Our City, Our Story - Rockford, Illinois

This is a project that started as a way of telling stories to remind my community who it was. It started out in a time where our community had bad press. A city best remembers its values by having stories told about itself.

Merle and Stella

It started with a facebook post. After 162 Million views, it shows that love is a powerful thing.

Almost 79 years married.

We could tell you about their first dance, or we could tell you about how there was an objection to them getting married… But, instead, we’re going to show you how their love survives. How it is difficult to age, but after 80 years and is stronger than ever.


An Angel to believe in.

A powerhouse, Angel Martinez, was only a senior at Auburn High School (Rockford, Illinois), and he’s already become one of the most heralded athletes in Rockford’s history. Once you meet him and know him, you’ll see how he’s the type of guy you want to succeed.

He is an Angel to believe in.



One day, Darnel Royal’s co-worker handed him a pair of steel-toed work boots that he didn’t want anymore and told Darnel to make a post on his facebook to give ’em away. This pair was new, the co-worker just didn’t like how they fit. Darnel received 53 messages for these boots. Most were from people in the community needing steel-toed work boots to be able to start their employment. They couldn’t start their job because they steel-toed work boots, but they needed the job to be able to afford the boots in the first place. So, they remained unemployed.

Darnel knew he could help, and started #WorkbootMinistry


R.O.C.K. Cop — Officer Thurmond

Resident Officer Community Keeper is his official title, and this accurately describes what Eric does. The R.O.C.K. program is an initiative where a police officer is designated to a high crime area and is the point person for them. Not only are they a familiar face in dealing with that segment of the city, they also live in the area they are serving. As Eric puts it “Their problems are my problems because I live here.”

See Rockford Police Resident Officer Thurmond as he interacts with the community, and as he tells what he does.


Crust & Crumbles

When Jojo G. needed a job, she took a chance to call the Rockford City Market to pitch a booth. She bluffed her way into a path that has now become her career. See how this passionate mother and entrepreneur has become a model for what happens when you create opportunity.


Band Grandpas

Dr Arnie Rosen thought, “…when I retire I want to be a ‘Band Grandpa’.” This was an idea that he formed in his head, and didn’t actually become a thing until he and the Rockford Public Schools ( RPS 205 ) sat down together. Other “Band Grandpas” signed on, and this is the story of its first steps…


Hazzard Free Farms

Andy Hazzard had been a staple of downtown Rockford before she decided to acknowledge her true calling of farming. She was a waitress at Octane, she worked on jewelry at several art fairs, but when it came down to it, she had far too strong of a connection with nature.