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Celebrating the selfless efforts of individuals who live or work in Will & Grundy Counties, making our communities great Sept. 10, 2017 A publication of

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here are people out in our communities doing good deeds. I know some. You know some. We all see them as we go about our days. But we rarely find the time to thank them or give them the attention they deserve for their tireless work to make our communities better. That’s why we started Everyday Heroes and why the selection process each year is so difficult. For helping us narrow down the long list of candidates, we want to thank J.D. Ross again for the week he put in helping us select the

And, for those of you out VIEWS there doing good deeds and Jon contributing in your comStyf munity, thank you for those efforts. very best from our commuWhile you might not be nities. Later in this section, part of this list, your conLarry Wiers, who joined us as tributions matter. It’s what this year’s keynote speaker, helps to explain the definition gives us a sense of community and what helps keep us of an everyday hero. We also want to thank you, moving forward in a positive the readers, for the work you way. put into nominating so many • The Herald-News Editor deserving candidates. Those Jon Styf can be reached at who were chosen and those jstyf@shawmedia.com, on who are not on the list this Twitter @JonStyf or at 815year. Your contributions to that 280-4119. Styf also is editor of list are what helps this honor the Morris Herald-News and continue to be so meaningful. Herald Life.

Brenda Brewer ........................ 4 Sue Bustin ............................... 5 Kathy Carey ............................. 6 Paula Ekstrom ......................... 8 Vanessa Flores ....................... 9 Janelle Gray ........................... 10 Hunter Hasenjaeger .............. 11 Ryan Jandura ......................... 12 Gerry Loucks ......................... 13 Nick Macris ........................... 14 Miryam Perez ........................ 15 Dick Sefton ............................ 16 Heidi Serena .......................... 17 John Sheridan ....................... 18 Al Skwarczynski ................... 19 Jim Smith .............................. 20

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

Celebrating the 2017 Everyday Heroes

THE HEROES INSIDE


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BRENDA BREWER By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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renda Brewer of Joliet was born and raised in Maine, but after graduation from high school in 1964, she came to visit family in Joliet and never left. Thirteen years ago, Brewer became a volunteer with the Joliet Area Community Hospice after she retired. She attributes her draw to volunteer to an accident she had in 1974. “At 27 years old, I was in a horrific accident and was in the hospital for one year. I look back on that time and I had a lot of time for soul searching. A lot of talking to the Lord because I was not sure what he had planned for my life they changed in a blink of an eye,” Brewer said. After she was out of the hospital, Brewer said she could not go back to work as a cosmetologist and became a big sister with Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Joliet. She then worked at an optometrist office and came across a “Herald-News” article about hospice in 1993. The volunteer classes were on Saturdays and she worked on Saturdays, but she vowed to herself that when she retired, she would follow that calling. In 2005, Brewer became a volunteer for hospice and has become an integral part of the system. “She has a vivacious personality which draws families and patients in. She is caring and lets the families know she is in their corner. She has a great work ethic and a passion for this mission. She is committed heart and soul,” Denise Payton, Joliet Area Community Hospice Volunteer Manager said. Brewer dons many hats at hospice. She works at the front desk as a greeter, trains volunteers and also sits by beds of those actively dying without family or friends. Payton said Brewer works the most difficult shifts to fill, Saturday and Sunday nights as a greeter, which she said the title oversimplifies the role. “We have a 16-bed unit and

most families that come through here are a wreck. This may be the first time they are in hospice or the patient has died and they have to come in. She has to know how to handle grieving or angry family members,” Payton said. Payton also said in the fall of 2016, the volunteer manager position was open and Brewer stepped in to manage the 250 hospice volunteers and even took her work home with her until Payton was hired. After she was hired, Brewer showed her the ropes and assisted on any questions or concerns. Perhaps one of the most vital parts of her service to those in hospice is the vigil care. Whether at the hospice building, hospital or nursing home, when Brewer gets a call that someone has a short time to live, she goes to the bedside to be there when friends or family cannot. One woman in particular touched her heart one year ago. To this day, she tears up when she thinks of the moment. Brewer walked into a room of a 102-year-old woman, pulled up a chair and held her hand. She said the lady did not move, her eyes were closed and she had shallow breathing. “I talked to her and pulled up a Bible with her name on it. She had scriptures in her book that must have been her favorite, so I read those passages for over an hour,” Brewer recalled. She saw an Elvis Presley spiritual tape and placed it in a radio. She shut the door to the room and blasted the music as loud as she could. A nurse poked in and said to turn it down, but Brewer said she wanted this woman’s last moments to be great. A couple of nurses came in and sat in the empty bed next to the patient. “This woman, who hadn’t moved for over three hours, opened her eyes, pulled her arms up like it was to the Lord and brought them down. The nurses had never seen anything like it before. I left shortly after, and got a call that 15 minutes after I left. She had passed,” Brewer said. “I get goosebumps. It’s so real, that what this is all about.”

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


SUE BUSTIN

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EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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ue Bustin works her day job as a medical case worker for the Joliet Township, but with a strong military background in her family, she uses her personal time to do everything she can to support and show thanks to those who have served our country. She can even remember a time when her grandfather, who fought in World War I, took her to a cemetery in Pennsylvania and that one event created her understanding of why we support the veterans. As he placed flags on the graves of all of the veterans, Bustin said she asked her grandfather to leave because the cemetery scared her. She recalled his response, “Susie, don’t say that, these are veterans who fought for our freedom and were pillars of the community.” “I can still feel the tears, now I understand,” Bustin said. Bustin works with the American Legion Post 1080 Ladies Auxiliary who go into the Illinois Veterans Home in Manteno to serve the veterans pie and ice cream as well as give them packages of socks, deodorant and other gifts. She said people give her things to give to veterans, so she collects them all in her garage and when the group goes, six times per year, they have items to pass along to the veterans. “It’s a fun social event, its neat to see them all in a big area. We shake their hands and say thank you, and they always say, ‘no, thank you.’ Many say they have never been thanked for their service before,” Bustin said. The group also creates baskets of necessities for homeless veterans to receive as soon as they receive placement at Hope Manor or other housing in Joliet. Bustin said they work with Kristi McNichol, Superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Will County, to find out the needs of the veterans, then the ladies auxiliary puts them together and delivers to the VAC to be disbursed. “She is our go to person when we need something because she goes above and beyond. She has enabled our office to hand out the homeless baskets when veterans get moved into housing so the essentials are taken care of and they can take care of their other needs,” McNichol said. Laundry baskets filled with laundry soap, cleaning supplies, towels,

