With downtown Lisle dressed in a spiffy snowmen décor, the Main Street ice skating rink in place and a towering Christmas tree shining bright outside the village hall, all signs say it's time for my year-ending Post Awards.
With no engraved plaques for honorees, and not even a nomination process, the honors are my way to share with readers an insider's look at the rest of the story.
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Most-Effective Public Relations Award
Writing a regular column takes resourceful contacts, and I am fortunate to connect with some of the best.
I award my Most-Effective Public Relations Post honors to Gina Tedesco, public relations manager at the Morton Arboretum, and Phil Brozynski, associate director of public relations at Benedictine University. The two institutions are magnets for drawing both recognition and people to the village.
Tedesco and I first met working on a beekeeper story in 2005. When it comes to knowing the arboretum, she is tops. Her press releases draw attention with clever titles and story ideas. For instance, last week the title was "Holiday boredom buster," subtitled "Yule enjoy the thrill of the hunt."
The information was on the arboretum's annual Yule Log Hunt scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26. The hunt encourages participants to follow clues and riddles to find the hidden log with its big red bow.
The January tradition at the arboretum for 32 years was moved to December to accommodate more visiting relatives this year. New is a self-guided Yule Twig Hunt between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. for young visitors in the Children's Garden.
Since 2002, Brozynski has been a resourceful press writer for Benedictine University. His availability for follow-up questions is exceptional.
Recently, Brozynski sent information on a pancake and sausage breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus for children of all ages. The school's Student Senate will include a complimentary photo, craft area, games, prizes and raffle with each $10 ticket. Children younger than 2 are free. Register by phone at (630) 829-6617 or at ben.edu/santa. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, in Krasa Student Center on the Lisle campus, 5700 College Road.
Another release from Brozynski introduced Sophie, the university police department's first canine unit dog. Although still in training, Sophie will provide a safe environment with her strong sense of smell to detect illegal drugs.
Service to the Community Award
My Post Award to the Lisle Library is for its interest to work with other libraries to better service its community.
In my February column, I reported on the 10 area libraries that pool resources and coordinate the annual Big Read program. The Big Read encourages patrons at all libraries to read the same book, with the goal of promoting reading, sparking discussion and building community.
In its seventh year, our library's representative on the steering committee is Rhonda Snelson, public relations and adult program director.
Each library benefits from sharing the terrific programs and materials, but the patrons really win since we may attend any and all programs at no cost.
For those who would like to ask Santa for the 2011 Big Read selection, Snelson offers an advance tip that the book is "Zeitoun" by Dave Eggers. The program guide will be available in February, and Lisle Library plans to host the first program with a concert by the exuberant Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies.
Willingness to Help Award
I am impressed with this generation of young people. To all those teenagers who raise money, collect canned goods, make blankets and spread good will during this season of giving, I award my Willingness to Help honors.
I was able to report in May and November columns on some amazing teenagers who received Pillar Awards this year from the Lisle Community Character Alliance.
There was Benet Academy student Sabrina Lichon, who started Pennies for Plumbing to help a Chicago school, and Lisle High School student Thomas Mandel, who raised the most dollars in his age group for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life last year.
Naperville North High School students Joe Collins and Matt Bloodgood took it upon themselves to maintain the ice rink in downtown Lisle.
Four teens from Lisle High School returned a large sum of money they found to its rightful owner. Their names bear repeating: Blake Billings, Alison Blunk, Stacy Spangler and Kelsey Swindle.
Recognized in November was Lisle High School student Adam Grego, who followed the National Football League's efforts to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by convincing his football team to wear pink socks.
Teen Heather Nitzki from Lisle Junior High continues to collect Jewel-Osco stamps to purchase pots and pans to give Sharing Connections, a nonprofit organization.
In my column that ran Nov. 29, I wrote that teens have a wonderful, energized, fun-loving spirit. A local service organization, the Lisle Teens with Character, takes on a good-will project while having fun each month. Lisle High School is busy with its 12-Days of Christmas fundraiser and Benet Academy with its traditional Christmas Drive. Both do an enormous amount of good for those in need.
These teens are only a few of the many with impressive accomplishments.
Spring into Action Award
Since 2004, I have had the privilege to revive my green thumb from winter doldrums to write a May column on the Lisle Woman's Club's annual June Garden Gait Walk.
Each selected Lisle gardener graciously tours me around their lovely garden so that I might write my story. I reassure each that I overlook weeds, can picture flowering blooms and ignore piles of wood chips waiting to be spread. I know what it takes to be garden-show ready. So, to all past and future Lisle residents who volunteer their gardens, I award my Spring into Action Award.
I am continually amazed at the diverse and splendid gardens Lisle residents nurture. Each offers a potpourri of gardening ideas that work well in local growing conditions. If anyone wants their garden to be considered for the June 2011 walk, contact a member at email@example.com. All proceeds go to the club's scholarship fund that benefits local students.
To all my readers, may you always have opportunities to learn, a willingness to make a difference and a place to surround yourself in nature's beauty. My best to you and yours for a superb and safe holiday, Joan.
• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.