Arlington Heights Hearts of Gold: Special Events Commission Announces 2014 Honorees

The Arlington Heights Special Events Commission is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 Hearts of Gold awards, who will be honored in a community celebration at the Hearts of Gold Awards Dinner at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, February 8, 2014 at DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago – Arlington Heights, 75 W Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights.

This awards program recognizes individuals who work or live in our community and enrich the quality of life in Arlington Heights through their generous contributions and acts of kindness. One of the goals of this program is to acknowledge individuals who typically do not receive community-wide recognition for their outstanding efforts.

The public has the opportunity to nominate individuals, businesses and groups for these awards in October of each year. Thanks to everyone who provided such outstanding nominations for the eleven Hearts of Gold categories. If you know of anyone deserving of a Heart of Gold, please watch the website for an October announcement regarding the award nominations for the 2015 Hearts of Gold.

All citizens are welcome to attend this community celebration which recognizes the extraordinary efforts of ordinary people. The cost of reservations is $50. Residents interested in attending, can contact email [email protected] or call 847-368-5104.

The 2014 Hearts of Gold Honorees:

Mentor: Jim Sanecki.
This award recognizes an individual who has done an outstanding job in inspiring others to excel, serves as a role model and provides leadership.

Jim Sanecki has coached Soccer, Basketball and Volleyball in Arlington Heights for many years and was also a referee with the Arlington Aces soccer program. As a supervisor with the Aces, Jim mentored many young referees and helped them develop and perfect their skills.

Currently, Jim has stepped into different volunteering roles such as helping seniors at the Arlington Heights Senior Center prepare their tax returns. His assistance and advice is greatly appreciated by those who do not have his level of expertise.

Jim also never hesitates to help someone in need of his carpentry services. He has generously helped many seniors and disabled persons in our community who need home improvement work done. Jim often donates his time for these projects, asking that the homeowner only pay him for materials needed.

Jim includes young adults on these remodeling projects, mentoring them in refining their skills. Throughout his 15 years in Arlington Heights, he has proven to be a valuable resource for residents who can benefit from his many talents.

Best Neighbor: Lois Anderson.
This award recognizes a resident who consistently goes out of their way to be a good neighbor.

Lois Anderson is described as someone who does all of the “little things” that are so important to others.

Lois gives the selfless gifts of cards, phone calls, time, and words of encouragement to her friends and neighbors. She is the neighborhood “friendly visitor” who will check in on those who need care, or need a ride for an errand or appointment, or just need someone to check in on them regularly.

She also exudes the same compassion for her church neighbors at First United Methodist, serving as a PADS volunteer, and volunteering for many other services through her church.

She has touched many lives through what she has done in her neighborhood, church and other organizations.

Educator – Donna O’Hearn.
This award recognizes an educator in Arlington Heights who goes beyond the school day to help teach our children.

Donna O’Hearn is a special education instructor with Arlington Heights School District 25 and is a teacher described as someone who puts her heart and soul into the education of students. Donna will be retiring from District 25 this year.

For over 30 years, Donna has helped many young students with special needs, and has been a great resource for the parents of these students. Her dedication and compassion towards her students has made a difference in many lives of District 25 families.

Mrs. O, as she is called by her students, partners with parents to ensure her students get the best possible start in education. Her involvement with students goes far beyond being an educator, and for many she has personally guided them through obstacles to make sure they succeed in every way possible.

Young at Heart – Joseph Ruane.
This award recognizes a senior citizen in Arlington Heights who continues to actively contribute to our community.

The Young at Heart Heart of Gold recognizes a senior citizen who actively contributes to our community. This year’s honoree, Joseph Ruane, has lived in Arlington Heights for 48 years, raised four children here and has fondly been nicknamed the “Mayor of North Ridge Avenue” because of his friendliness and willingness to be a resource for his neighbors.

Joseph is one of those neighbors that anyone can turn to when needing recommendations on repair companies, information on where to find hard-to-find items or just needing some neighborly advice.