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com

wash cloths, toilet paper and towels, dish soap and so on go to each veteran as a thank you and welcome home. “I want to help somebody who sacrificed themselves and now they are homeless or bouncing around from home to home. There is nothing like opening up a gift, it’s like going to school on the first day and already having the essentials,” Bustin said. This summer, Bustin responded to a plea for pillows for the 17 veterans placed at Hope Manor. She did not want to take this to the ladies auxiliary, so she went to Sam’s Club in Joliet and spent her own money to buy new and clean pillows for each veteran

placed. “These veterans need a pillow to lay their head on. A bed is comfortable, but it’s much more comfortable with a new pillow,” Bustin said. Bustin does not stop there. During the holidays, Bustin goes to Operation Care Package, which sends care packages to men and women who are deployed overseas. She picks up items to take home to wrap, so the soldiers who receive the packages have presents to unwrap at Christmas. She said she sits at home, wraps and writes cards to the soldiers who serve overseas. Bustin can also be found at Abra-

ham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood as she places flags on graves of veterans on Memorial Day, works with Wreaths Across America in December, volunteers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and writes five to seven letters a week to give to veterans who take the Honor Flight. She was a part of the group who raised $110,000 to place a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the cemetery so adults could teach their children about history and the sacrifices of our country. “To honor a veteran is a wonderful feeling. I feel like I get more back than what I give,” Bustin said.


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KATHY CAREY By ALLISON SELK

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Shaw Media correspondent

n early August of this year, Kathy Carey of Morris arranged all of her donated furniture, clothes, house wares and more on her lawn, driveway and sidewalk for her annual garage sale. As shoppers bought items, especially her big furniture items, she wondered if she would top her average earnings of $1,300 in her three day sale. On Aug. 5, when the sale was over, Carey said she raised $2,300 in her garage sale which benefits March of Dimes. Carey has taken the spot of the number two top donor for March of Dimes in Grundy County. “That doesn’t surprise me,” Greg Carrell, Director for March of Dimes Northeast Illinois Division. “In my personal opinion, if I had a whole lot of Kathy Careys, I wouldn’t have a lot to do as a fundraiser,” Carrell said. This was not a whimsical act of kindness by Carey. She has dedicated her time to March of Dimes, and has done so since her feet hit the pavement in her first walk during the 1980’s. She continued to walk for a few years, until back pain prevented her from the task. She chose to keep her stride, but in a different way. In 2007, she chose to host a garage sale at her home and then give the money directly to the March of Dimes. Over the years, her garage sale grew from a few items displayed on 10 tables and now residents drop off donations for her to sell which filled 31 tables in 2017, which has taken over the yard in front of her home in Morris. “I put an ad in the paper to let people know that I am taking donations for the annual March of Dimes sale. It’s amazing what people donate. If I did not have these donations, I couldn’t do this sale,” Carey said. In 2016, on top of the garage sale, Carey opened up her backyard rum shack for photo opportunities for a $1 donation to March of Dimes. “People came over a lot. We didn’t serve alcohol, just took pictures, some of complete

strangers. Instead of the $1 bill, people put in $50 or $20 bills; we made $300 in one day, just with the rum shack pictures alone,” Carey’s partner Randy Bell said. Also in 2007, Carey decided that a cookbook would be a great way to raise money for March of Dimes. She solicited recipes from family and friends who turned them in on index cards, and Carey wrote all of her recipes on index cards as well because she simply did not own a computer at the time. She turned in 1,100 recipes to create the 1,100 cookbooks titled, “Share Recipes and Dimes” and sold all but 200 which she still sells to the public. “This is my calling. I think God looked at me and said, ‘this is what I want you to do,’ so I ran with it,” Carey said. Carey did not stop there-she wanted to push the envelope a little further and wrote a letter to famous restaurant owner and TV personality Paula Deen to see if she would sign one of the cookbooks to be auctioned off at a March of Dimes event in Joliet. And if that was not enough, she went to a book signing of chef and Food Network personality Mario Batali and asked him to sign a book. “I know I had to buy one of his cookbooks, which was fine, but when I asked his representative to sign my book, too, he said he didn’t think Mario would sign it, but he overheard us and said, of course I’ll sign her cookbook,” Carey recalled. Carrell said Carey’s fundraising creates opportunities for more research to reduce premature birth, which usually creates birth defects, which was the mission of the March of Dimes. He said 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely and Carey’s efforts help support March of Dimes to make a difference in that outcome. Bell said he has been with Carey for 20 years and has never heard her speak an ill word about anyone. He said these acts reflect her personality. “She is all about giving and enhancing everybody else’s lives. She never complains, it’s never about her, it’s all about giving all of the time,” Bell said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


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PAULA EKSTROM By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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aula Ekstrom of Wilmington has been described by her friends as a volunteer guru, someone they can either consult when action needs taken in the community, or to seek guidance for volunteer opportunities. “When someone gives selflessly of themselves to someone else, that’s a hero to me. She’s not going to get a paycheck or recognition. I always tell her that she’s my volunteer guru hero,” friend Wendy Hill said of Ekstrom. Ekstrom involves herself in many organizations in Wilmington such as the Wilmington Lion’s Club, the Kankakee American Legion, various sports teams and parent teacher organizations, but her self proclaimed claim to fame, what has her heart is the Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community. “This is my baby,” Ekstrom said. Twelve years ago, there were several thefts in the Wilmington community and so she attended a meeting with the Education Service Network (ESN). There was talk of how the community could benefit from a coalition and Ekstrom said she signed a paper which claimed her intent on bringing a coalition to Wilmington. “I signed it. I had kids in school, and I’m a recovering addict for 30 years and I had a daughter and I was scared for her and her friends,” Ekstrom said. The biggest hurdle Ekstrom faced was to find government funding for programs at the coalition. She said she had to prove that all of the programs were toward prevention of possible issues such as underage tobacco and drug use. She wanted to bring counseling to the area because the nearest place children could receive counseling was a 30 minute drive and if the children could not make it that far due to no transportation or no gas money to get there, they would be lost. “With divorce and unemploy-

ment rates so high in our area, if services are 30 minutes out, these kids can easily climb into addiction or other unhealthy habits. My job for the grant to bring counseling to Wilmington was to prove that this was going to be used for prevention,” Ekstrom said. Ekstrom was successful in her endeavors and now the coalition offers counseling along with other preventative groups for teens in the Wilmington area. A community center for children to have a place to hang out has been listed on her next to-do list. Another proud moment for Ekstrom was in 2016, when the coalition helped fund a new K-9 unit for Will County. The former dog had retired, and she felt like it needed to be replaced. She went to the city council for its blessing to host a fundraiser and hired the Harlem Ambassadors to come and play a basketball tournament with community members. She said she had nightmares about the event’s failure, not knowing if the community would support the cause or not. “We had a bunch of people there and I was like, ‘yes our community is here and believes in the same things we do.’ So many times I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall to get support. But these people got it, which was a reminder that we are making a difference and there are people out there to fight with us too,” Ekstrom said. The states attorney saw how hard the group worked and kicked in funds as well as community members. Almost a year to the date of the fundraiser Officer Mao was on the road to service. Anita Young, who first met Ekstrom at the ESN meeting years ago said when Ekstrom puts her mind to something, she follows through. “We were at a party in the park event and the National Guard had a climbing wall. She did not think she could do it. She made it all of the way to the top, it was symbolic really because when she goes after something, she gets it done,” Young said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


