Winners of the 10th Annual Hearts of Gold Awards Announced

The 2008 Hearts of Gold awards will be honored in a community celebration at the 10th Annual Hearts of Gold Awards Dinner and Dance at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, February 2, 2008 at the Sheraton Chicago Northwest in Arlington Heights.

Gary Rukin, Mentor Heart of Gold Award, an Arlington Heights resident who has dedicated his time in countless areas at “The Bridge Youth and Family Services.”  His most significant contribution to the organization is mentoring at-risk children between the ages of 7 and 15 through the Youth Advocacy Program. His intensive support has helped motivate children and helped them navigate life’s many difficulties.

Fena D’Ottavio, Beautification Heart of Gold Award, a Downtown resident who donated her artistic flair to beautify an alley that runs between the apartment building she resides in and a restaurant next door. Her endeavor began as a clean-up effort of the popular pedestrian walk-thru and ended up as the creation of an oasis. Her creativity enlivened the alley and made it an inviting place to stroll and enjoy. Because of her vision and dedication, something ordinary was made extraordinary. It’s become a great addition to the beautiful upgrades of the Downtown.

Brian King, Best Neighbor Heart of Gold Award, has been awarded to a resident who never hesitates to lend a helping hand to his immediate neighbors and even to those who live blocks away. Whenever he has an opportunity, Brian is ready to help. For example, during a power outage experienced from the storms this past Summer, Brian brought a hot meal and flashlights to a woman without power and accommodated his next door neighbor by letting them hook into his generator. Brian King is the kind of neighbor who makes everyone feel comfortable and appreciated. He is always ready with a warm, friendly greeting and willing to lend his help whenever asked. He’s also appreciated for his handiwork and common sense approach in solving household maintenance issues. He and his wife, Rita, have ended up being much more than helpful neighbors – they have ended up becoming the heart and soul of a neighborhood.

Regina Kross and Diane Kaffka,  Educator Heart of Gold Award has been awarded to who are part of the “Stepping Stones” program of Arlington Heights District 25’s Early Childhood program. Together the pair has worked in shaping the lives of students who exhibit severe communication disorders. They work tirelessly in helping frustrated children achieve language skills that help them in communicating with others. Any small accomplishment is a major celebration for the children, teachers and families. Regina Kross, an Early Childhood teacher and Diane Kaffka, a Speech Pathologist, have shown endless commitment and patience in reaching children who require intensive and individualized attention. Their work and encouragement has improved the quality of life of many families needing their services.

Edwin Landow, “Young at Heart” Heart of Gold Award, an Arlington Heights resident, who spreads his high-energy spirit to many residents through his work at the American Legion Post 208, as Chaplain for the American Legion 9th District, and as a crossing guard supervisor for School District 25. Through his American Legion involvement, Edwin regularly visits disabled veterans at Hines Hospital, participates in community events through the American Legion Color Guard, and distributes food items and certificates to needy families on a monthly basis. His sincerity and great love for humankind is noteworthy. He is an example of how genuine acts of kindness positively affect the lives of others.

Amanda Geib, Young Champion Heart of Gold Award, Arlington Heights resident and senior at Buffalo Grove High School who finds it important to be involved in her community. Her actions speak volumes. She is a member of the Peer Ministry Team with her church where she goes on mission trips to help the less fortunate; she raised over $12,500 for the Tsunami victims; and she participates in the Arlington Heights Peer Jury and the Arlington Heights Youth Commission. She is also active in the Health Awareness Club at her school, various sports teams, peer counseling, chorus and other volunteer activities. Starting at a young age she has already made volunteering and helping others a significant part of her life. As testimony of her many exceptional accomplishments, Amanda was named the Grand Prize Recipient of the 2007 “Kids with Heart” award given by the Deer Park Town Center to recognize children for selfless acts of caring and compassion for others.

Alan Eberhardt, Volunteer Heart of Gold Award has been awarded to Alan Eberhardt, a long-time Arlington Heights resident who is actively involved with the Knights of Columbus and enthusiastically participates in programs geared toward helping children and those in need, volunteers in the P.A.D.S. program, is very involved in church activities, and volunteers in numerous outreach programs and activities such as participating in “Salute”. He reaches out to everyone in need of care and compassion, whether it’s someone recovering in a hospital, visiting someone who is bed-ridden or checking in on a family dealing with the loss of a loved one. His enthusiasm for life and genuine ability to make everyone feel important are attributes that make Al a volunteer with a heart of gold.

Ted Balcom, “City of Good Neighbors” Heart of Gold Award, has been awarded to  who is involved in numerous activities that enhance the cultural life in Arlington Heights. He is a volunteer at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library as a Discussion Leader for books and films. He also volunteers for the Arlington Heights Museum where he has done everything from leading important committees to dressing up as historical figures, and even as a Santa and a Leprechaun for various events! At the Museum, he was instrumental in transforming the Museum Country Store into the new Heritage Gallery which hosts local and national touring exhibits. This transformation has expanded the Museum’s outreach to the community. He is also active in the Arlington Heights Garden Club and during his presidency there the Club has maintained the Museum grounds and donated a sprinkling system there, planted a garden at the Senior Center and awarded scholarships. He was also recently appointed to the Village’s Arts Commission. Ted’s active participation and leadership in many aspects of our community life has added to Arlington Heights’ enviable quality of life.

Nicholas Pomaro (retired judge), The Pam Stocking Heart of Gold Award, has been awarded to an Arlington Heights resident who not only served the public as a Judge for nearly 30 years and before that a Cook County Prosecutor, but also is a strong advocate for those who are blind. Former Judge Pomaro has been blind since the age of 6, but has never let his disability become an obstacle. Throughout his distinguished career and life, Nick Pomaro has accomplished great things. One of his greatest accomplishments is the providing of a positive spirit and inspiration to others living with blindness. In his retirement, Nick Pomaro works as legal counsel for the not-for-profit Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. In this role, he represents mentors and inspires blind people who need countless resources of hope and help. His compassion and persistence has been an outstanding contribution to our community and to the betterment of life for those who are blind.

Charles Adler, Business Leader Heart of Gold Award, has been awarded to  a longtime business person in the Village who, through his law practice w
ith Adler Law Offices, Ltd. and involvement in civic organizations, participates in the Arlington Heights Thanksgiving Spirit Food Drive. Each year he works tirelessly to raise funds and provide full Thanksgiving dinners to over 400 people in need in our community. Through his selfless efforts, and those of the Noon Rotary Club of Arlington Heights, Arlington Park Racecourse and The Daily Herald, full holiday meals are prepared and delivered to hundreds less fortunate. His philanthropic efforts and volunteer spirit have added quality to the lives of many served through this annual Food Drive. As a business person he has shared his expertise and worked closely with others in completing successful community-wide or organizational efforts. His leadership and continued commitment to Arlington Heights have enriched our lives.