is diagnosed with autism and down syndrome. She has a great time dancing, exercising, along with many other activities that help them to be active.

Most importantly, she is extremely proud of her family. She has been devotedly married to Todd for 41 years in April. She is a proud mother to Travis and Erin and Nana to Kira and Trey. She is the family organizer, supporter and has always been ready to help wherever needed, whether it is making dinner, helping to fundraise, driving them to appointments, or just talking. 

“Mentor of the Year” is Donnie Ellixson

The Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Committee is pleased to announce the 67th Mentor of the Year, Master Donnie Ellixson, Jr.!

Master Donnie Ellixson, Jr. has been in martial arts training since 1981 and has been teaching martial arts for 33 years. However, there is much more to Donnie than just a 5th degree black belt and local martial arts instructor.
Ellixson opened his martial arts studio, Ellixson’s Tae Kwon Do Academy in Boyertown in 1994, at just 19 years of age. As a champion of the martial arts, he finds pride in educating youth and adult community members on fitness, personal defense and giving them tools to be the best they can be at life. He became involved in The Project Action Foundation (1995-2001), which provided scholarships to “at risk” youth in the community. He also founded and executed Ellixson’s Team Elite Golf Outing (1999-2017), as well as chaired many other fundraisers with the proceeds enabling his students to compete nationally and regionally. For the past 25 years, Ellixson has spoken to local youth about goals, bullying, and having a positive growth mindset. Coming from a rough upbringing allows Ellixson to not just talk about what he read in a book, but to share with the youth his own life experiences and how he overcame adversity. As a motivational speaker, Ellixson shares with the youth that a positive, focused, drug-free mind can accomplish anything. Ellixson notes that nothing great in life can be achieved without hard work and believing in yourself, and a 40 hour week doesn’t exist if you want to get ahead.

As part of Ellixson’s students’ requirements to achieve Black Belt, they must participate in 25 hours of community service and 20 random acts of kindness. This is part of Ellixson’s Pay It Forward Project. Each year the Pay it Forward Project is responsible for over 250 hours of community service and over 400 random acts of kindness in and around the Boyertown Community. With some grant assistance from ‘Building a Better Boyertown’ and volunteers from Ellixson’s Pay it Forward Project, Ellixson organized and executed, the installation of the 150th Boyertown Gardens in 2016 and received ‘The Safe Clean & Green Award’ as part of Pennsylvania’s Downtown Center’s Anniversary Gala in Harrisburg.

As a service to the community, he volunteers his time mentoring small business owners on the benefits of systems, consistent marketing, and staff training. Ellixson has run Personal Safety Courses for Women donating all proceeds to Safe Berks. One of his favorite requests is being asked as a Guest Reader at Elementary classrooms in the Boyertown area. Donnie volunteers his time life-coaching to those that have fallen on hard times or have succumbed to substance abuse. He also donates his time with youth groups, boy & girl scout troops, day care centers, and various churches to teach martial arts for free.

Beyond Boyertown, Ellixson is a world-renowned martial arts expert who has won many awards and competitions. Most notably, he was inducted into the Amerikick International Hall of Fame (2012), the Pennsylvania Karate Hall of Fame (2019), and Who’s Who in the Martial Arts Hall of Honors Chuck Norris Edition (2020). Ellixson promoted and executed the ‘Victory at Valley Forge National Martial Arts Championships’ 2000-2003. Ellixson also traveled the country heavily during the years 1996-2003 working for N.A.S.K.A (North American Sport Karate Association) as a judge, center judge, event coordinator, promoter, arbitrator and commentator. Ellixson’s Instructor’s Instructor and Martial Arts Legend, Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee, passed in 2018. Ellixson had the honor of working security at funerals for celebrities such as Linda Lee, the wife of Bruce Lee and ex-wife of Chuck Norris. Fun fact: Ellixson was a stunt fighter in M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Last Airbender.

While Donnie has accomplished many achievements over the decades, he is most proud of staying true to himself, his instructor, his students, and his art. He has taught and made a difference in over 4,000 students’ lives in the Boyertown area since 1994, having numerous students asking him to write recommendation letters for them. He loves seeing his students move on to excel outside of martials arts in school, college, family, career, or starting their own business and takes pride in them coming back to tell him about it years later. Ellixson doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he loves to work with, inspire, and light the spark for the next generation of martial arts. He is proud to be working in an industry filled with individuals who are passionately devoted to bettering themselves and the people around them. He loves living martial arts with his beautiful wife, Jana and his children, Tristan, Charlie, and Piper.