Joseph is very active in St. James church where he has worked with PADS, is a song leader and a lector for 43 years.

He also volunteers with the Escorted Transportation Service where he takes senior citizens, who are unable to drive, to doctor appointments. On his own time, he routinely drives one of his elderly neighbors to her appointments.

It seems that wherever help is needed in his neighborhood or church community, Joseph is willing to volunteer his time to make a difference in the lives of others.

Heroic – Patrick and Donna Fanning.
This award recognizes someone who goes above and beyond in performing a “heroic” deed.

Patrick and Donna Fanning are recipients of the Heroic Heart of Gold for being heroes to hundreds of needy children each holiday season who benefit from their program, “Operation Christmas.” Their annual holiday program provides hundreds of needy children with gifts every Christmas.

The Fannings work throughout the year to gather gift items, donations and names of needy children in the Chicagoland area. Names are given by churches, organizations and shelter directors from the west side of Chicago up to Waukegan.

The not-for-profit organization, Operation Christmas, matches donor families with children’s gift lists that include everything from the basics like blankets and socks to computers and electronic games. While the Fannings do not expect donor families to provide all gifts that are listed for needy children, many are dedicated to do everything they can to provide a happy Christmas to those in need.

The Fannings have dedicated countless hours, 365 days a year, to fulfill the wishes of many needy children by finding donors, collecting presents and distributing much-needed presents that brighten the holidays for many who would go without if it wasn’t for the Operation Christmas program.

Young Champion – Caitlin Nagle.
This award recognizes a middle school or high school student who does more than expected to have a positive impact on our community.

Caitlin, a Junior at John Hersey High School, was selected as the Young Champion honoree which recognizes a middle school or high school student who goes beyond what is expected to have a positive effect on our community.

Caitlin started volunteering in the community in 6th grade when her and her dog participated in a program to visit residents of Luther Village. Caitlin’s volunteerism spirit continues today with her participation in the schools’ Peer Tutoring program, Hersey Super Buddies which spends time with children with special needs, Big Brother/Big Sister program where she spends one lunch hour a week at Miner School, the Arlington Heights Peer Jury which helps monitor disputes between juveniles, and she is also very involved in the Special Olympics program. Her work with the Special Olympics is one of her biggest commitments where she works with physically and mentally impaired students in a variety of sporting events.

In addition to her involvement stated above, Caitlin serves as President of the Class of 2015, participates in the Cross Country and Track teams and is involved in leadership programs and other clubs at school.

Volunteer – Debbie Smart.
This award recognizes someone with a true volunteer spirit who contributes their time to charitable or civic organizations in the Village.

Debbie Smart is this year’s Hearts of Gold Volunteer honoree. The award recognizes someone who contributes their time and talents to organizations in our Village.

Debbie is described as someone that embodies the spirit of volunteerism who has a can-do spirit and willingness to make a difference. She volunteers through her church, St. John United Church of Christ, she volunteers for programs that help the disadvantage, participates in fundraisers, and organizes the Tuscan Market Book club events, where she is Manager, to encourage Arlington Heights residents to read and participate in book discussions. Closer to home, Debbie has also devoted many hours in helping care for her mother.

Debbie also serves on the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board, served a term on the Village’s Arts Commission, and also chaired an independent Task Force that studied Metropolis Performing Arts Theatre, making suggestions regarding its business model.

Community Spirit – Laurie Taylor and Sam Moser.
This award recognizes an individiual or group tht has made a significant contribution to the Village, often working on a thankless, but necessary project.

Both Laurie Taylor and Sam Moser epitomize what the Community Spirit Hearts of Gold is all about – working on an often thankless, but necessary, project that results in a significant contribution to Arlington Heights.

