Breaking News Bar
updated: 5/14/2011 11:42 AM

Lisle celebrates its Pillar Award winners

Success - Article sent! close
  • Coach Jennifer Pomatto, second from right, and the Lisle High School girls varsity softball team will receive a Pillar Award Monday in Lisle for encouraging Anne Hamilton, center, a developmentally disabled sixth-grader, to participate as team manager.

    Coach Jennifer Pomatto, second from right, and the Lisle High School girls varsity softball team will receive a Pillar Award Monday in Lisle for encouraging Anne Hamilton, center, a developmentally disabled sixth-grader, to participate as team manager.
    Courtesy of Jennifer Pomatto


The Pillar Awards in Lisle are a unique benchmark for acts of kindness.

Each recipient chose to do good deeds with no thought of being recognized, much less honored. The action was just a decent, helpful and selfless thing to do.

The Lisle Community Character Alliance recognizes honorees for demonstrating that good character does indeed count.

Since the establishment of the Pillar Awards in 2004, LCCA has honored 106 individuals and groups. Monday night, at the Lisle village board meeting, seven additional individuals and one group will step forward to receive their Pillar Award pin and certificate. Each story is a reason to celebrate.

Troy Carlson

Troy Carlson will receive the Pillar Award for Citizenship for helping stranded motorists in the blizzard last winter. His assistance helped the Lisle Police Department by pulling individuals as well as several of the police department's own vehicles out of snowdrifts.

Because road conditions were so bad, the Lisle resident, who has a plow on his truck, often helped when tow trucks could not respond.

In one case, a vehicle spun sideways on Maple Avenue at I-355, closing the road to all westbound traffic. No tow truck was able to get to the area. Carlson freed the car from an accumulating snow drift to reopen the street.

Kathleen McTighe

Kathleen McTighe is passionate about taking care of the environment. The fourth-grade teacher at Schiesher Elementary School can trace her convictions to her nature-loving family and an environmental film she saw in elementary school.

"Kids really do care, and get excited when we do things to help the environment," McTighe said. "SCARCE in Glen Ellyn has been a wonderful resource helping me do my job."

For more than 25 years, McTighe has taught workable solutions to her students. Her classes collect can pop tops for Ronald McDonald House, sell T-shirts for the Earth Foundation and create art with reusable items. Her methods include "Be Nice -- Use Me Twice" boxes, classroom Green Captains and year-end locker cleanups.

In the first year McTighe organized a locker cleanup, 700 pounds of "trash" was reduced to only 7 pounds. All the rest was recycled.

For her tireless dedication to conservation, McTighe will receive the Pillar of Responsibility.

George Norris

George Norris will receive the Pillar of Citizenship in the adult category. The 35-year resident of Lisle says it is natural for him to want to help.

During last winter's storms, Norris was often the first person out on his block with his snowblower. After clearing his own drive and sidewalks, he continued down the street helping neighbors.

In one particular heavy snowstorm that stopped most moving vehicles and caused cancellations of most activities, Norris even plowed a path across the street so he could help neighbors on that side of the street dig out.

Neighbors say that when the plows came down the block and left snow along driveways, Norris used his trusty snowblower to clear the ends of driveways.

In spring, Norris is once again helping with the neighborhood clean-up efforts.

Lisle High girls

The Pillar for Caring in the group category will go to Jennifer Pomatto and the Lisle High School girls varsity softball team, who created a winning situation involving team manager Anne Hamilton.

Pomatto approached her team about having Anne, 12, as part of the team. With their enthusiastic response, the varsity head coach and math instructor at the school then asked Anne's mother if her developmentally disabled daughter would like to help.

"We've never had a sixth-grade manager before," Pomatto said. "But we have a great group of girls and they were excited to have Anne included."

Pomatto said she has always stressed to her team that softball is a game and, yes, they want to win, but they also are student athletes, and as such are held to a higher standard as positive role models.

"Our girls have learned so much from Anne," Pomatto said. "It opens up our girls' eyes to the unique situations we all have and to look beyond any differences. Anne is a joy to have in the program."

Shane Prymicz and Marissa Herper

Shane Prymicz and Marissa Herper are diligent recyclers. When they realized their condominium community did not have a recycling plan in place, the two Lisle residents found a helpful friend in another section of Lisle and created a mutual arrangement. Every Monday evening, the two women bag and box their own recycling and drive it over to leave at the curb of their friend for the morning pickup.

Since this arrangement started, Prymicz and Herper have looked into how they can get recycling at their own condominium. Although not completely functional at this time, they will work on the plan until they have it set up so they no longer will have to rely on their friend's cooperation to recycle. The benefit of convenient recycling also will allow all the condo residents to do their part, too.

For their ongoing efforts, Prymicz and Herper will each receive the Pillar of Responsibility in the adult category.

Patricia Sendlak

Lisle resident Patricia Sendlak is a good shopper. During the past seven years, the language arts teacher at St. Joan of Arc Elementary School has purchased hundreds of warm winter coats to give to those in need.

Last year alone, she purchased 150 coats and jackets for children in sizes birth to 12 years. Everything then goes to the Sharing Connections Furniture Bank in Downers Grove for distribution.

Sendlak's efforts began when she heard of a young boy who was excited to receive a shirt with a tag on it.

"I thought, 'wouldn't it be nice to get something new?'" Sendlak said. "So I just got fixated on brand-new winter coats and little buntings for babies to keep children warm."

Over the years, friends, neighbors and co-workers have given Sendlak money to purchase coats. She is overwhelmed at the generosity of others and it encourages her to be even more diligent to get the best quality and quantity for the money.

"The good feeling impacts the child who gets the new coat, as well as the parent, who is pleased their child has something warm to wear," Sendlak said.

LCCA also feels good to award Sendlak the Pillar of Caring for her efforts.

George Zak

George Zak will receive the Pillar of Citizenship in the adult category. A Lisle resident since 1948, Zak is a natural cheerleader, encouraging others to "Stay young and get involved."

A month shy of 95, Zak volunteered to deliver Meals-on-Wheels five days a week for 20 years. He made his daily deliveries always with a warm smile and friendly joke.

Thirty-five years ago, upon his retirement, Zak and his late wife, Helen, began the St. Joan of Arc Golden Agers Club. He continues to be involved with the group that enriches, enlightens and entertains members and their guests. For years, as president he planned events, trips, luncheons and get-togethers to make sure seniors were involved and enjoying life.

Zak would like to use his space in this column to encourage seniors.

"Let's go, join our group."

Contact the St. Joan of Arc parish office for details on the Golden Agers. It is worth getting involved just to meet this dynamo.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. Email her at