Arlington Heights held the Hearts of Gold awards, dinner and ceremony Saturday night February 18, 2017 at the Rolling Green Country Club.
The award recognize “unsung heroes,” who contribute to the community but are rarely recognized for the remarkable works they do to enhance the quality of life for others.
The 2017 Hearts of Gold awards winners …
• Joann Langley — Mentor Heart of Gold. The Fine Arts and Performing Arts Assistant at John Hersey High School, has been taking care of students and staff at Hersey for 17 years…and was helping at Rolling Meadows High School for eight years before that.
She is the co-founder of a nationally recognized show choir competition, Chicagoland Showcase, and her role at Hersey High School is to manage countless details for the choirs, show choirs and music programs. She puts her heart and soul into the services she offers at Hersey High School and is considered the glue that holds the Fine Arts program together.
Her endless dedication to the students and the Fine Arts programs at Hersey High School is considered a treasure and a reason why students involved in the Fine Arts and Performing Arts are able to accomplish great things.
• Ann Udell — Best Neighbor Heart of Gold. Ann Udell is described as remarkable by her neighbors of Northgate. Since 2012 Ann welcomes new neighbors in the subdivision, providing them with information and updates about the Village and the Northgate subdivision. She is always ready to greet new residents with an outgoing personality and welcoming smile.
Besides her ongoing welcoming of new residents in the area, Ann also serves as a Northgate Civic Association Trustee, works as a block captain and volunteers for neighborhood beautification projects and events. She also volunteers at the St. Edna’s Food Pantry, the Outreach Ministry at St. Edna’s, the Arlington Heights Veteran Association and the ALS Foundation.
Ann works tirelessly for her immediate neighborhood and also for organizations within Arlington Heights. Her kind efforts directly benefit her neighbors and have touched the lives of countless others.
• John Meyers Jr. — Educator Heart of Gold. John Meyers is an Instructional Aid for students with challenges at Prospect High School. He is passionate about his role and is dedicated to helping students who have difficulty with making social connections in school. Students who need his guidance seek him out because they know John Meyers is someone who understands them and will help them find their place in the Prospect High School community.
He oversees many clubs – from the Video Game Club to Diversity Club. The list of clubs he runs for students shows his ability to relate to students on all spectrums. He will also offer 1-on-1 assistance to a student so they feel comfortable at after-school events; he feeds lunch to a student and he created a safe table in the lunchroom to encourage students to sit together and talk with their peers.
John is a true inspiration to those he works with and he has an innate desire to make things great for all students.
• Kathy Kasprowicz — Young at Heart. Kathy Kasprowicz started the Escorted Transportation Service/Northwest (ETS), an agency that links volunteers to drive older adults to medical appointments, from her kitchen table. Now ETS celebrated its 10th anniversary and has provided over 24,000 rides.
Since retiring as the innovative agency’s director, Kathy has taken on the role as a volunteer, working as a driver each Tuesday. She also helps out in the office often and serves as the President of the Board.
Her volunteer activities also include Catholic Charities, the Wheeling Township Advisory Council, PADS, volunteering each Monday at the Saint James School Library, and serving on the Welcome Committee of her of her townhome association.
For Kathy, volunteerism is a passion and a true gift that can be given to many people who need extra assistance.
• Dawn and Tom Hedrick — Heroic Heart of Gold. Dawn and Tom Hedrick founded “Help USA Troops” after the loss of their son-in-law, USMC LCPL James Bray Stack in Afghanistan on November 10, 2010. Their goal is to honor James’ memory by providing “comfort boxes” to US Military personnel serving overseas.
Their collection program of comfort items requested by the troops, has grown to 50+ drop-off locations throughout Chicagoland and includes major companies, like California Pizza Kitchen, in the program. The Hedricks spearhead a large group of volunteers who help their efforts by collecting items, packing boxes for shipment or gathering letters of support from school children and church groups.
The comfort boxes have made a profound impact on the soldiers receiving them. When the Help USA Troops boxes are received, soldiers feel an immediate connection with their homeland and they feel thought of and supported.
• Hannah Mulroe — Young Champion Heart of Gold. Hannah is one of the top scholars at John Hersey High School, and besides being at the top of her class, her caring character urges her to serve others in many facets of her life.
At school, Hannah leads the executive-student council, chairs various events, is a vice-president of the choir, dance captain for the show choir, and a choreographer for Orchesis. Beyond the arts, she captains the divisional champion cross-country team.
She is also a devoted volunteer with Safe Haven and has helped with planting gardens for homeless veterans and building playgrounds for inner city children. For Hannah, her work with Safe Haven, where her father serves as co-president, illuminates the power of community.
Besides Hannah’s impressive grades and stellar service, Hannah has a great heart. She has a passion for doing what is right and for doing what is good.
• Carol Freiburg — Volunteer Heart of Gold. Carol Frieburg is the quintessential volunteer who values giving her time to the Arlington Heights Historical Society as a part-time employee and volunteer, at WTTW telethons, PADS, the bell choir at First Presbyterian Church, the Philanthropic Education Organization and to the Goede Questers where she serves as president.