Laurie, from the Northgate Civic Association, and Sam, from the Heritage Park Association, were both extensively involved in promoting the community initiative to treat Village ash trees that were being attacked by the Emerald Ash Borer. Their efforts led to the 50/50 Cost Share Program that allows residents to be reimbursed 50% of an ash tree’s treatment costs, up to $50 per parkways ash tree, if treated with the Village’s preferred method of a trunk injection of TREE-age. Due to their combined efforts, the program now involves the treatment of 1,800 ash trees that are in the Village’s parkways.

Laurie and Sam each treat ash trees in their neighborhoods which were hit hard by the Emerald Ash Borer. While both Laurie and Sam worked separately on treating ash trees, both of them have worked towards the same goal for the community – which was to create a cost-share program that provided an incentive for residents to treat ash parkway trees in their neighborhoods.

Business Leadership – Dr. Joe Favia.
This award recognizes a business that goes beyond its responsibilities and makes significant, philanthropic contributions and/or participates in organizations that improve the quality of life in our Village.

Dr. Joe Favia is a dentist who goes beyond his practice to volunteer for Arlington Heights’ activities and dedicate time to its business community.

As a local dentist, Dr. Favia recently offered to treat a young boy, free of charge, who was unable to afford any treatment for a painful infection he was suffering from. Dr. Favia’s staff handled the boy’s treatment and asked for nothing in return.

Besides helping out someone in need, Dr. Favia also dedicates countless hours of volunteering for various community activities and is involved in the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. When he served as Chamber President in 2010, Dr. Favia helped start the first Taste of Arlington Heights which met with great success and continues as a community event today.

In addition to volunteering and supporting local causes and activities, Dr. Favia was also chair and founder of the Windy City Classic Celebrity Golf Tourney which has raised over $1 million for Cancer research.

Kenneth M. Bonder Beautification – Tracy Marchetti.
This award, named after the former Village Manager of Arlington Heights, recognizes someone who has made a special effort to enhance the physical character of our community.

This award, named after a former Arlington Heights Village Manager, recognizes someone who has made a special effort to enhance the physical character of our community. Tracy, a Westgate School parent, worked tirelessly on her vision to transform the outside areas of Westgate School, creating an appealing and welcoming landscape.

Starting her project with no funding, Tracy organized school groups and parents to help with landscaping efforts at the school. Eventually, through donations and bake sales, Tracy was able to begin purchasing landscape materials.

Tracy continued to find funding and was able to get a 30-50% discount through Arlington Heights’ Lowe’s Home Improvement store to purchase plants to help beautify the schools, as well as grants from the school’s PTA group and ABC25. In 2012, she received the Lowe’s Heroes Grant of $5,000 and with other business donations, Tracy was able to successfully continue her vision of transforming the beautification of Westgate school for all to enjoy.

Pam Stocking Heart of Gold – Paula Ulreich.
This award, named after the Village’s first Disability Services Coordinator, recognizes someone whose passion and spirit has impacted the entire Village in a unique and special way.

The Pam Stocking Heart of Gold, named after the first Village employee who served as the Disability Services Coordinator, recognizes an individual whose passion and spirit has impacted the entire Village in a unique and special way.

Paula Ulreich has been named this year’s Pam Stocking honoree for her endless passion in working tirelessly throughout the years on many projects for the Village of Arlington Heights and Wheeling Township. Paula is a former member of the Village’s Special Events Commission and the Clerk of Wheeling Township since 1981. She also served on numerous boards in the community.

In her work as the Wheeling Township Clerk, Paula never hesitated to do what she could to ensure people were registered to vote. If someone was unable to come to her office to register, Paula offered to go to their homes to help get them registered.

With her tenure on the Special Events Commission, Paula was a reliable, creative and spirited volunteer who put in the extra effort to make every event an enjoyable one for families. Paula had worked as a Kindergarten teacher and her passion was to make the Commission’s community events popular for children as well as adults.

Her outgoing spirit, compassion and unending willingness to help, are attributes that make her a fitting honoree for the Pam Stocking Heart of Gold.

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