VANESSA FLORES

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

we have real problems here,” Flores said. Her mother, Olga, said this experience changed her anessa Flores of Joliet then 15-year-old daughter and has the middle name confirmed what direction her of Amor which means life would take. love in the Spanish “She came back realizing language. As she grows up, this middle name her parents that not everything is the gave her seems to fit her well, way she saw it at first. She appreciated that she has a her mother Olga said. home, and discipline and Flores, a 2017 Joliet Cenwhat drugs can do to you. tral High School graduate, I am happy she did it, but now attends Southeastern sad about the conditions she University in Lakeland, FL witnessed. It also made her where she plans to obtain more determined to have a a major in child and family ministries. She said her faith career in children and family services,” Olga said. in God and the desire to help Another favorite service others led her to this deciFlores gave to in her time sion, as well as her commuin Joliet was her leadership nity service in her younger years which gave her a grasp with the Student Life Ministry and Kid’s First Ministry on what needs are in the at her church, Joliet First world. Assembly. Flores said when she was Sunday mornings she 15 years old, she traveled with would sing and dance with a group from her church, the younger children at Joliet First Assembly, to Los Angeles to work with a minis- church, as well as talk about Jesus, and Sunday nights, try called the Dream Center. she would pour herself into The group worked for 10 the teens-where she even days with the Adopt-a-Block increased the population program. The group went into desig- of teens who attended each week. nated neighborhoods to find “I honestly have a passion what needs needed to be filled for children and youth, this is and executed a plan. Flores natural to me. I want to reach said they dropped off grocerout and impact my communiies, mowed lawns, delivered ty,” Flores said. goods and so on. She said she gives because “Each morning and night the benefits outweigh the we invested ourselves in a bad and she wants to leave a different area,” Flores said. legacy from her generation to According to the Dream the next. Center, more than 135 blocks “There is a lot of bad going have been adopted and as on in our generation, we need many as 500 volunteers go to build a new generation and door-to-door each Saturday, be an impact on what hapexcept on holidays, and pens after we are gone. I saw offer to clean, mow lawns what happened after I gave or whatever is needed most. my time, I saw the bigger picThe groups, according to the Dream Center, also distribute ture and how it collided with my life,” Flores said. food, hygiene items, diapers Olga described her daughand other needs. Since the outreach began in 2000, 30,000 ter as funny, and determined, but the number one descriplives have been touched by tor was her faith in God. the outreach. “If there is one thing that Flores said she hopes her act will inspire others to look anyone knows about Vanessa, it’s that she loves God and she around their towns, cities or is a giving person. She is decountry and find a need and termined to do certain things fill it. and she will do it. Her will is “People don’t have to go extremely strong,” Olga said. overseas to do mission work,

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By ALLISON SELK

Shaw Media correspondent

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Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


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JANELLE GRAY By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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ary Lee Howard said her daughter, Janelle Gray, has a sixth sense about how to help people around her who were in need. “She gives herself selflessly and thinks nothing of jumping in to help others. If she sees anybody in trouble, she will ask what she can do to help. I did a lot for my kids, but I get tired thinking about all she does,” Howard said. Gray, of Plainfield, teaches English as a Second Language at Meadow View Elementary School as a profession, but outside of the classroom, she donates her time to Girl Scouts, her neighbors, friends and mission trips to Haiti with New Life for Haiti. For seven years, Gray has been a leader in her daughters’ scout troops so they could have the experience. She said if she did not step up to teach both troops, the program would have ended for that area, but she saw the benefit. “This program gives girls life and leadership skills as well as teaches them about community service. I love seeing the girls have fun, learn new things and when they get older, branch out into leadership roles,” Gray said. Gray also takes the role of neighbor seriously as she fills needs with the children when she sees fit. She has given rides to scouts and school to single parent homes, donates clothes to children in need and was an advocate for these families to receive backpacks at school for food on the weekends to make sure the children had food to eat when they weren’t in school. Howard said her daughter had a neighbor who was going to have a slim Christmas for their kids and enlisted her help to create baby doll bassinets out of laundry baskets for the dolls Gray donated so the neighbor girls had things to open on Christmas day. The major deed that stuck in Howard’s mind was when her daughter created a special moment for a friend whose husband had terminal cancer. “I called

her one day and she told me she couldn’t talk right now because she was busy. A few days later I found out what she had done,” Howard said. Gray’s scout co-leader had three children and was pregnant with her fourth when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Around Christmas, she wanted to do something for her friend and husband, so she tried to win a contest on the radio, but was too late to enter. She said she took matters in her own hands, and when she found out that the husband could no longer wear his wedding ring because of drastic weight loss, and the wife lost her ring years prior and couldn’t afford to replace, she knew what to do. “The church donated as well as teachers at my school. Somebody at my school had a diamond ring they did not have a use for, so I took the ring and with the money we raised, made it better for her. I took the husband’s ring and had a sizer put on it,” Gray said. “I gave him the rings and Santa Claus came to the hospital and gave her the rings.” That’s not all-Gray used her expertise as a teacher to teach Haitian teachers new techniques in teaching. Marnie VanWyk, former teacher and employee at New Life for Haiti said Gray was on the team who helped design the curriculum for the schools built in Haiti by the organization, and in seminars given to teachers within the organizations as well as other teachers, they teach more current, up to date methods in order to make the education the Haitian children receive more relevant and modern. “Janelle is a problem solver and a hearty person and in Haiti, you have to like camping even if you are not camping because it challenges us with our creature comforts,” VanWyk said. Gray said she wants to help, but she also wants to leave an impression on her young daughters. “I enjoy helping other people and I want my kids to know that it’s the right thing to do. If everybody did something nice for somebody else, our world would be a better place,” Gray said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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unter Hasenjaeger of Channahon can be found around home much more these days, his mother Theres Hasenjaeger said of her 17-year-old son. “He stays home a lot now, he doesn’t go out a lot, I think this whole situation scared him a little bit,” Theres said of the Minooka Community High School student. Hunter said he has been awoken to the fact that life can change in an instant, and people never know when their last moments are upon them. On June 30, Hunter and his friend, Collin Barry, who also attends MCHS, drove home from a friend’s house around midnight. As the two crested a hill on Ridge Road, just north of Minooka, Hunter said he could see smoke and decided to pull over to see what happened. “We knew we should pull over,” Hunter said. “When we got out of the car, a woman and man screamed that they could hear a baby screaming from the car.” Hunter was one of a few people on that road that night, who came across a horrific accident in which a young pregnant mother had been hit head on, her 1-year-old daughter in the back seat restrained in a car seat and the mother injured badly. Hunter and Barry quickly took to action while the other couple called 911. Hunter took a flashlight from his phone to shine into the backseat of the car where the cries originated and Barry took the child out of the seat and placed her in his arms to comfort. “Her crying stopped once we had her out of the car, she was calm. I stood by the mother and told her that her kid was okay. The

