MARION -- A true jewel in the Marion community, the owner of Diamond Designs by the McNeills takes service to the next level through a generous combination of donations, fundraisers and the best service in the business. A pillar of the community, Elizabeth McNeill recently received a 'Good Neighbor' Award inspired by Fred Rogers for his service as an educator and all-around great neighbor and community member.
WISU Public Broadcasting, a service of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, created the 'Good Neighbor' Awards to recognize those who make a positive impact in the community. Each month during 2019, winners were chosen from nominations submitted by the public.
The third-generation business was launched by Elizabeth's grandfather Don McNeill when he left the Navy shortly following World War II. His son Steve opened Diamond Designs in Marion in 1996, and Elizabeth McNeill took the helm about five years ago after her father's passing.
Employee Diane King nominated McNeill for the 'Good Neighbor' Award based on the unsurpassed "spirit of continuous community involvement I've witnessed here watching Liz in action."
As part of the local Poshard Foundation's annual brunch, Diamond Designs shares its signature and wildly popular Diamond Drop, which has encouraged more than $50,000 in fundraising over the past 15 years. The company has also raised more than $4,500 for the City of Energy's police dog Unit Fundraiser and donated raffle items for the Little Black Dress Party benefiting the Women's Center, netting more than $10,000 for the annual event.
In addition, the store has donated to the Finding Forever Animal Rescue, a family struggling to pay for funeral expenses following a tragic motorcycle accident, and many more local individuals and organizations in need. McNeill and other family members also regularly volunteer to teach an interactive lesson on pearls at Marion Junior High School.
McNeill says she inherited her compassion and dedication to others from her dad. "My dad did as much as he could for the community, and he was raised by a pair of good parents, too." Her grandparents lived through the Great Depression and also believed strongly in giving back whenever possible.
"The customer loyalty at Diamond Designs exemplifies the relationship this family has built within our southern Illinois community," added King, who has worked in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years from New York to the San Francisco Bay Area to Virginia Beach and never witnessed community involvement at such an impressive level.
Diamond Designs is recognized for its beautiful, unique styles of jewelry, on-site repairs and sizing, custom designs and friendly service. "When somebody wants something that not everybody has, they know to come here," said McNeill, who handpicks most of the stones and arrangements. Some of her favorite memories include helping families celebrate special moments and selecting priceless gifts for loved ones.
Both women acknowledge the importance of being a good neighbor today.
McNeill defines it as "somebody who cares about the community where they live, where they work" while King notes that "this world has become separated on so many levels. A good neighbor embraces community diversity, is the glue that binds minds and is the inherent supportive goodness that brings hearts together."
The Marion community is fortunate to have good neighbors shining their light at Diamond Designs.
About One Region All Neighbors
Inspired by the life and legacy of Fred Rogers and in honor of his vision, WSIU's One Region, All Neighbors initiative encourages community members to nominate those who are making positive contributions through acts of kindness, compassion and service. Each month, winners are chosen from nominations submitted by the public in five categories -- individual, youth, educator, community group and business. WSIU recognizes these winners on its television and radio stations, website and social media.
All awardees and nominators will be invited to attend a special ceremony where they will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to their communities.
Nominate Your Neighbors
WSIU encourages the public to participate in One Region, All Neighbors campaign by nominating neighbors online at http://www.wsiu.org/neighbor and sharing on social media using #WeAreAllNeighbors.