2019 Hearts of Gold Honorees

Heart of Gold Honorees Celebrated at February 16 Banquet
Posted on 01/10/2019

Celebrate the 2019 Village of Arlington Heights Heart of Gold honorees at a dinner banquet held on Saturday, February 16 at Rolling Green Country Club.  This year marks the 21st Hearts of Gold banquet - the culminations of an awards program recognizing those who live or work in Arlington Heights and have made a difference in the lives of others.

Each September, the community is invited to nominate people they know for one of 11 Heart of Gold categories. If you know of someone worthy of a Heart of Gold, please visit the Village’s website in September to find the online nomination form.  

If you are interested in attending the Heart of Gold event, please email nkluz@vah.com. The price is $60 per person.

Below is a list of the 2019 honorees followed by a brief overview about each award winner.

The 2019 Arlington Heights Hearts of Gold Honorees:

Beth Drost - Mentor Heart of Gold

Dawn Dalton - Best Neighbor Heart of Gold

Jim Voyles - Educator Heart of Gold

Jack Muldoon - Young at Heart

Tom and Alex DeTogne - Heroic

Katariena Leazer – Young Champion

Dave Flanagan – Volunteer

Neil Scheufler – Community Spirit

Dianna Ehrenfried – Business Leadership

Scout Troop 37 – Kenneth Bonder Beautification

Allen and Laurel Katz – Pam Stocking Heart of Gold

Mentor: Beth Drost

Beth DrostAfter raising three children and working for the Arlington Heights Senior Center and Lutheran Home, Beth Drost had a desire to go through formal training to be a temporary foster caretaker. Driven by her commitment to serving others, Beth and George Drost became certified foster parents in 2008 and since then have fostered 48 babies!

Beth’s unending patience and knew she would be  there were babies that needed a temporary home and mothers that needed support and guidance until they could manage the responsibility of parenting.  She proposed to George that they go through formal DCFS training to become a temporary foster home.  George agreed.  So, for the next three months every Wednesday night they trekked to RUSH University Medical Center to become certified foster parents. The first foster baby was welcomed into the Drost home in 2008.

Understanding the babies arrive without advance warning, Beth is ready at a moment’s notice to be the baby’s primary care provider for a few days or a few months.  Beth has fostered 47 babies! 

Beth is a shining example of a person who willingly shares her gifts to make the world a better place. 

Best Neighbor: Dawn Dalton

Dawn DaltonDawn Dalton is the definition of an amazing neighbor.  Since moving into town twelve years ago, Dawn has strived to bring the Arlington Heights’ Summerhill neighborhood ‘together’. Upon moving in, she went door-to-door to introduce herself, which is a tradition she continues today with new neighbors.

Dawn has been instrumental in the active social life and resultant coming together of her neighborhood.  This includes organizing numerous activities; the annual barbecue block party, monthly girls’ nights out and the child-focused Easter egg hunt and pumpkin carving party.  She is also active with those in need, including car pooling and checking on neighbors’ houses when they are out of town.

Dawn has also stepped up to protect the neighborhood.  She participated in the Citizen Police Academy and even assisted in identifying a drug dealer in her neighborhood.

It’s because of neighbors like Dawn that Arlington Heights is the City of Good Neighbors.

Educator: James Voyles

James Voyles“Passionate” and “compassionate” are two words that leap to mind when anyone thinks of James Voyles who is the Girls Athletic/Activity Director/PE Leaders’ Teacher/Cross Country and Track & Field Coach at Rolling Meadows High School. 

Jim teaches the Junior Leaders’ class.  Throughout the years his students have done incredible projects for the school and community, including an all-school Lip Dub, an outdoor all-school assembly, raising money and planning activities for St. Baldrick’s, and raising money and packing backpacks with the Supplies for the Homeless Backpack Project.

When a Rolling Meadows graduate, Shannon McNamara, went to college she was tragically murdered by a stalker.  Jim decided to honor Shannon’s memory by starting an annual 5K Run/Walk to raise money for a memorial scholarship in her name.  A promise he made to Mr. and Mrs. McNamara and now in its 18th year.

A highlight of Jim’s career so far is seeing potential in a student on the track team; the student went on to earn 8th in State.  Meanwhile, Jim called his contacts around the country and told college recruiters that he had a state-quality runner.  Through one of Jim’s contacts this student attended Brown University.  With the help of his dad, Jim literally drove across country to help this student setup his first dorm room and Jim applauded proudly when the student graduated from Brown University. 