most important part for me was that she knew her baby was still alive,” Hunter said. The young mother and unborn child succumbed to their injuries and the baby was released to the mother’s family. Hunter said he got out of the car that night to help out of impulse. “It was impulsive; we knew we needed to help, so it kind of just happened. We just did it. I always want to help whoever, no matter what,” Hunter said. His mother Theres would agree. “I couldn’t believe he did that, his adrenaline was so high, that’s how he did what he did, but I’m not surprised, he’s a good kid who always wants to help people,” Theres said. “One day he stopped an elderly woman around the corner and said if she needed any help to call him and gave her his phone number. He feels things deeply.” The situation took a toll on Hunter as he came home and cried to his mom because he felt so bad that he couldn’t help the mom. Theres said her son felt responsible for not being able to help her, even though he was not the one who caused the accident and was scared for the baby’s future. “He was scared she [the baby] didn’t have anyone. I told him that we would find her and if she didn’t have anyone, we would find a way to adopt the baby,” Theres said. They found the family and Hunter took her a teddy bear, food and a case of water to the baby’s grandparents. He also attended the wake for the mother in Chicago. “We hope to keep in connection because Hunter has a connection with that baby. When she’s older she will have questions and the only ones who can answer those questions are Hunter and Collin,” Theres said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

HUNTER HASENJAEGER

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RYAN JANDURA By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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n the 1990’s the Village of Channahon had a flood, and teenager Ryan Jandura felt the call to help and always looked up to those who were in public service such as police and fire. So, it was no surprise when in 1999, after a friend of his dad gave him an application for Ryan to join the Channahon Fire Department, he filled it out and became a volunteer firefighter. In 2005, Ryan went full time as a paid firefighter for the Channahon Fire Protection District and dedicated his life to the service of others. His wife Kelli Jandura said her husband has a soft spot for others, especially single moms and has helped moms when they have struggled to make ends meet. “I think it has to do with the role of a public servant at work. At home he’s the father and makes sure we are okay. One time he helped a single mom when the dad wasn’t pitching in to help. He can’t imagine how it would be to be single and not getting any help,” Kelli said. The mom Kelli speaks of was a complete stranger who posted on social media that she had a handicapped son and needed help. Ryan said he called the woman several times to realize her needs with the conclusion that she was in a bad spot and needed help to get back on her feet. “Through the generosity of family and friends we got her some monetary help, financial assistance and rent help through a foundation and childcare for her son,” Ryan said. “We still talk to this day; I was meant to be brought together with her.” Ryan has another passion to help those affected by natural disaster. He and

former colleague Sean Ragusa have made numerous trips around the country as well as close to home to provide supplies to first responders and victims of tornadoes. He has made two trips to Alabama, one trip to Oklahoma and trips to Coal City, all after disaster struck communities. In Alabama, Ryan made contact with local fire departments and brought surplus supplies from the Channahon Fire Protection District to the volunteer fire departments, as well as household items, clothing, cleaning supplies, and gift cards for the victims. When he went to Oklahoma, he was gifted the use of a trailer which he stuffed with donations of feminine products, iced tea, water, clothing and household goods. He networked with other groups to dispense items needed by victims. When tornadoes hit Coal City, he rushed to aid there as well because, “I don’t want to sit by and be idle, I want to help. ”It’s heartbreaking in our line of work, we see devastation locally, and see a magnitude of tornadoes. I hope to help local fire and police departments because they are the first ones to respond and then I think of all of the people,” Ryan said. “I feel in fire service networking is easy because we can call the local fire departments and see what is needed.” Kelli as well as Ryan’s aunt Mary Ann Jandura believe Ryan qualifies as an everyday hero because “he is married and has three young children, but goes above and beyond to help others,” Mary Ann said. “He’s a hero because to us he’s the father who takes care of everybody. He helps everyone, besides his job. He comes home and will be talking about the next person he is going to help,” Kelli said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


GERRY LOUCKS

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

above anything. She always comes in and serves in what capacity is needed,” Pierce said. Loucks said she could not he can be found pouring pick a favorite ministry, but hot coffee on Sunday food pantry will always have mornings, teaching a special place in her heart first-grade kids about because that was what got her Jesus on a Wednesday night, scraping wallpaper off of a wall started in her involvement at at a pregnancy center on a Sat- Minooka Bible Church. “I love it all,” she said. urday morning or passing out She said after her Echo food to local residents twice a Midweek ended for the school month at a food pantry. year in May, the first grade Gerry Loucks of Plainfield has become a volunteer leader children asked her over and over if she would move up at her home church, Minooka with them to the second grade Bible Church. When she and class. “Kids are funny,” she her husband Al came to Minooka Bible Church, she began said. Loucks said she feels like working right away with the the Lord should be in the spotfood pantry. That was seven light because He gave her the years ago. want to volunteer. At that time, Loucks “As a pastor, I love seeing worked, but shortly after retired and found herself with folks following Christ’s call to love God and love others. time on her hands. She chose Gerry is on the varsity track of to channel that energy into her church ministries, and not this command. We see her at Minooka Bible Church nearly only food pantry. She now helps with the cof- as much as any paid staff member, and just as passionate,” fee café most every weekend; Minooka Bible Church Lead helps with Echo Midweek, a ministry to children in kinder- Pastor Arol McFadden said. This past summer, Loucks garten through fourth grade; Endeavor Team local missions was on the art team for Spy group which performs six local Kidz Bible Camp. The main craft was to make wind chimes missions per year; Spy Kidz out of bamboo which had to be vacation Bible camp; Mothers of Preschoolers and a marriage cut and threaded with fishing wire, and Loucks took the ministry called Re-Engage. “I feel like I’m very blessed. prep work home with her for I have the time and the church several nights. “When there was a need to needed help. I feel like I can finish prepping crafts for our give back to the church and summer day camp, she nearly the Lord for blessing me so pulled an all nighter to make much,” Loucks said. sure the kids would have their Endeavor Team member art projects ready. That’s just Juanita Pierce said Loucks who she is,” McFadden said. makes an everyday hero Pierce and McFadden agree because, “she is awesome that Loucks shows a great exand selfless. She is the most ample of a volunteer and a role hardworking person I have model of a Christian. ever met and she literally “Gerry isn’t merely a volunteers for everything,” phenomenal volunteer, she Pierce said. “She serves with a breeds volunteerism. There’s humble heart.” a verse in the New Testament Pierce said, whenever the that charges followers of Endeavor Team has regisJesus to view all of our efforts tration for a mission event, as done not merely for people, Loucks was always the first but ultimately for God. Gerry one to sign up-and then she is living this out in full color. was the first one to arrive and She maximizes her impact to the last one to leave. those in our community as an “She promotes all things offering to God,” McFadden our church promotes. There is said. no job too small and she is not

