ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Vicki Benson has impacted the lives of countless children and young women over the years.

She started two nonprofits that are still going strong today. Vicki believs that letting young people know they matter can be life changing. That what makes Vicki Benson remarkable.

Vicki Benson believes all children should be honored on their birthday. That’s why she started Rosie’s Birthday Club.

“As I was in the school system I found out that even high school kids did not have birthdays. So we felt that it was a real gap in this community that no one was celebrating birthdays and actually honoring a person for being alive. You know, that they matter,” she explained.

Named after Vicki’s mom, Rosie’s Birthday Club hosts monthly parties at ten locations. And it’s not just the little kids who enjoy it.

“When we had our first party we had at least three young men come in that were 16, 17. They were probably about 6’5″, 6’4″. They were just really tall guys,” Vicki described. “And so I was like, ‘You know, you guys don’t have to be here if you don’t want to for the party. We’re just decorating hats and doing that.’ They stayed the whole time. They sat and decorated their hat. Their birthday hat. Because they wanted to have a birthday hat.”

Rosie’s Birthday Club has now held 10,000 celebrations, which comes as no surprise to people who know Vicki.

“This is volunteering for 33 years. And the youth and the young kids that she has impacted I think is phenomenal,” explained Barb Verni-Lau, who nominated Vicki.

Vicki also started an after-school program for young women after hearing about a female high school student sent home several times because of the way she dressed.

“She said ‘I don’t’ want to be suspended. I really do want to know how to dress. I really want to know how to do things.’ So the principal said ‘ Well if you do, see if anybody else does.’ And in one afternoon she got fifty young women to come forward and say, ‘We want to know too.’ So we started the group at Auburn and now it’s been 20 years,” Vicki said.

The Young Women’s Leadership Organization has expanded to include other local high schools. When Vicki sees a need in the community, her friends say she doesn’t hesitate to help.

“If we have the holiday shop and try to raise money, she’s the first one to say, ‘Yes, I’ll help.'” said Verni-Lau. “With the young women’s leadership, even when they graduate she still is in contact with the people. With the Boys and Girls Club, she goes there all the time. She’s in contact with them.”

Vicki says she gets just as much out of volunteering as those who benefit.

“You know, sometimes we have these young high school guys that are crying cause you gave them a pair of shoes that they couldn’t afford. You know what I mean? So it’s just I don’t know. It keeps you going,” Vicki said.

Vicki is one of four finalists in our Remarkable Women contest. We will feature the others over the next three weeks before announcing the winner.