Young at Heart: Jack Muldoon

Jack MuldoonJack Muldoon lost both of his parents while he was in high school but taught himself to persevere during hard times while always maintaining a positive outlook.  He modeled this by serving our country as a member of the United States Army.  After his time in the Army, Jack worked to earn his accounting degree from DePaul University and proceeded to attend Harvard Business School, where he was selected to attend the Army War College.

Jack retired in 1996 from a long, successful career in the casualty and property insurance industry but that certainly hasn’t slowed him down.  He continues to devote his time to helping others, not for recognition but because he is a true community servant who selflessly works to make a difference in the lives of others.  He’s taken all the experience and knowledge he has gathered over the years and continues to look for ways to share his insights and talents with others.

Jack’s community work has spanned the tenure of both his working and retirement years and the list is simply remarkable with service on National Boards and Township Councils.  He also gives lectures on investments for Wheeling Township, the Arlington Heights Senior Center and other local investment clubs that are smart enough to seek out his wisdom and generosity.

Since 2000 he has volunteered by teaching DIY investment workshops at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and the Senior Center.  He continues to serve on the Wheeling Township Senior Advisory and Action Council and has been named to the State of Illinois Senior Hall of Fame.

Heroic: Alex & Tom DeTogne

Alex and Tom DeTogneAlex and Tom DeTogne fell in love with an original Arlington Heights farmhouse built in 1911.  They knew it was where they wanted to raise their family.  Forty years later, they continue to enjoy their home, neighborhood and friends.

One evening while walking his dog Tom greeted a young woman whose husband he often saw around the neighborhood.  She told Tom that her husband had died a few weeks before in a terrible accident; he had fallen while doing home repairs for his parents.  Suddenly the lives of this young mom and her three young children were tragically changed.  Tom found out that her husband had started renovating their kitchen, it was not functional, and she did not have the means to have the work completed.

Tom shared this tragic news with his wife Alex and immediately they took action to do something for the family; contacting some of the neighbors and several contractors to see if they could help.  The “Make a House a Home” project was underway!  Many local contractors donated their time and talents to make the project come together. 

It is often said that the kitchen is the “heart” of the home.  Today this family is able to gather in the heart of their home, a new kitchen!  Alex and Tom opened their hearts and rallied many people so that the “Make a House a Home” project became a reality

Young Champion: Katariena Leazer

Katariena LeazerThe point at which one achieves the accomplishments to earn a Heart of Gold recognition varies, but it would be safe to say that the tender age of six is the exception and not the norm.  For that’s when Katariena Leazer, the 2019 Young Champion Heart of Gold recipient, first got involved with a diabetes support group with the Juvenile Diabetes Association (JDA) after being diagnosed with the disease a year earlier.

Two years later at the ripe old age of 8, Leazer (currently a senior at Buffalo Grove High School) followed that initial foray into volunteering by helping to inaugurate a local walk.  She has continued to raise funds since to the tune of over $110,000 through numerous grass root efforts ranging from door-to-door loose change collections to annual garage sales.  Katariena has been such an inspiration that her friends have even started a number of their own events!

Katariena’s other passion, beside volunteering, is figure skating, which she took up after watching the Olympics as a youngster.  To no one’s surprise, she merged the two when she held a “Skate for a Cure” event in 2014.  She regularly participates in regional competition and testing through the United States Figure Skating Association (USFS) all while continuing to volunteer as a figure skating instructor.  The only child of Jeff and Karen Leazer, Katariena plans to continue skating in college while she pursues a major in Education.

Volunteer: Dave Flanagan

Dave FlanaganDave Flanagan, better known as “Mr. Dave,” has been a volunteer fixture at Westgate Elementary School for the past 11 years.  He has been a part of many student activities such as Club K, PE Class (along with Coach K), the Fun Fair, Ice Cream Socials, the Back-to-School Block Party, Opening Day activities, and Field Day.  Over 300 staff and students wrote cards about Mr. Dave, saying that he is “super cool in many ways” and “will always be there for us to help when we are having problems.”

When not volunteering Dave works at both Mariano’s and Clearbrook.  He has lived in Arlington Heights since 2007 and lives on his own in an apartment in downtown Arlington Heights.  His father currently lives in Chicago (mother deceased) and he has a brother in South Elgin and sisters in Western Springs and Burr Ridge.  Mr. Dave also enjoys spending time on the computer, watching sports and movies, and listening to 1980’s and 90’s music.  Mr. Dave’s presence at Westgate is important to the staff and students and their words reflect this connection -- “He really helps Westgate, it would not be the same if he was not here.”

Community Spirit:  Neil Scheufler

Neil ScheuflerNeil Scheufler can be found everywhere around town, enthusiastically promoting a current show at Metropolis or planning or volunteering at a major Arlington Heights event (large or small). 