Carol has long been affiliated with the Historical Society, previously serving on the Board and holding the offices of secretary and president. She has lived in Arlington Heights since the age of 9 and has been a volunteer since the museum campus consisted of one building – the Müller House. Carol has seen the physical campus and the programming grow into what they are today.
She also volunteers at events for the Chamber of Commerce and also plays piano a few mornings each week for residents of the memory care floor of the Moorings.
In addition to her dedicated volunteerism, Carol is the sole caregiver for her 92-year-old mother.
• Steve Von Boeckman — Community Spirit Heart of Gold. Steve Von Boeckman has a steady track record of involvement at Saint Peter’s school and church, from making sure the grass is cut and the grounds are kept beautiful, to calling out Bingo, to emceeing special events, to being a chaperone on mission trips, teaching Sunday School, to driving the tractor that pulls the wagon for the fall hayrides, and to also volunteer to help coach Saint Peter’s cross country team.
He extends his kindness beyond Saint Peter’s by visiting nursing homes to bring joy and add encouragement and comfort to those who are bed-ridden. He also helps with the annual SALUTE run, assists in the setup of Thomas Middle School track events, and helps facilitate annual runs for the Bill Heller Memorial foundation, named after his close friend.
He also cared for his mother-in-law, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, in his home for years and once she moved to Lutheran Home he taught his young grandsons the important life lesson of giving companionship to the elderly as well as love and respect.
Steve’s selfless service has made a difference in the lives of others.
• Westgate Dental Care (Dr. Peter Kics) — Business Leadership Heart of Gold. Dr. Peter Kics and his team have created a warm, inviting dental care facility where patients can feel good about themselves and receive optimal care in a friendly environment.
In addition to exceptional dental care for the last 15 years, Dr. Kics has integrated his practice into the community. They contribute regularly to local food pantries and the Apple Tree Campaign that distributes school supplies to families in need. Additionally, they support local schools, Knights of Columbus, Oral Cancer Foundation, local clubs and arts organizations, countless activities and fund-raisers. Most notably, Westgate Dental Care has also provided over $80,000 in free dental service to those facing financial hardship through their “Dentistry from the Heart” program.
Westgate Dental also hosts regular Patient Appreciation events including a Food Truck social and a Movie Night where clients and staff can meet and get to know one another.
Dr. Kics has been committed to the Arlington Heights community with his downtown office, and he plans to expand to a second local facility, opening in late 2017.
• Lynnea Semasko — Kenneth M. Bonder Beautification Hearts of Gold. Lynnea Semasko has been involved in beautification projects of her Surrey Ridge West subdivision since moving to Arlington Heights 44 years ago. In her role, she helps keep the entrance medians in her neighborhood blooming and welcoming. She also volunteered to help remove the fencing from the Nike military base and was active in the effort to convert the base into the Arlington Lakes golf course.
Lynnea moved beyond her neighborhood as a member of the Arlington Beautification Council serving as Vice President for eighteen years. In her role she researched city ordinances making certain there were no restrictions to the beautification efforts, worked with village officials giving beautification awards to local businesses, even creating the wood/brass/epoxy prizes herself. Once the village undertook beautification as a priority the council dissolved.
Many of the current aesthetic works of the village were ideas seeded by the council. From the lamppost wreaths and banners to the public art such as the “Ponies on Parade” you will find Lynnea’s thumb print. Even some of her art work made it on Banners hung along Northwest Highway.
Busy as she is, Lynnea still allows time to; mentor other artists, volunteer at Lutheran Church of the Cross and serve homeless at a local PADS site. She is active at the Arlington Heights Senior Center and enjoys crafting and film/book discussions.
• Cordelia Skuldt — Pam Stocking Heart of Gold. At a young age, Cordelia Skuldt has already made a positive impact on the South Middle School community and the community of Arlington Heights through her dedicated efforts in bringing awareness to Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). PH is a rare disease that Cordelia knows all too well since being diagnosed with it at the age of 4. PH is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs and the right side of your heart.
With her energetic spirit and determination she has the power to effect change. Two years ago Cordelia was involved in raising awareness and funds for PH research as part of the annual Crosstown Classic Showdown between Thomas and South Middle Schools. In the role of spokesperson and ambassador for the event, Cordelia created a “Blue Lip Kiss Challenge” social media campaign to spread awareness about PH. The event raised over $11,000, and the popularity of her social media campaign generated attention from area television networks and newspapers which helped spread the word about PH.
Health limitations do not limit Cordelia’s willingness to participate in school activities or in the PH organization. She is involved every year for the Walk for PH held in Busse Woods and she is a teen representative on the Advisory Board of Lurie Children’s Hospital. In school, Cordelia is an active member in “Make a Difference Cardinals,” a school club that takes on service projects, as well as “Fearless Leaders” which she was voted to be a part of by her peers.
Cordelia, age 13, demonstrates for everyone what can be accomplished in life despite challenges we face. She has a true Heart of Gold and we are proud to name her the recipient of the Pam Stocking Heart of Gold award.
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The Village of Arlington Heights Special Events Commission created the awards program.
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