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By ALLISON SELK

Shaw Media correspondent

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Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

| EVERYDAY HEROES

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NICK MACRIS

ventures Macris has taken on recently. He was added to the board of directors at the Joliet Area Historical Museum. He said he was a ick Macris attributed his member of the old Joliet Historical time to volunteer and give Society and wants to extend his back to the community in love of Joliet to bring others into which he was born and the museum to learn about the raised to his lack of love of the city’s unique history. game of golf. “Maybe that’s why I “I’m proud of the museum and have time,” he said. how it portrays our city,” Macris Most of his adult life he comsaid. muted for work outside of the city He has also taken on the role of of Joliet and now he devotes his cart caddy at Silver Cross Hostime to many organizations in order to show off his city. He worked pital. On Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, Macris takes those who park for ComEd for 22 years and was in the remote parking areas up to in the United States Army for 20 one of the multiple entrances of years and retired as a Lt. Colonel. Now, Macris can be found at the the hospital and on occasion helps out a lost driver. Joliet Kiwanis Club, the Greater “One day, I found a poor lady Joliet Area YMCA, Silver Cross Hospital, the Joliet Area Historical who couldn’t find her car walking Museum or on a tour of Joliet with the lot. She got in the cart and we drove around until we found it,” a new resident. Macris said. “I feel like I have a lot to conHe also was on the men’s choir, tribute, so as long as I feel I can parish council, and had a hand contribute, I would like to do so,” in the building renovations of his Macris said. lifelong church, All Saints Greek Macris sits on the board of Orthodox Church in Joliet, which directors at the YMCA and has was the last building built with been involved in the annual Joliet Limestone in 1943. camps, Giving Gala committee, Wiers said with all of the board governance committee, donor recognition committee, and involvement in the community, a new committee called the master his friend makes time for coffee or lunch in one of their favorite spots. plan committee to evaluate future When Wiers asks Macris where he facilities. wants to go, he asks which office, Friend and fellow volunteer not which restaurant. Larry Wiers said Macris took his “By the time our meal is over, job at the YMCA seriously and either we have 10 people sitting even took board members and with us or 10 people stop by and business men and women on a say hi or thank you to Nick. He “grand tour of Joliet.” makes so many connections at The first tour Macris gave was these places, it’s like his office,” to a woman who worked in Joliet, Wiers said. but lived north in Oak Park. She Wiers understands the asset said she saw a big home and asked if that was a mansion, then replied Macris has become to the city of Joliet. if he wanted to see mansions he “He is willing to serve and should go with her to Oak Park. “I took that as a challenge and I improve the quality of life to our community. He is a selfless, unconthink I changed her perspective,” ditional giver. He is also a promotMacris said. “I am proud of my er, not a nay sayer, a promoter. city because there is a lot to be proud of, people just need to be re- He promotes our community in everything he does, he inspires me minded of the good stuff,” Macris to do more,” Wiers said. said. Macris said he learned about Macris also takes pride in community service from his his involvement with Joliet Will parents. He said his mother sat County Project Pride, which now on the board of directors at Silver goes by Project Acclaim, which Cross Hospital and his father Macris said has a sole mission to found time to be involved in their highlight projects around Joliet. family church, was a naval officer “This was right up my alley,” he and volunteer with the Red Cross said. along with a full-time job. There were a couple of new

By ALLISON SELK

Shaw Media correspondent

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Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


MIRYAM PEREZ U

niversity of St. Francis freshman and Joliet Central High School graduate Miryam Perez said her childhood on the east side of Joliet has molded her into a community activist as well as shaped her career goals. This biology major wants to have a career as a general physician and has high hopes to work alongside other physicians at free clinics in Joliet, or open her own one day, wherever life takes her. “I believe everyone deserves to have health coverage and check ups,” Perez said. Perez did not just wake up one day and decide she wanted to live a career of service to the community in which she lives. She took advantage of many clubs in high school such as Fearless Females Z Club, French Club, Keyfriends of Rachel and was on student council all four years, serving as president her senior year. “She was one of the smartest students I have ever worked with, she is so politically engaged, and understands happenings in the world. She makes important connections and does something about it,” Fearless Females Z Club sponsor Ashley Samsa said. Perez said she joined and was on the Fearless Females Z Club for three out of the four years of high school. She felt like this was a great match for her because the group wanted to empower women. “This was all about being encouraging and offering a safe place for women to talk about issues. We were sponsored by the Zonta Club which helped us network and grow as a club so we could offer more service projects,” Perez said. With this club, Perez assisted in the annual Will County Take Back the Night Rally which offered information about domestic abuse as well as services for those who have been abused in Will County. During the rally, volunteers walk up an aisle and stand alongside others to represent those killed by domestic violence in Will County. Perez said she volunteered at this

candlelight vigil to represent a victim. “This event is so empowering when you see all of the people together. Domestic violence is a big problem men and women face,” Perez said. Samsa said the group has several important focuses on local work such as Guardian Angel Home, Take Back the Night Rally, globally help girls in Afghanistan and also pack sexual assault kits for victims who come into the hospital. “This group is not only high school and community, but focuses globally, and Miryam was in charge of everything,” Samsa said. Another group dear to Perez’s heart was Keyfriends of Rachel which was a group who spread the idea to be kind. Inspired by a Columbine High School student named Rachel who was killed in the 1999 shooting massacre, this group goes out into the community to spread kindness. Perez spearheaded projects such as school messages on kindness, theme-day activities and outreach at local homeless shelters. “Once per month, we would bring cupcakes, games and food to the homeless shelters. We want those people to feel cared about and we want other people to be conscious of what is going on in our community. We wanted to start a chain reaction,” Perez said. “Miryam is wonderful and fantastic. She was one of those students who handled everything and when she was asked to do something, she always gave an ‘of course’ response,” Samsa said. Perez said she has support from her parents and brother, and her upbringing on the east side of Joliet gave her compassion because she saw underprivileged people every day. The clubs in high school spoke to her, she said. “I do the jobs that other people don’t want to do. I do it and don’t want to receive anything for it. I want to know I made a difference,” Perez said. “I hope I’m creating a better developed community, a safer community where people feel like family and more connected.”

