BLOG: Honoring North side superstars

11th Annual North Star Awards recognizes great work in Madison
BLOG: Honoring North side superstars
Michelle Li hosts the North Star Community awards, Paul Noeldner is one of the 2014 recipients

Who says we don’t cover good news?

The North Star awards are a great way for one of Madison’s communities to come together and honor all of the good things going on.

I was honored to help host the awards this year and felt close to this group since I am a Northeast sider as well.  Madison is a great city but it’s nice to take the time to cover something happening a little less west-centric.  No offense, west siders!

For the awards, a handful of people are recognized for going above and beyond.  They can be nominated by individuals or groups.  Here are the winners:

Steve Nelson, DuWayne’s Salon – The business is firmly committed to supporting Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. Steve organized a “Welcome Home, DAIS!” Week that inspired neighbors and peers to show the group a homecoming it could never have imagined. Since then, DuWayne’s has continued to support DAIS by providing hair products for the families who stay in the shelter. 

John Weier – John has helped middle school students conquer challenging assignments and spends many hours reading with elementary students. He’s more than a math tutor, he’s also become a friend and mentor to students.

Diane Walder – Diane raised community awareness of the need for more support and resources for those taking care of elderly parents.  She was instrumental in developing a fundraising campaign in 2011 to help NESCO absorb an unanticipated cut in funding. She also opened her home to a homeless family and for a year, took them to appointments and helped a young man find a job.

Paul Noeldner – Paul proposed and organized a popular, monthly bird and nature walk at Warner Park and Cherokee Marsh.  He put together campaigns to earn Madison and Maple Bluff “Bird City USA” designations and continues to work with the Sherman Middle School Nature Explorers program.

100 Black Men of Madison – The group acts as a beacon of leadership to create environments where our children are motivated to achieve and where our people are empowered to become self-sufficient in communities. Many northside families know about 100 Black Men of Madison’s Backpacks for Success program and wait in long lines to get a backpack.

Independence Day Committee – This group of volunteers agreed to restore a community, family-friendly event for the 4th of July after Rhythm and Booms moved downtown. They had a big “can do” attitude.

Ellen Barnard – Ellen took an idea that had been floating around Madison for decades without result to create a shared commercial kitchen space for food entrepreneurs, caterers, food processors and non profits. Ellen saw the potential for this project, the FEED Kitchens, to be an economic boon, a community hub and a place where dreams can come true.

If you have pictures from the event, we’d love to see them!  Email them to or tweet @michellelitv or send on Facebook.