Sunday, November 25, 2012
Jen Rubino, 17, a high school senior, has braved two dozen surgeries so far. After one, a kind act inspired her to start a charity that has mushroomed, gained celebrity endorsements and helped children in unimaginable pain.
- VOLUNTEERS IN THE NEWS
- Pam DeFiglio
Sunday, November 25, 2012
As an 11-year-old with a chronic illness, Jen Rubino was having a dark day. She'd had her 13th surgery, and she was lying in a hospital bed, in pain. When she received a handmade greeting card saying "stay strong" from a volunteer she never met, she says it made a world of difference to know that others were pulling for her to make it--and it really did help her to stay strong. Now 17, Rubino, of Park Ridge, a senior at Maine South High School, has founded a charity to give other seriously ill kids that sense of hope and caring she says the card meant to her. Though Rubino struggles with chronic pain every day, she has managed, through Cards for Hospitalized Kids, to help 10,200 kids in hospitals in many states, helped by endorsements …
Thursday, September 6, 2012
'We Are Not A Community of Strangers.' Residents and organizations from Wilmette and Glenview helped raised money to buy a van for a Romona Elementary School family whose daughter has a severe neurological disorder.
When Wilmette firefighter Ben Wozney learned that a neighbor could not afford a much-needed wheelchair-accessible van, he decided to take action. In just over a month, Wozney, along with his neighbors, and Wilmette and Glenview organizations were able to raise $8,000 to buy a wheelchair-accessible van for the Kurtz family. “It was just extraordinary touching,” David Kurtz said tearing up when the community presented the van to the family Tuesday. “It’s amazing the outpouring and generosity of people, it came entirely unexpected to me.” Watch a video of the community surprising the Kurtz family on the right. Growing up, Kurtz’s daughter Addie, 6, was a happy baby until she was suddenly diagnosed with severe neurologic disorder as a …
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The 17-year-old has planted close to 20 vegetables on top of the roof at True Value Hardware store near the Linden “L” stop.
A New Trier High School student is hoping to change the way people get their food one rooftop at a time. Maren Alexander started planting vegetables on the rooftop in Wilmette as part of a yearlong school project called Everything’s Connected. “My action plan is to create a rooftop garden in Wilmette at the True Value Hardware store to encourage urban agriculture,” Alexander wrote on her blog. Located on a small roof at 411 Linden Ave., Alexander hopes the environmentally friendly way of growing plants will educate the public about the possibilities of green roofs. “Anybody can do it,” she said. “I’m 17 years old and I have four gardens, and I’m somehow doing it, so you can, too.” This is the first time Alexander has tried growing …
Monday, June 4, 2012
New Trier High School senior Fitz Bowen said coaching the school’s golf team was a source of “constant joy.”
Kenilworth resident Fitz Bowen was a captain of the New Trier High School JV lacrosse team his sophomore year, so he was stunned when he was cut from the varsity team as a junior. “I needed to find something that would get me out of myself, because when you don’t make a sports team that you’re expecting to make, you’re mad at yourself,” Bowen said. “The other game I play is golf and that’s a game of ups and downs as well, so I couldn’t always count on that. I need something I could find constant joy in.” Bowen found that joy volunteering for Special Olympics. He’d done some work with the organization before and decided to pursue it further by volunteering to coach the high school’s special needs students in soccer and track every Tuesday …
Monday, April 30, 2012
New Trier High School junior Zan Fisher recently requested the Village of Wilmette host a hearing on backyard chickens.
What started out as a school project is now turning into civic action for New Trier High School junior Zan Fisher. The Wilmette resident requested the village host a hearing on backyard chickens during a board meeting on April 24. “I’m not only representing myself but many, many committed Wilmette residents who believe that the time is right to legalize backyard chickens in Wilmette,” Fisher told the board. Stay up to date on the latest local news by signing up for our free morning newsletter. Village President Chris Canning told Fisher the board would take her request into consideration but pointed out the board addressed the same issue in April 2011. Last year, local food activist, Diane Schaffner, requested the board exempt chickens …
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The authors of “The Midwestern Native Garden” are hosting presentations and signings in Wilmette, Winnetka and Glencoe
It was the lack of butterflies that made Wilmette resident Charlotte Adelman realize there was something wrong with her garden. It was populated by beautiful exotic flowers like Chinese day lilies, but her flora failed to attract any fauna. “There they sit doing nothing but being visual,” Adelman said. “I noticed where there’s native plants they’ll always have bees buzzing around and they’ll be attracting butterflies, so I started working on the idea of having native plants in my own garden.” Adelman filled her garden with grasses native to the Prairie State. A retired attorney, Adelman had written a book on the history of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois in 1992, and her gardening project inspired her to change her literary focus. …
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Deborah Lazar is raising money to rebuild a library in the coastal town of Petit Goave. That's gotten harder to do as the memory of the devastating earthquake two years ago starts to fade.
The only time New Trier High School librarian Deborah Lazar paused during an hour-long conversation about her fundraising efforts to rebuild a Haitian library is when asked what she felt when she heard about the catastrophic earthquake that hit the country she’d grown to love. “To see it was devastating,” she said. “To know that people live and keep going in that is what I carry with me here.” That is what keeps Lazar motivated in her fundraising work two years after the quake that killed more than 200,00 people and left three times that many homeless. And it’s why she is on a renewed quest to remind the rest of us that the restoration work there is far from done. “It is so important to keep Haiti in the hearts and minds of people,” she …
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The organization, Elyssa’s Mission, has created a scholarship program to encourage Loyola Academy students to raise awareness of teen suicide.
Northfield resident Joanne Meyers gets frustrated when she hears about high school students committing suicide. She worries there will be another death, or that there are still at-risk students in that community not getting the help they need. It’s a personal issue for Meyers, whose daughter, Elyssa, committed suicide in 2004 as a sophomore at New Trier High School. “These schools that had these suicides, some of them need to really step up to the plate and do more,” Meyers said. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents, and Meyers believes the best way to prevent deaths is to train other teens to look for the signs. That’s the goal behind Elyssa’s Mission, the not-for-profit organization Elyssa’s friends and family …
Thursday, February 23, 2012
A portion of the sale of each book, "A Snow Day for Hannah," is donated to the Boys & Girls Club.
Kenilworth native Linda Petrie Bunch has been a photographer all her life, a passion fueled by her experience working on the yearbook at New Trier High School. So when she got a new Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, Petrie Bunch wound up taking thousands of pictures of her. The result became the pages of A Snow Day for Hannah, a children’s book about a dog’s winter adventure that Petrie Bunch published in October. “The story sort of popped right out of the pictures,” she said. “I put the images together and wrote a story to go with them.” Earlier: Former Buffalo Bills Coach Marv Levy Shares Insights The book was originally meant just for her three grandchildren, but good response led her to think bigger and try to publish the book. “That’s been …
Friday, February 17, 2012
Liv for a Cure has raised $290,000 for research and drug trials at Children’s Memorial Hospital.
When Lisa Tomassetti’s daughter, Livvy, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in utero in 1999, finding a cure for the disease became not just a personal cause, but one that she would share with her community. “We realized that we had to do our part as far as fundraising for a cure for the disease,” Tomassetti said. She started by participating in fundraisers for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But Tomassetti decided she wanted more control over where her money went. In 2002, she founded her own not-for-profit organization, Liv for a Cure. Tomassetti grew up in Wilmette, and reached out to her alma matter, Regina Dominican High School, for help. “I contacted them shortly after Livvy was born, and they embraced the cause,” Tomassetti said. The…