A community newsletter serving New Melle, Defiance, Augus​ta, Marthasville, Dutzow​​ a​nd surrounding areas.

NMCC Awards Janet Hespen 2024 Community Service Award

At the Scholarship Awards Banquet on Thursday, May 16, the New Melle Chamber of Commerce (NMCC) surprised Janet Hespen with the 2024 Community Service Award at the Quarry Wine Garden.

Dianne Sudbrock, the first award recipient in 2021, presented Janet with the award. Dianne described Janet as "the doer, the goer, and the getter," emphasizing that Janet is always willing to lend a helping hand. Janet is known for offering her help with phrases like "I can go get that," "I can bring that to you," "I can bring our truck," and "I can run that back to storage." She has been doing this for 30 years.


Janet owns Fitness First and has taught fitness classes in the community for 36 years. She conducts classes five days a week, at the American Legion Hall in Wentzville or IHM Church in New Melle. (*See below for details.)

As a member of the NMCC, she has served as President, President-Elect, and Executive Board Member. She chaired and co-chaired the Community Easter Egg Hunt, Spring Fling, and Charity Golf Tournament for many years. Each year at the Easter Egg Hunt, Janet marks the field with ribbons for the age groups, regardless of the weather. She also portrays Mrs. Claus in the New Melle Country Christmas.

Janet organized the Boy Scouts to fill thousands of plastic Easter eggs each year and encourages the hunters to return the eggs for reuse the following year, saving the Chamber thousands of dollars over time.

Janet, her husband Jerry, and their four kids, along with their families, are deeply rooted and involved in the community. Their family's involvement with the Scouts started 34 years ago. All four of her sons are Eagle Scouts. They have participated in Christmas tree sales, Scouting for Food, and numerous other fundraising and charitable events. Janet encourages families to learn more about the Scouting program at IHM Church.

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(L-R)  NMCC president-elect, Jackie Ginther, Dianne Sudbrock, Janet Hespen,
and NMCC co-presidents Sarah Hayek and Carla Brakensiek. 

Speaking of church, Janet is also a very involved member of IHM in New Melle. Janet serves as a Eucharistic Minister, was the former Youth Minister, served on the Finance Committee and is a member of the Marion Council. Janet has also been involved with just about every facet of the church sausage dinners.
The Hespen's have also been known as the main organizers of the Scout's incredible parade floats and for their Christmas "Grinch scenes" for the Light Up New Melle contest over many years.

Dianne concluded with, “You get the picture. To go, to do, to get - whatever - whenever.”

Janet was honored and pleasantly surprised to receive the Chamber's Community Service Award and surprised by the attendance of her family and friends. She expressed her gratitude to her family, friends, and longtime Chamber members who attended.

She credits her husband Jerry for his support in the background, referring to him as her private secretary. Janet expressed her thanks to the NMCC for selecting her as the recipient of this year's award, saying, "I am truly honored, and you definitely caught me off-guard."

Congratulations Janet and thank you for your great service to the New Melle community!

*At Fitness First the first class is always free. Visit a class to see what it is all about. Stop by or call Janet for more information at 314-369-6521. Janet’s classes are held at the American Legion Hall in Wentzville on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and at IHM Church, New Melle, on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 10 a.m. in the Grand Hall.