Woman of the Year

Saben honored for life-long contributions to community

GFWC-IL PRAIRIE STATE Woman’s Club has named Coal City resident Phyllis Saben as its 2017 Woman of the Year. Saben accepted the honor during a presentation at Coal City’s Octoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 7. Photo by Ann Gill

For over 60 years, Phyllis Saben has given her time and talent to better the community and its citizens. Last week she was named Woman of the Year, a long overdue honor for a woman with a heart for volunteerism.
The award is presented each fall by the GFWC-IL Prairie State Woman's Club; a woman who has given her time, talents and energy to the community.
“(Phyllis) gives selflessly of her heart and soul, and is a quiet volunteer for she will show up to help without begin asked. I truly believe she lives the word volunteer,” stated the nomination letter submitted to the organization for its consideration.
The woman's club obviously agreed and selected Saben from a list of nominees to be recognized in front of the community. The award was presented during the community's annual Octoberfest celebration on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Saben acknowledged she was surprised to have received the award, but was thankful for the honor bestowed upon her.
Saben’s notable contributions date back to the 1950s when she organized the town’s the first Cub Scout pack. Sponsored by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars, Pack 462 was made up of eight dens with 68 boys participating. From that she went on to organize the adult leadership, assigning volunteers to fill various roles within the pack. She also worked with the Rainbow Council on pow wows for a number of years, taking on the lead role when it came to crafts, games and administration.
Her involvement in Scouting also found her working with girls as she became a Girl Scout leader and then assumed the duties of troop leader with the assigned task of placing new Scouts into various groups. Through her dedicated involvement with Girl Scouts she attained the honor of being Neighborhood Chairman.
Her work with organizations that supported children also included membership in the school's Parent Teacher Association (PTA) where she served one year as president. As it happened her term coincided with the year the school district was formed.
Saben is the mother of six children who have provided her with the joy of grandchildren and great-grandchilden.
She notes that she had to cut her attendance at one great-grandson's birthday party to make it back to Coal City in time for the award presentation.
A long time member of New Hope Presbyterian Church, Saben holds the title of deacon. Through her involvement in the church, she was selected for honorary life membership in 2012 by the Presbyterian Women of the Presbyterian Church USA. Additionally, she was named the church's Mother of the Year in 2016.
Her work with the church has found her teaching Sunday school and Vacation Bible School, hosting the weekly Bible study, helping with coffee hours, funeral diners and a host of other church activities.
She delivered Meals on Wheels and worked at the food pantry. And when the community was hit by a tornado in 2015, Saben was there to help even through her own home was destroyed by the wind and rain.
Post tornado, Saben assisted with cleanup and continues to work with the church on its volunteer program, as well as the cozy blanket program that provides blankets and throws to those impacted by a disaster.
In addition to all that she does within the church, Saben finds time to give rides to those in need of getting to the doctor or the grocery store, and she takes time to visit shut-ins with the hope of bringing a little light to their day.
Saben is also a long-time member of the Braidwood TOPS chapter and serves as its publicist, providing weekly chapter reports to the newspaper.
“Phyllis is one of those woman who you can call at the last minute and she finds time to help you whatever your need is,” the nomination stated.