Hearts of Gold Recipients Honored February 17, 2018

Hearts of Gold Recipients Honored at February 17th Banquet
Posted on 02/05/2018

People who live and work in Arlington Heights and have made a difference in the lives of others or have significantly contributed to the community will be honored at the 20th Hears of Gold Awards banquet on Saturday, February 17 at the Rolling Green Country Club.

The Hearts of Gold, organized by the Special Events Commission, honors educators, neighbors, business leaders, volunteers, students, senior citizens and others who have been nominated by a group or individual for the annual program. The nomination process starts in September and information can be found on the Village’s website, www.vah.com.

Please join the Village in congratulating the 2018 Hearts of Gold Honorees. Invitation for the Hearts of Gold Celebration and RSVP card.

Mentor Heart of Gold – Matthew Hahn

Matthew HahnHahn donates his time and efforts to a multitude of worthy causes within the Arlington Heights community. While he does this in a quiet and ever-so-humble way, the impact of his selfless acts are nothing short of remarkable.

As a substitute teacher for Arlington Heights School District 25 he is not only a go-to-choice of principals and teachers, but also the students. He is active in St. James Church as a deacon and volunteer for countless projects where he collaborates with young adults, senior citizens, and just about anyone willing to share his passion for helping others.

Many see him as a natural born leader and teacher. Perhaps it was his incredibly supportive parents or his time in the United States Marine Corp. that taught him how to lead and inspire others. He’s served as a respected mentor to countless young men as a troop leader and volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America. He’s been an exemplary role model for kids, taking them on trips to nursing homes to visit the elderly, serving ice cream to bedridden residents.

Regardless of his busy work schedule, school, church, civic, and family responsibilities he never hesitates to help. Along with his wife Zuly, and their four kids, the Hahn’s have called Arlington Heights their home for over two decades. Matthew Hahn is exactly the sort of mentor we can all hope to have and be one day.

Best Neighbor Heart of Gold – Chris Guth

Chris GuthIn the “City of Good Neighbors”, it’s hard to select just one person who truly embodies that spirit. Chris Guth, however, has performed many acts of kindness whenever needed.

Growing up in a multigenerational home, Chris cared for her aging grandparents and did chores on their farm. When she moved to Arlington Heights, Chris became Block Captain for the Northgate Civic Association, collecting dues and attending to needs of the area. As a young Mom, Chris became involved with Meals on Wheels and with kids in tow, delivered food for the homebound.

At St. Edna’s parish, Chris took Thanksgiving baskets to families, delivering turkeys, milk and bread to those in need. She taught classes at the Church and was secretary on the finance committee. She continues to work with the Care Ministry and takes communion to the homebound.

In her professional life Chris served for 13 years as Wheeling Township’s Assistant Director of Senior and Disability Services. Her work with Meals on Wheels, Friendly Visitor program, Caring Caller and Make-a-Difference Fun Fair for children with disabilities were just a few of the programs she oversaw. Now retired, Chris remains active with “Friendly Visitors” program assisting those who are visually impaired.

Educator Heart of Gold - John Novak

John NovakJohn Novak was going into engineering but for a very influential educator during his high school tenure. Bob Hannah influenced John’s career path and his memory challenges him daily in how he lives his life. Bob Hannah held the same position at John Hersey High, Assistant Principal for Student Activities, and in this role grew his programs and direction to be focused on the “Hersey Family.” Both men recognizing not only the students but also how they can make a difference in the larger community. 

Bob received the Hearts of Gold Educator recognition is 2003 for his efforts and John fittingly has taken up the mantle and continues his amazing legacy. John oversees programs that highlight student’s skills and talents such as the variety show and honors assemblies. He also spearheads e orts to allow students to help those in need in the larger community, including fundraisers for backpacks and school supplies for refugees, raising money for a classmate needing a liver transplant and the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. 

One of John’s favorite events is the Alumni Basketball Tournament held on Christmas Eve each year. Past students come from far and wide to attend this event and prove their lasting ties to the Hersey community. John wants each student to realize they are a family and as such treat each other and the larger community with care and compassion

Young at Heart Heart of Gold – Joan Drolet

Joan DroletJoan Drolet is a true example of someone who shares her passion and talents with her community. Her late husband, Dick, and Joan got involved at our Lady of the Wayside Parish when they moved from Chicago to Rolling Meadows in 1954. Joan volunteered as an accompanist /Choir Director. She played at Sunday Masses, weddings, and funerals. Sixty four years later Joan is still playing at Sunday Mass and also assists families with planning and playing the music for their loved one’s Funeral Mass.