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

| EVERYDAY HEROES

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DICK SEFTON By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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ore than 400 senior citizens in the Grundy County area make a trip to visit Dick Sefton of Morris each year to receive his guidance on their health insurance supplement plans. Sefton, 88 said he once saw an article that said “if you want to live to 100, volunteer” and he has dedicated his retirement to his fellow senior citizens. “When I worked, I worked. Once I retired, I wanted to give something back and I enjoy doing it,” Sefton said. Sefton worked for Illinois Bell Telephone Company and was a navigator in the United States Air Force, where he flew 67 missions over North Korea. Since 2005, Sefton has worked with the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) through Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers to guide seniors on which insurance plans to choose to supplement their Medicaid insurance. Sefton said he can save seniors anywhere from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars by going through different plans that suit the patient. “He goes above and beyond the normal expectations by going on house calls and he comes in on weekends, evenings and odd hours. He’s accessible for people,” said Karen Nowosielski, Manager of Volunteer Services, Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers. Nowosielski said this position took 600 hours of Sefton’s time last year, in addition to eight days he spent training to learn the year’s insurance laws, which change year to year. The SHIP program runs through the Illinois Department on Aging and Sefton has be to aware of the new insurance programs as well as patient plans.

“He and other counselors need to work with patients when they have changes in financial status, they have to navigate that information and explain plans which allow the patient to make an educated pick for a plan for them,” Nowosielski said. Grundy County alone has 44 supplement insurance plans and 23 drug plans Sefton has to be educated on, so he can help those in their senior years. Sefton was SHIP certified in 1994 and worked with other organizations before he landed at Morris Hospital. “I was going to retire and my wife said I can’t stay here full time,” Sefton joked. His desire to help those his age has kept him going. He knows that Medicare does not cover all of the expenses seniors can rack up in hospitals, doctor visits for medications and the rules and plans can be confusing. “Working with people is the fun part. As people reach 75 to 80 years old, they can get confused and can’t always figure out the best plan to buy. I can show them how they can switch plans and save money. Because, at times, they are in the absolutely wrong plan,” Sefton said. Beyond the hospital, Sefton keeps busy on many boards around town. He currently sits on the investment committee with the Grundy County Foundation, which invests money of other non-profit organizations. He volunteers as the secretary of the Grundy County Board of Health where he helps to build budgets, policies, and procedures. He can be found fundraising money for the hospital with the Morris Hospital Auxiliary. “I enjoy doing all of this. I am a widower and this allows me to get out and see people,” Sefton said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


HEIDI SERENA

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

paint,” Guenther recalled. “It was beyond gorgeous and the family and friends were grateful.” Serena quickly realized this eidi Serena had a dream of a non-profit where she and program was going to take off, other women in the Shore- and that these wishes had to be wood area could give back funded somehow, so once again, she used her creative mind and to the community in which they created the annual Chocolate raised their children. Shorewood Ball, which occurs each February H.U.G.S. was formed in 2008. in Joliet. Last year, they raised Through its Hugs and Wishes program, almost 600 wishes have $50,000 for the Wishes and Hugs been granted within a 20 miles ra- program. On top of the Shorewood dius of Shorewood. These wishes HUGS organization, Serena has are found from submissions by used her talents to give back in residents in the community who other facets. With an education know of someone in need, and have reached out to the organiza- background, she helped adults of all ages obtain their General tion to fulfill the wish. Wishes range from gas cards to Education Development (GED) get to doctor appointments, money degrees through a class through Joliet Junior College. toward a wig for cancer patients, “I loved that experience baby items for adoptive families, because it was awesome helping grocery cards, bikes, Christmas older adults have a chance to lights for a teacher with cancer change their lives,” Serena said. and so on. The gift fits the exact Currently, Serena holds the tineed of the recipients. Serena said one wish from sev- tle of manager and director of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore eral years ago sticks out in her in Joliet. Recently, Serena was a mind. Four years ago, she met a part of a move to a new building man at Joliet Oncology Hematology Associates and he came by to which was renovated almost solely by volunteers and most of the place a wish in a wish bowl she materials were donated by local had sitting out. He was 40 years businesses. old with a family and stage four She used her design gift and, lung cancer and had a desire to during the three-month renogo skydiving. She remembers vation, came up with ways to calling him to say his wish had incorporate design and local been granted, but never heard organizations. Romeoville High back. School created a pallet wall, the One year later, while the Lewis University art department group was at Relay for Life in painted a mural and Joliet CathJoliet, she said she saw him, olic Academy made a Lego wall fulfilled his wish and then he became an advocate for Shorewood for kids to play on while parents shopped. HUGS. “She helps people at ReStore “Everywhere we went, he was find affordable furniture that there and bought the signature supports Habitat for Humanity so bears we give out. I received a people could have homes,” friend call and was able to see him the and HUGS member Molly Babyak day before he passed away,” said. “Heidi is the most detail oriSerena said. ented person I’ve ever met, when Shorewood HUGS member she gets an idea, she is a force to Rita Guenther said Serena albe reckoned with. She is pretty ways goes above and beyond for amazing.” those who need a wish. She said Serena sees those she helps as Heidi has a flair for decoration heroes, not herself. and took that talent to overhaul “I’m not a hero. At HUGS all a room from a nursery to a room of the recipients are heroes, those for an active toddler. who go back to receive their GED “Heidi had a vision for a are heroes, and the volunteers at jungle room. The community Habitat for Humanity are heroes. support was the amazing part. She got the carpet store to donate Working with these people every carpet, paint was donated and the day inspires and blesses me,” Serena said. store even sent someone to help

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By ALLISON SELK

Shaw Media correspondent

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Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

| EVERYDAY HEROES

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JOHN SHERIDAN By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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n any given day, John Sheridan picks up garbage to beautify his neighborhood, or grabs his tools to fix a downed fence he noticed during his daily walks. During the snowy winter months, he blasts through the sidewalks and driveways with his snowblower to make sure his neighbors can get out of their homes safely. Sheridan loves his neighborhood and has a goal to keep it safe for the residents he has grown close to for more than six decades. He has taken it to the point where he has over 60 residents once a month attend his neighborhood watch meetings, which has even attracted the mayor of Joliet as well as other elected officials. “Growing up, everyone had a nosey little lady looking out of the window. We have all become that nosey little lady in our neighborhood, and we are proud of that. We know that the police can’t be everywhere all of the time,” Sheridan said. He said he also wants to empower the younger generations in the neighborhood to someday take over because, “I won’t always be here,” Sheridan said. “I want to be an advocate for them [neighbors] and teach them how to use the tools in front of them. I want to lead by example,” Sheridan said. Neighbor Beverly Kopman said she cannot say enough of Sheridan and his service to the neighborhood and her specifically. “I was burglarized in broad daylight when I was gone and the service door to the garage was open and you could see into the kitchen. Everything was a mess. I called the Joliet Police Department, my brother and John. John came over right away with 2x4 pieces of wood and screws and fixed