Neil grew up in Morton Grove and moved to Arlington Heights 33 Years ago, where he and his wife Linda raised their 2-Children. Neil’s current position is working on Major Gifts/ Planned Giving for the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. He describes himself as being from a Family of Volunteers “Volunteering & Giving Back- is in my blood”. He fondly remembers assisting his parents volunteer as far back as the age of 8 and saw how much joy they got from giving back.

Neil has an impressive and extensive background in leadership and volunteering positions that have significantly affected life in Arlington Heights.  They include 25 Years on Frontier Days Festival, 22- Years on the Special Events Commission- Serving 4 years as Chair, 8- Year Member of the AH Rotary- Serving 1 ½ Years as Admin Chair, Longtime Member of Our Savior Lutheran Church- Serving as Asst. Minister, Church Council, Teaching Sunday School, 8-Year Member of the Hersey Instrumental Assoc.- 2-years as President & 2-VP, 1-Year on the Metropolis Board. Active Member & Volunteer for the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce.  

Business Leadership: Dianna Ehrenfried    

Dianna EhrenfriedFor over 30 years, Visualedge Creative Services has been a mainstay in the Arlington Heights business community with Dianna firmly at the helm. Founded in 1984, this outstanding marketing and award winning design firm has left a visible and lasting impression on consumers with work on behalf of many local businesses, municipalities and organizations. Visualedge has remained on the leading edge of an industry that has gone through significant changes.

Her success as a female business owner provides a strong example to young women in our community. Dianna inspires us all with her commitment to selfless sharing of her talents for non-profit organizations, serving as President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and generously assisting organizations with marketing and design work for Saint Viator High School, NWSRA, Metropolis and Saint Alphonsus Parish to name just a few. One of her most cherished volunteer projects happened while working with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where she guided young middle school students working to win start-up capital to launch businesses they created.

Dianna will tell you that she loves her work, and finds great joy in helping organizations large and small, but we are pleased to acknowledge all she does, and know that her efforts have been not only successful, inspirational and impressive, but invaluable to so many over the past 30 years.

Kenneth Bonder Beautification: Scout Troop 37

Thom BanholzerScoutmasters Thom Banholzer and Mike Patterson are proud of Scout Troop 37 and that it is a “scout-led” troop.  The scouts are responsible for the planning and decision making that goes along with leading a group of achievers. In fact, this troop earned recognition in 2018 for the most Scouts to earn the Eagle rank in our area!

From 2016-2018, there have been more than 10 Eagle Scout projects performed by Scout Troop 37 and several have focused on projects that have helped beautify our Village.  These projects include clearing the trail near Greens Park, Cleaning the Lake Terramere park shoreline, installing a sculpture garden at St. Peter’s School, creating a native plant garden at Buffalo Grove HS and projects at Christian Liberty Academy, St. James School and Olive-Mary Stitt School. 

This self-led group of scouts has completed projects across the Village and have made a real impact on the beautification of our town.  We suspect that future members will keep this tradition going.  For this dedication and hard work, Arlington Heights Scout Troop 37 has earned the Ken Bonder Beautification Heart of Gold Award.

Pam Stocking Heart of Gold: Allen and Laurel Katz

Laurel and Allen KatzLaurel and Allen Katz are passionate about dedicating their time and efforts to organizations helping people with disabilities. These organizations highlight awareness of people with disabilities and provide them with opportunities to showcase their skills and talents. 

Being parents of a child with a disability has given Laurel and Allen Katz a passion and purpose in being a part of programs that emphasize the person and not the disability they may have. Their volunteer work underscores the fact that people with disabilities are not limited in actively participating in everyday life.

Their son, Stephen, is an inspiration to them in their dedication. Because of their ongoing love and support, Stephen has become a successful adult who is living a fulfilling life. He, along with his parents, are actively involved in Special Olympics throughout the year as part of the Event Management Team for Region B Special Olympics Illinois.  Allen serves as the Buddy Baseball Commissioner and coach of one of the senior teams that is part of the Buffalo Grove Recreational Association. Laurel is the Team Manager.

In addition, Laurel and Allen also volunteer countless hours to the Special Leisure Services Foundation, which does fundraising for the Northwest Special Recreation Association. Laurel has volunteered in many capacities for the organization. Currently she is the NWSRA Lightning Booster Club Chairman. Volunteering for the Arlington Heights Frontier Days Festival for many years, Laurel and Allen chair the Dessert Booth for the entire event on behalf of the Booster Club.

Their impressive passion for organizations that assist people with disabilities was inspired through their love and commitment to their son with special needs. Giving of their time and contributing to our community in this special way embraces the spirit of Arlington Heights as being the “City of Good Neighbors.”