“First Responder of the Year” is Andrew Duncan

The Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Committee is pleased to announce the 67th First Responder of the Year, Andrew Duncan.

Andrew Duncan has been the Chief of Gilbertsville Fire and Rescue for over a year now. His 18 years with the fire company has given him the experience and leadership skills to work with a dedicated group of volunteers. The current pandemic has prompted new training procedures to ensure that the team is trained well and safely. He secured appropriate PPE to ensure his crew’s safety and converted to Zoom meetings when they were unable to meet in person. He encouraged his crew to bring new ideas to the company, which inspired the creation and implementation of both a Junior and Explorer Fire Fighting program. He began a rotation of the Chief’s vehicle with his line officers, giving them leadership experience. He worked to secure funding to enable the construction of a new firehouse in 2021 and support fire and rescue operations in the future. He recently coordinated efforts to help a firefighter family recover after losing their home to a fire. Andy has helped to organize and implement safe fundraising ventures since the main source of funding (Bingo) had to close during the pandemic.

Andy is described as someone who does not use his “Chief” position for power, but uses it as an opportunity to lead, teach, learn, and grow as a person. He strives to make every member of the company feel appreciated, equal, valued, and as if their voice matters.

Andy lives in Gilbertsville with his wife Megan and children Cole (17), Julia (14), and Bailey (14)

“Senior of the Year” Co-Winner Kelsey Brinckman

The Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Committee is pleased to announce one of the two winners for the 67th Senior Student of the Year, Kelsey Brinckman!

Kelsey is a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, and Health Occupations Students of America. She attends Berks Career and Technology Center for Sports Medicine and is in her third year. At Boyertown Area Senior High, she has been a high honor roll student since ninth grade and has been involved in many volunteer experiences. For her senior project at BCTC, she collected over 700 pounds of pet food and other supplies for the Berks County Animal Rescue League. Once she graduates in 2021, she will be attending Alvernia University for Occupational Therapy. Outside of the Boyertown community, she is very involved in drag racing, where she has won two Division 1 Championships along with many other races and distinctions. Through racing, she is also a mentor to many young racers who are just getting started and need guidance in the sport.

“Senior of the Year” Co-Winner is Jake Dawson

The Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Committee is pleased to announce one of the two winners for the 67th Senior Student of the Year, Jake Dawson!

Jake lives in Gilbertsville with his Mom and Dad, Matt and Sara Dawson. Jake has four siblings – Casey, Alexis, Abigail and Joshua that he enjoys hanging out with. As a lifelong Boy Scout having earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2019, Jake takes pride in mentoring younger scouts, one of his favorite parts of the Boy Scout program. Jake also volunteers at the Boyertown Community Library and with In Ian’s Boots, a local non-profit providing shoes and boots to those in need. Jake can be seen marching through the streets of Boyertown during the Halloween and Memorial Day Parades as a member of the Boyertown Area High School Marching Band. In his down time he enjoys Boyertown Bear hunting, hanging at the park and working on computers. Jake is described as a kid with integrity, kindness, extreme positivity, and willingness to take care of his community. After working as an intern for the BASH IT department this year and having achieved a perfect score on the ACT, Jake is planning to attend an accredited Polytech school as a Computer Science major next year

“Special Recognition Award” to Optimist Club of Boyertown

The Boyertown Area Citizen of the Year Committee is pleased to announce the 67th Special Recognition Award to The Optimist Club of Boyertown!

The Optimist Club of Boyertown was founded on March 21, 1954 under the charter President Chester While. Under the current leadership of President Mike Stanchak and Past President Dave Johnson, the club serves over 1,750 children in the Boyertown Area, and provides opportunities to all children to participate in recreational athletic programs. These programs include basketball (boys and girls), cheerleading, football, lacrosse (boys and girls), and softball. The guiding principles of these programs aim to instill these lessons in the youth we serve:

Optimism
Perseverance
Teamwork
Integrity
Maturity
Intellect
Sportsmanship
Trust

Each athletic program is utilized as a tool to introduce, cultivate, develop, and grow these attributes in children, and teach them to integrate them into their daily lives outside of athletic development and competition, knowing these pillars will serve them well through their growth as both individuals and members of a community.

The club is operated completely by adults in the Boyertown community who possess servant hearts and have an unwavering desire to give back to the community. They play a part in making a lasting impact on the next generation of community leaders and members who will continue the traditions and lessons instilled in them tomorrow, through the efforts of these volunteers today.