the door so I could have a sense of security,” Kopman said. Kopman said he has been an advocate at city council meetings when older people have passed and their houses were purchased by multiple families, which led to parking and other problems for example. “John needs to be recognized for all of the good he’s done in our neighborhood,” Kopman said. Sheridan does not stop with community service within his neighborhood streets; he also has worked with Cornerstone Services in Joliet for more than 30 years. Cornerstone Services advocates for those with disabilities in Joliet and Will County. Sheridan has a son who was born with Downs syndrome which catapulted his service to be a voice for those like his son, who need extra services. He has fought with the city to raise the handicapped parking fines in Joliet and when they city did not get the signs up quickly enough; he went to city council meetings to put pressure on the elected officials to finish what they had started. When it comes to the Celebrity Luncheon at Cornerstone Services, Sheridan has been known to create the raffle basket that brings in the most revenue. He begins to shop for his basket creations a year in advance of the November event and last year his basket raised $715 for Cornerstone Services. Sheridan said he likes to give back because he remembered how people helped his large family growing up. He also knows times have changed and the idea of community needs to be preserved. “We are living in a meme world today. If people just did one good deed per day and pay it forward they could make a change,” Sheridan said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


AL SKWARCZYNSKI W

hether it’s a 5K run, a youth sports game, local festival or school event, chances are high that Al Skwarczynski of Minooka will be in attendance. Between his involvement with schools, his family and his community, Skwarczynski keeps himself active and involved for the betterment of Minooka. Vietnam veteran and former principal Al Skwarczynski takes pride in his community of Minooka in which he and his wife Nancy have called home for over 27 years. Skwarczynski was raised in Bartlett, enlisted in the Army and served one year in Vietnam. He came home, attended Illinois State University and obtained a degree in education. He immediately began to teach at Washington Junior High in Joliet where he would take on positions such as student advisor, asst. principal, and principal. He spent time as principal at TE Culbertson Elementary School, and retired as principal from Taft Elementary School in 2005. The Joliet Grade School District even named the park adjacent to Taft Elementary School Alan Skwarczynski Park after his retirement. Skwarczynski said he always wanted to give back to his community and when he moved to Minooka, he joined the Minooka Lions Club first thing. “This gave me a chance to do something in town. The community is wonderful and you don’t get lost with so many people, which gave a lot of options to get involved,” Skwarczynski said. The Minooka Lions Club has two events in Minooka where Skwarczynski offers his talents. Annually, the Minooka Lions Club gives out Scholastic Awards at Minooka Community High School for the top 25 graduating seniors. Skwarczynski said he honors these students and encourages them to give back to the communities in which they settle. During Minooka Summerfest in June, Skwarczynski gets up bright and early on the Saturday of Summerfest and first checks out the 5K, then gets in position

to carry the flag in the parade, usually with his friend Jay Richie of Minooka. The pair met as members of the American Legion and Richie said Skwarczynski was one of the legion’s most active members. “We are flag bearers for the parades in town and that gives us a time to both be patriotic and bond to each other,” Richie said of his time with Skwarczynski. Skwarczynski has been a member of the Minooka American Legion for 16 years and one act of patriotism and community service with the legion stands out for Richie. The two, along with other legion members spend a few days before each Memorial Day to place flags on the graves of veterans in five cemeteries in the Channahon and Minooka areas. The group, headed by Skwarczynski walks up and down each row of headstones to read each grave to not miss a single veteran if possible. After this service, the cemeteries glisten with the waving red, white and blue flags. Richie said they also work with the local Boy Scouts to place flags on each driveway along the Memorial Day parade route. “Al is an outstanding citizen. He is an all around everyday hero because he helps everybody no matter what he is doing, if he can help, he jumps in,” Richie said. Due to his role in education, Skwarczynski wanted to offer his knowledge and services to Minooka schools, and has sat on the Minooka Community Consolidated School District 201 board of education for seven years. “Al is familiar with school functions, how the system works and is an asset to the board with that knowledge. He listens and participates,” board president Jim Satorius said. “He is well rounded and dedicated to his community.” Skwarczynski said it was important for him to serve Minooka because service creates a stronger community. “People have so much ability and sometimes they need a little nudge. Once they start, they say, hey this is okay. Instead of complaining, people need to influence and change or understand,” Skwarczynski said. “Community is important and family is important.”

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

| EVERYDAY HEROES

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JIM SMITH By ALLISON SELK Shaw Media correspondent

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here was no doubt that Jim Smith of Morris, or as his friends call him, Smitty, has a great love and appreciation for the great outdoors. As an avid hunter and fisherman, he decided to take that love and along with others form an organization that would get kids off of the couch and into nature. One year ago, Smith and six other board members began an outdoor program for children called T.E.A.C.H. Outdoors. The name stands for tradition, education, adventure, conservation and habitat. The non-profit organization hosts eight to 10 free events each year which consist of fishing derbies, camp outs, hunter safety and ethics classes, wood duck conservation, habitat projects, nature walks and duck calling. Smitty never wants a child to be restricted to the outdoors due to lack of equipment or knowledge, so upon arrival at one of the events, if a child does not have the necessary equipment, he gives them what they need and allows them to take it home for free. He said he hopes this will allow the child and entire family to grow a love for nature and take the time to explore and create life long memories as a family. “When I was a kid and stuff was given to me, it meant something and created a personal connection. I understand in today’s economy it can be tough to buy equipment, but because of our generous sponsors and donors, the kids can borrow a pole and take it home. It’s all about tradition, that’s the number one letter in T.E.A.C.H.. We want to pass it along,” Smitty said. He also provides a hot

lunch for the families, to ensure they do not go home hungry, a big concern on Smitty’s mind. Amanda Ringness, T.E.A.C.H. scholarship and educator coordinator said Smitty also wants to stress the need for conservation. The wood duck project was the biggest conservation education piece with the program. The children make the boxes for wood ducks and then learn about the ducks-then put them out onto the water to create habitats. “When he teaches the kids about the wood ducks and makes the boxes he has the kids enchanted. They are learning things they didn’t know they were missing out on,” Kim Smith said of her husband Smitty. Smitty said this organization was 100 percent run with volunteers and fundraisers and donors were the reason he could offer this program to the community. He said on top of his full-time job, this has been another full-time job between emails and phone calls he fields on a daily basis. “He embraces T.E.A.C.H. and is a great role model. He will give anyone the shirt off of his back and help anybody in a second. He has a positive attitude and shows pride in everything T.E.A.C.H. is doing,” Ringness said. During the interviews, it was made known that Smitty had received a monetary bonus at work and used it toward T.E.A.C.H. instead of something for himself. When asked, he shyly said, “T.E.A.C.H. had a need, I had a full fridge, and a full gas tank, so I put it in the T.E.A.C.H. account. I was comfy and if I could make a kid’s experience better, then why not. The bonus paid for smiles,” Smitty said.