In 1959, Joan and her family moved from Rolling Meadows to Arlington Heights. Joan taught piano lessons in her home. She taught up to 40 lessons per week while raising seven children. Today Joan continues to teach piano. Since 1959, Joan has had 550 students! Joan plays the piano in the lobby at Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. She utilizes her sewing skills in making pillows for the patients. She also sews baptismal bibs and mends the priest’s vestments for Our Lady of the Wayside.

Before they closed this year, Joan was a volunteer for Preservation of Human Dignity, an organization that provided help to families in the NW suburbs. She provided mending and laundering of baby clothes for the resale shop.

Joan is truly a senior citizen who has continued to contribute to our community and is very deserving of the Heart of Gold award for Young at Heart!

Heroic Heart of Gold – Robert Extrom

Robert ExtromAs a child of the Depression, Robert Extrom never realized his family’s poverty would give him the perseverance, courage, and loyalty he would need in the service of his country.

At 18, when tensions were escalating between North and South Korea, Bob enlisted in the Marine Corps. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, he was trained in radio/communications at Camp Pendleton in California. The Marines’ motto, Semper Fidelis—“Always Faithful”—took root in Bob’s heart when the 1st Marine Division received orders to ship off to Korea for war.

On September 15, 1950, Marine forces landed at the strategic port of Inchon and pushed inland to recapture Seoul. By November, the 1st Marines were fighting for survival in the Chosin Reservoir, where temperatures dipped to -45° F. The Chinese troops outnumbered the Marines 8-1, completely surrounding them. During fierce engagement, Bob was blown off his feet by mortar shells, sustaining a concussion and a back injury. Large chunks of shrapnel embedded in his spare battery thus saving his life.

Bob became one of the courageous “Frozen Chosin,” or “The Chosin Few,” who made it out of the Chosin Reservoir alive. For heroically putting himself in harm’s way and persevering to keep lines of communication open, Bob received two combat “V” awards and was later promoted to Staff Sergeant. OORAH!!

Young Champion Heart of Gold – Elizabeth Ferrazza

Elizabeth FerrazaElizabeth (Lizzie) Ferrazza has been interested in arts and crafts for as long as she can remember, from drawing and painting as a young girl to performing in the school theater as a young adult.

At age five, Lizzie began to donate her birthday gift money to animal needs. This became an annual recurring theme until a few years later when she was made aware of the horrors of animal kill shelters and decided to combine her passion for crafts with her love of animals to help out as only a 10-year old can, making and selling homemade jewelry at the inaugural Arlington Heights Doggie Block Party.

Since then she has continued to support a number of local organizations, including Mady’s Way, Second City Canine Rescue and The Buddy Foundation to the tune of over $7,000 donated to 12 different no-kill shelters. She also recently partnered with the Northwest Special Recreation Association (NWSRA) to provide life skills to young adults with disabilities by having them help with sorting all of the jewelry that is donated.

She was featured on Windy City Live as a Four Star Chicagoan this past August and in case you were wondering, Lizzie, the eldest of three, was instrumental in her family adding a sixth member when they adopted Henry, a terrier mutt, in 2014.

Volunteer Heart of Gold – Mary McArthur

Mary McArthurFor a decade now Mary has helped those in Arlington Heights, and their families, navigate their end of life journey, known as hospice. Hospice often evokes strong reactions as Mary has discovered, but she believes that there can still be joy found. “It takes a village to birth a child. It takes a village to raise a child. There is no reason it shouldn’t take a village to escort a person out of this life.” Her daily focus is to help patients realize that though death is coming, there is wonder in the everyday. “Let’s help you live until you don’t” is an adage of hers. Mary has found that the power of kindness, listening, and music has ways of reaching people and allowing them the opportunity to cherish many last moments.

Mary’s gift is shared through endless hours of volunteering her companionship to those who may otherwise be too overwhelmed to have a true confidante. Her finely honed attending skills coupled with her amazing empathy creates an atmosphere as though Mary and her patron have known each other their whole lives.

Mary helps all of us realize that there are ‘worse things than dying’ and that death need not be feared but embraced with reverence and love. Mary helps each family know that the best way to honor someone you have lost, is to fully live yourself. “Life is for the living,” a quote she enjoys from her mother, reminds all of us to seize each day.  

