Company honors employee’s connection to Riverdahl

Steiner Electric has adopted Riverdahl School. It’s not unusual for local companies to help schools, but what’s unusual in the case of Steiner is the family connection.

Kari Westphal, a Steiner employee, is the great-granddaughter of Jacob A. Riverdahl, a former School Board president for whom the school is named. In the spring of last year, the family contacted Riverdahl Principal Teresa Schneider. Westphal’s father, John Riverdahl, had passed away; the family wanted to give $2,200 from the father’s memorial to the school.

At the same time, Steiner employees were looking for a community project. They were touched by the Riverdahl family’s donation and wanted to offer ongoing help to the school. “I was honored they chose the school, too,” Westphal said.

Steiner Electric has adopted Riverdahl School. Employees dropped off donations Aug. 14.

Steiner Electric has adopted Riverdahl School. Employees dropped off donations Aug. 14.

The first of Steiner’s donations were dropped off at Riverdahl Thursday, in plenty of time for the start of school Aug. 25. Among the gifts were 12 fans (the school, built in 1952, is not air-conditioned), two bicycles, Barbie dolls, socks and underwear. The latter items are essential, given that the school is PreK through second grade. More of the bonanza is coming next week.

Mrs. Schneider is especially thankful for the items – like unopened McDonald’s Happy Meal toys — she can use as rewards in the Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) system. The system is used throughout the Rockford Public Schools.

Students who follow the PBIS program at Riverdahl earn Bear Bucks, which they can spend at the PBIS “store” at the school. The principal says she’s usually just scraping by when it comes to stocking the store with rewards. The family’s initial gift – paired with the Steiner donations — will help build an inventory of incentives for the students. Some of the donated items were new toys, still in their packages.

What’s more, Steiner employees promised to restock school supplies later in the year.

The family’s donation and the ongoing support of Steiner Electric have made me reconsider a familiar refrain around Rockford. We hear so much about how companies have left the community, taking their charity and vested interest with them.

There are still many good people who make Rockford their home, and their acts of kindness and charity have a ripple effect. Riverdahl is riding the wave.

Mary Kaull is communications coordinator at the Rockford Public Schools. Contact her at mary.kaull@rps205.com. Like the district on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.