Eric Ginnard – eginnard@shawmedia.com


TO OUR Everyday Hero

BRENDA BREWER 12 YEAR VOLUNTEER serving the patients and families of Joliet Area Community Hospice

250 Water Stone Circle, Joliet 815-740-4104 www.joliethospice.org Serving 8 Illinois Counties

Comfort - Love - Respect

STRONG COMMUNITIES

START HERE

By working together, we can make our world better. Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees.

We salute you, Nick Macris! GREATER JOLIET AREA YMCA

(815) SAY-YMCA • www.jolietymca.org

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

Congratulations

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The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

| EVERYDAY HEROES

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Heroes: Thank you for all that you do Recently, I had the distinct privilege and honor to deliver keynote remarks at Shaw Media’s 3rd annual Everyday Heroes Award Breakfast. Over the past three years, the Herald-News and the Morris Herald-News have recognized 47 individuals and one group who have had a profound impact on our community and have made a difference in the lives of countless residents in Will and Grundy counties. Shaw Media and the event’s sponsors – Exxon Mobil, CenterPoint, Silver Cross Hospital and D’Arcy Automobiles – are to be commended for shining the spotlight on these Everyday Heroes. In his book, “The Last Lecture,” Randy Pausch challenges us to be “communitarians” because we all have a responsibility to contribute to the common good of our community. As you review the profiles of these 16 “communitarians,” you will find extraordinary acts of kindness and generosity which contribute to our common good. Our Everyday Heroes are helping

VIEWS Larry Wiers the poor, the oppressed, the homeless, the hungry, the aged, the sick, and the addicted. They are serving on countless boards, aiding first responders, befriending and rescuing their neighbors, fulfilling wishes of those less fortunate, introducing children to the “great outdoors”, mentoring and coaching our youth, beautifying and protecting our neighborhoods and promoting all that is good about our community. Our Everyday Heroes are bonded by their fervent advocacy for social justice and their strong desire to help improve the quality of life for those they touch with their ministries. Because of their efforts, we are a stronger community. So, what is the “anatomy’’ of our Everyday Heroes? They choose service over self-interest. They’re generous,

kind, thoughtful and raise people up by their deeds and words. They realize that, as Maya Angelou admonishes, “You cannot go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You have to throw something back!” They understand that “greatness” is simple, humble and hidden. They are unsung volunteers and they prefer to keep it that way. They dedicate their lives to something bigger than themselves. They know they are alive not for themselves but for one another. And, they perform their local “miracles” on an everyday basis. Improving the welfare and happiness for people in our community is a way of life for our Everyday Heroes, not an isolated volunteer effort. In addition to this year’s 16 honorees, we know there are hundreds and hundreds of everyday heroes in our midst. To all of you, we offer our profound gratitude and appreciation for all that you do! Shirley Chisholm once shared that “Service is the rent we pay for the priv-

ilege of living on this earth.” I think it is safe to say that our Everyday Heroes’ rent is paid in full!

• Larry Wiers served as this year’s keynote speaker at the Everyday Heroes Breakfast. He is currently an assistant professor and director of school partnerships at Lewis University. Prior to joining the faculty at Lewis, Larry was the superintendent of Troy School District 30-C where he devoted 33 years of service to the Troy learning community. Larry’s has served on numerous boards and volunteered for many area organizations including: Greater Joliet Area “Y” Metro Board of Directors and Chairman of the Teen and Adult Advancement Advisory Council, Guardian Angel Community Services, Vista Learning “Computers to Kids,” Will County Senior Services Center Meals on Wheels Program, Plainfield Lions Club Christmas Basket Program, United Way of Will County Campaign - Education Division Committee and more.

CONGRATULATIONS TO

John Sheridan

on being selected an Everyday Hero!

And thank you for over three decades of service to people with disabilities in Will County. From your friends and family at

www.CornerstoneServices.org BE A GOOD

NEIGHBOR

Volunteer.

Please Recycle Your Newspaper


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FASTEST GROWING AGRICULTURE EXPORT HUB IN THE MIDWEST

WE GO DEVELOPING CenterPoint’s Intermodal Center in Joliet and Elwood consists of 6,500 acres and encompasses 16 Million SF of warehousing, which is expandable to 36 Million SF. The development has generated thousands of jobs and millions of tax revenue dollars. CenterPoint Properties is proud to invest in Will County and partner with the local communities.

EVERYDAY HEROES | The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

CenterPoint Intermodal Joliet/Elwood

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The Herald-News / TheHerald-News.com • Sunday, September 10, 2017

| EVERYDAY HEROES

There is Safety in (our) Numbers.

Front Row: Gamilah Pierre, MD • Reza Gamagami, MD • Nicole Gress, MD Thomas Kazmierczak, DO • Peter Vienne, DO • Tom Antkowiak, MD • Paul Trksak, MD Back Row: Francisco Garcini, MD • Nahla Merhi, MD • Tom Vasdekas, MD • Robert Daley, MD Venkata Kakarla, MD • Andrew Ehmke, DO • Thai Nguyen, MD • Laura Ragauskaite, MD

Largest Robotic Surgery Program in the Chicago Area If you are considering surgery, you can count on The Midwest Institute for Robotic Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital to have you feeling better in no time. Home to some of the most experienced surgeons in the nation, we perform more surgeries – including hysterectomies and complex procedures to treat colorectal cancer – using robotic-assisted technology than anyone else in the Chicago area. Some procedures are even performed through a single, tiny incision in your belly-button for virtually scar-less results. Surgeons from around the world train with us. Our vast experience means better outcomes for you such as less pain and risk of complications, shorter hospital stay, and faster recovery. Learn more at midwestroboticsurgery.org Robotic – assisted Surgical Procedures to Treat:

• • • • • • • • •

Cervical & Endometrial Cancer Colorectal Cancer Endometriosis Gallbladder Disease Gall Stones Heartburn Hernia Hip Pain Kidney Cancer

• • • • • • • •

Knee Pain Lung Cancer Ovarian & Uterine Cancer Pelvic Pain Pelvic Organ Prolapse Prostate Cancer Urinary & Fecal Incontinence Uterine Fibroids

MIDWEST INSTITUTE for

ROBOTIC SURGERY at Silver Cross Hospital

1900 Silver Cross Blvd. • New Lenox Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.

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Everyday Heroes September 2017  
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