Community Spirit Heart of Gold – Billy Anderson

Billy AndersonBilly Anderson is described by his peers as a role model and one of the most dedicated volunteers for the Rolling Meadows High School staff. After attending Rolling Meadows and graduating in 1999, Billy wanted to give back to the school that supported him and helped him grow and succeed.

For the last 20 years Billy has been the “hardest-working" volunteer member of the Rolling Meadows custodial team. Down Syndrome does not define who he is, it is just a part of who he is. He is defined by the pride he takes in his work, not missing a day of service, and bringing joy to the entire school community. His support for Rolling Meadows extends beyond his daily routine as he attends basketball, football (only missed 2 in 20 years!), and baseball games to cheer on the students and staff. His hobbies include NWSRA Unified Bowling with his girlfriend, fishing, and word searches.

Billy does not do it alone - he is championed by his loving parents, Lori and William and spends time supporting his niece Hailey and his nephew Tyler in their activities. Together they provide the opportunity for Billy to continue to volunteer and give back to the people that describe him as the “heart and soul of Rolling Meadows” and someone who “represents all that is good in this world.”


Business Leadership Heart of Gold - Napleton’s Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram

Napleton'sEdward W. Napleton opened his first automotive business in 1931 on Chicago’s South Side. Today the Napleton Family operates more than 83 dealerships in six states. Taking pride in helping each community they live and work in.

Napleton Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram makes Arlington Heights a better place to work and live through their participation and support of community organizations and programs. Through the support of General Manager Jody Adams and the team at Napleton, the dealership has supported programs including sponsorship of the Arlington Heights Frontier Days, service to Timothy’s Ministry in feeding the homeless and donating to the Fill the Boot Campaign for Muscular Dystrophy.

The team at Napleton has also run food drives for the St. Alphonsus Church Food Pantry and run raffles on site for Hersey High School and Toys for Tots. Most recently, the team has worked with the Arlington Heights Police Department on the ‘Cradle Your Distraction Campaign’ providing cell phone cradles instead of tickets to drivers who were texting while driving.

Kenneth M. Bonder Beautification Heart of Gold – Kathy Wolan

Kathy WolanSome might say Kathy was born with a green thumb. Growing up in Franklin Park, Kathy’s education in horticulture began at an early age. Always having a piece of the family’s yard to do what she desired, Kathy learned firsthand the art and science of how plants grow and thrive.

Kathy and her husband, Chester, moved to Arlington Heights in 1971. Kathy expanded her knowledge of plants by experimenting in her yard and started sharing her affinity for gardening with the community in 1996 by tending the gardens at Our Lady of the Wayside. In 2002, Kathy and a friend were on the Arlington Heights House Walk where the docent was an Arlington Heights Garden Club member who encouraged Kathy to join. Without hesitation Kathy completed the application and immediately started her journey with the Garden Club. Kathy has been an active member ever since by holding leadership roles and coordinating multiple gardening ventures, the most notorious being the gardens at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum.

Kathy loves every minute of every task related to gardening from the design and plant selection to the weeding and watering. Kathy enjoys gardening in itself but gardening with a friend or two where there is also conversation while they work is, in her words, “pure joy.” Kathy’s sunny outlook and willingness to get her hands dirty makes the Village of Arlington Heights a more beautiful a place to be.

Pam Stocking Heart of Gold – Deb Whisler

Deb WhislerAs a resident who loves her community, Deb Whisler not only served residents of Arlington Heights as the recently retired Director of Communications and Marketing at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library for 27 years, but she also took on many leadership and volunteer roles for causes and organizations that benefit the community.

To Deb, giving back to a community she cares deeply about is second nature. Her active life of connecting with community service groups makes for an impressive list of volunteerism. She served as a member, board member and Chairman of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. Deb also participated in the Rotary Club of Arlington Heights, created and organized the community’s holiday book drive at the library, and Wheeling Township’s Adopt-A-Family effort. Deb also volunteered at Wheeling Township packing Thanksgiving baskets for those in need, served on the United Way Board, the Metropolis Board, and was appointed to the District 25 Leadership Learning Team.

Through her talented leadership and volunteerism, she spread enthusiasm among those she served with and mentored others to join in or be leaders in their own endeavors of service. Whenever called upon, Deb was ready to help. Her tireless efforts and creative talent have made a difference in people’s lives, and she has been a valuable contributor to what makes Arlington Heights a wonderful community.