If volunteerism were a sport, Ashley Blankstein-Delaney would have the equivalent of more than a few Olympic gold medals, at least a pair of Heisman trophies, a closetful of green jackets, and Vince Lombardi trophies tackling a Stanley Cup or two on a mantel in her house in Glenview.
Then again, she’d probably end up giving each prize away to brighten others’ lives.
“It’s in my blood, to give back by being super involved in many organizations,” says Blankstein-Delaney, a life winner and the highly engaging and energetic director of business development and physician relations at Whitehall of Deerfield, a personalized, luxury healthcare and post-hospital rehabilitation facility with a classic-hotel look.
“My father [the late Stuart Blankstein] served important roles at Lambs Farm [a Libertyville-based nonprofit organization that provides services for adults with developmental disabilities] and was always mindful of those less fortunate. I worked in Lambs Farm’s ice cream parlor and pet center as a teen. My mom [Karen] has been active there, in addition to her involvement with Chicago Botanic Garden.”
Blankstein-Delaney — 46 years old, the wife of Lake Bluff Middle School special education teacher Tad Delaney and the mother of their two sons, 14-year-old Griffin and 12-year-old Brendan — somehow manages to find time to serve, in various capacities, the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce, the NorthShore University HealthSystems Auxiliary Board, The Kindness Connection, Faith in Action, Exclusive Professional Women’s Networking Group and Illinois Continuity of Care.
The 1989 New Trier High School graduate and ovarian cancer survivor chairs this year’s Cancer Wellness Center’s Run/Walk, set for April 29 at Independence Grove in Libertyville.
She has impacted other organizations … many others.
For years Whitehall of Deerfield has been a major sponsor of YMCA community events, including the annual North Suburban (Northbrook) YMCA Strong Kids Dinner. The dinner’s “Be a Hero!” theme supports the NSYMCA Strong Kids Fund, which makes Y program accessible to families in need.
The event plans to honor a couple of North Shore gems with the Thiel Award for Leadership and Social Responsibility at its 12th annual edition March 8 at Pinstripes in Northbrook.
The sparkling pair:
Whitehall of Deerfield.
Blankstein-Delaney had kindly shoehorned me into another one of her jam-packed days for an early Thursday morning breakfast/interview at Eggshell Café in Deerfield. She orders an egg-white omelet with mushrooms and extra spinach and a side of pita bread with grape jam. I cease searching the menu; I order the same.
“I spend half of my time each week working with an amazing staff at Whitehall, along with incredible doctors, and about half my time volunteering for important organizations,” says Blankstein-Delaney, who grew up in Glencoe and earned her degrees at Colorado State University (communications) and Curry College (master’s in higher education) in Milton, Massachusetts and spent seven years as director of admissions at Illinois School of Professional Psychology-Chicago. “I will always be grateful for Whitehall allowing me to devote time to volunteering; it’s one of the most important things I do.
“And I always enjoy, while I’m working, running into people from my other worlds.”
Her personal world changed due to the matchmaking skills of the best friend of her oral surgeon’s office manager. (Got that?) Ashley met Tad, and a courtship ensued. Tad later proposed to Ashley with the help of a … dessert.
Ashley and Tad ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Boston. Ashley cracked the fortune cookie and read the fortune, which was a question: Will you marry me, Ashley?
“Tad had gone to the restaurant in the morning to arrange everything,” Blankstein-Delaney says. “He put some thought into it. Did some work. Do you know how hard it is to place a little piece of paper into a cookie?”
They got married in a ceremony held at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“My husband, after a long day of work in a school, still likes to come home and sit down with our boys and help them with their homework,” Blankstein-Delaney says.
“My husband is a saint.”
Who happened to marry one.
Whitehall of Deerfield is located at 300 Waukegan Road; (847) 945-4600; for more information about the North Shore YMCA Strong Kids Dinner (March 8, 5:30-9 p.m.), please visit NSYMCA.org/strong-kids.