The recipients were nominated by their peers and have been leaders in their respective areas of volunteering. To honor these individuals, LCC recently hosted the eighth annual I Care Awards ceremony at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest. To date, more than 70 Lake County residents have been honored with this award.
Deb Dintruff of Lake Bluff
In recognition of her work with the Lake Bluff Park District. Deb Dintruff strongly believes that volunteering is an important way to strengthen communities. For the last several years, Deb has been instrumental in organizing the annual Lake Bluff 4th of July Parade, Block Party, and Bike Race. These events benefit the Lake Bluff Park District and bring more than 20,000 people to the community of 6,000—further benefiting the small businesses and the community as a whole. But, Deb stresses that she doesn’t work alone. “In Lake Bluff, we have great volunteers who want to come back and do it again. We are so fortunate here,” Deb says. “They find pleasure of some manner in helping with community events and feel connected, as I do, through volunteering.”
Corinne Torkelson of Lake Bluff
In recognition of her work at Roberti Community House and The House of Peach Domestic Violence Shelter. Helping women and families make better lives for themselves is Corinne Torkelson’s mission. This year, Corinne is honored for her work at Roberti Community House, a community center located in a distressed area of Waukegan, and at The House of Peace Shelter, which aides families dealing with domestic abuse. At Roberti Community House, she helped create a “fun with food” program that focuses on nutrition, economics, and gardening. Corrine also teaches people who receive food from the nearby Holy Family Food Pantry how to create nutritious meals. “We share recipes and respect each other’s differences,” she says. “We want to learn, too, to be vulnerable and make mistakes. That’s how we all learn.”
Barb Karacic of Lake Forest
In recognition of her work at Beacon Place. A longtime volunteer at Holy Family Food Pantry in Waukegan, Barb Karacic saw the need for more space for the pantry’s programs. So, in 2012, she started Beacon Place—a home in the Waukegan community that provides meals, after-school programs, special events, and summer camps for children. The organization also offers English classes, household finance classes, computer training, and nutrition education for the parents. In return, the parents give back by cleaning and maintaining the house, while the children are held accountable for completing homework from school. “We want to encourage self-esteem,” Barb says. “We want to see smiling faces and happy lives.”
Hope Goldman of Lake Forest
In recognition of her tutoring work. As a high school junior, Hope Goldman knows that having a one-on-one guide to explain difficult concepts can make all the difference to a young learner. Despite her young age, Hope manages to donate about 350 hours every year to several different causes: She tutors for the Math Resource Center at Lake Bluff Middle School and Nuestro Center in Highwood. She has also participated in a children’s coat drive for Mothers Trust Teens and has volunteered with the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, PADS Lake County, and the American Red Cross. “I like learning,” Hope says. “And, I like helping others.”
Butch Pfaelzer of Lake Bluff
In recognition of his work with the Executive Service Corps of Chicago. Giving back after a long successful career was a no-brainer for Butch Pfaelzer. Butch, a retired executive, joined the Executive Service Corps of Chicago (ESC) in 2001, and has since provided business advice to non-profits in Lake County and Chicagoland. The organization helps non-profits with a broad range of issues, including revenue development, capacity building, strategic planning, and emergency action projects. “[It’s fulfilling] when I meet their needs and help the client accomplish what they wanted to accomplish,” Butch says. For his work with ESC, he was named chairman, and is a life director. He has also assumed several leadership roles on non-profit boards, including Highland Park Hospital, Michael Reese Health Trust, Merit School of Music, among others.
Mindy Mooney of Lake Forest
In recognition of her work with Reading Power. Mindy Mooney shows her passion for improving literacy through her dedication to the Reading Power program in North Chicago. There, Mindy tutors children two to three days each week, attends conferences on the latest tutoring techniques, serves on the organization’s board of directors, and acted as a site coordinator for a Reading Power start-up at South Elementary School in North Chicago. “Tutoring students in our program for nine years and seeing children grow as readers and writers has been humbling and gratifying beyond words,” Mindy says. “Seeing former students in the halls from prior years who smile, reach out, and assure me that, ‘yes,’ they’re reading, simply warms the heart.”(Mindy Mooney is pictured here with South Elementary School student Ja’Nya Hudson.)
HealthReach of Lake County: 37 local volunteer doctors, dentists, and practitioners for their work at HealthReach.
HealthReach is Lake County’s only free clinic that provides medical, dental, and pharmaceutical care to more than 5,000 of the estimated 72,000 uninsured residents of Lake County. From its humble beginnings as a 1,000-square-foot storefront clinic in 1992, HealthReach has grown to include two large clinics and a licensed pharmacy. Optometry, dental care, cancer screening, diagnostic and lab services, chiropractic care, and physical therapy are all made available through volunteer physicians and others. “These doctors spend time with patients; this is not just a job,” says HealthReach volunteer and Lake Forest resident William Cape, M.D. “We love our patients and we love our fellow volunteers. The medical assistants, interpreters, and other personnel get in the spirit of helping.”
Editor’s Note: In addition to the honorees from Lake Forest and Lake Bluff listed here, I Care Awards were also given to Ted Less of Highland Park for his work with Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center of Gurnee; Louise Przywara of Libertyville for volunteering for Catholic Charities; and Jessica Mitchell of Gurnee for her efforts in environmental conservation.
Megan McCann and Jenna Schubert // Photography by Marita Poll Images