GENEVA – Kristie Dienst, who was born and raised in Geneva, always has been involved in her community.
At Geneva High School, she was a cheerleader and hall monitor, participated in student council and pep club and volunteered in the office.
In adulthood, Dienst has contributed to many organizations including the United Methodist Church of Geneva, Geneva Garden Club, Tri-City Family Services and Geneva Beautification.
In recognition of her giving spirit, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce named Dienst the Wood Community Service Award recipient for 2023 at its annual dinner Nov. 2 at Riverside Banquets in Geneva. It was the 39th anniversary of the Wood Award.
“I don’t even know what to say,” an emotional Dienst said as family and friends congratulated her.
“I’m very surprised,” Dienst said. “I’m honored more than anything I’ve done because I know so many people that have been the recipients and they are such pillars of the community. I can’t believe I’m among them.”
Dienst comes by her generosity honestly. Her father, Herb Granquist, started the Granquist Music Festival in which she, her mother and sister continued for years.
Lifelong friend Kathy McNeil, co-president of the Geneva Beautification Committee, said in a tribute video that Dienst grew up on the city’s east side with loving parents who set an example of service.
“As a wife, mother, daughter and sister, this individual’s love knows no bounds,” McNeil said. “I admire the dedication and commitment to beautify the city of Geneva that this individual has taken. If you want to know anyone in this town, all you have to do is simply ask. This individual knows everybody. I am proud to have grown up with this year’s Wood Award recipient and to call this individual my friend.”
Dienst is co-president of Geneva Beautification and has been a member since 2018.
She also serves as president of Geneva Community Chest after serving on that board for the past nine years.
Another friend, Maureen Radecki, described Dienst in the video as loving the community and wanting to give back.
Serving on the Geneva Community Chest together, Radecki said she witnessed Dienst’s work ethic, leadership and devotion to the community.
Geneva Community Chest raised $200,000 and distributed the money to 29 local charities this year.
Dienst’s sister, Konnie Sherry, said Dienst kept their father’s legacy alive by continuing the Granquist music competition.
Sherry said Dienst worked to get judges and volunteers, worked with parents, set the competition up at the high school and ran it, showing “immense dedication.”
“The energy and passion this person has for Geneva is amazing,” Sherry said. “Geneva doesn’t have a bigger fan than this person. And, in turn, I am this person’s biggest fan.”
The Geneva Chamber of Commerce presents the Wood Community Service Award each year to an individual who has made significant community contributions in the areas of business, education, youth involvement, civic organizations, art, recreation, charity or government. The award is named in honor of Bill and Elise Wood and Nell and Burton Wood, who all contributed to the growth and health of Geneva.