For the 26th year in a row, Schaumburg Tuesday recognized the nonsalaried lifeblood of the community at its Volunteer of the Year Awards Luncheon at Chandler's Banquets.
"Volunteers make Schaumburg work," Mayor Al Larson said. "They are the heart and soul of our community."
This year there were 11 nominees in the adult individual category, five nominees in the youth individual category and seven nominees in the volunteer organization.
The keynote speaker was lifelong Schaumburg resident Erin Merryn, the force behind "Erin's Law" which aims to require age-appropriate sexual abuse awareness programs in all 50 states.
The law has already been passed in five states including Illinois and will be introduced in the legislatures of at least 12 more this year.
Merryn talked not only about her current volunteerism for this cause, but all the volunteer opportunities she pursued in high school and beyond that lifted her spirit and helped her to forgive those who had harmed her.
"Money doesn't buy happiness ... happiness comes from those who serve," Merryn said. "Without people like you, we wouldn't have the services we do in Schaumburg. And I can tell I'm in a room filled with happy people."
This year, Harold Sterling was the recipient of the adult individual award, Isha Jog of the youth individual award and Sons and Daughters of Italy in America the recipient of the volunteer organization award.
Harold Sterling, a Schaumburg resident since 1972, has been a member of the Village of Schaumburg Committee on Aging since 2010. He volunteers with many Schaumburg organizations which include: Schaumburg Park District Senior Center to assist with health promotion activities, Schaumburg Police Department Crime Prevention and Forensics' Department to assist in keeping disabled residents safely maintained in their homes.
Sterling has coordinated services for members of this population who were identified as hoarders. When unable to recruit volunteers, he single-handedly worked every week for four months to make their homes livable. He also delivered weekend Meals on Wheels on regular basis for needy Schaumburg residents.
Sterling's community involvement as an Illinois Traffic Safety Leader has made him a volunteer member of this organization to develop programs in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Department of Aging, Secretary of State and AARP to develop driver awareness programs.
He has volunteered more than 10,000 hours to promote public safety and the quality of life for Schaumburg residents.
Isha Jog is an 18-year-old senior at Hoffman Estates High School. As the DARE America Illinois Youth Advisor, she is passionate about encouraging elementary school students to stay drug and alcohol free and live a nonviolent lifestyle.
As the former Miss Northern Suburbs' Outstanding Teen 2012, Jog is an active spokesmodel for the Children's Miracle Network and the U.S. Army.
Last year she founded "Holiday Heroes," a nonprofit teen volunteer group that performs community service projects during several holidays throughout the year. She collected over 2,000 Valentine's Day cards and goodies for the senior citizens at Friendship Village, distributed all 500 canned goods to the Willow Creek food pantry as part of her Halloween Against Hunger campaign, served dinner and taught dance to at-risk children at a youth center on Christmas Day, and on National Read Across America Day she organized Dr. Seuss motivational reading presentations in three District 54 schools.
Jog became a cultural ambassador for Indian culture through the nonprofit organization called "Indian Dance School." With this title, she has performed at charity dinners and fundraisers at 152 different venues in the Chicago area and around Schaumburg, educating the American public on the classical art of Indian dance.
As a busy high school senior, Jog is a member of varsity forensics, Orchesis dance team, regional and state champion of the Business Professionals of America, and a student leader in SADD Club (Students Against Destructive Decisions).
Sons and Daughters of Italy in America
People live busy lives and find it hard to volunteer and help in their community. For an organization to have stand out members among nonprofits, the organization must be filled with people of character willing to commit themselves to its goal of helping others in need.
SADIA is a group of dedicated members who give with their heart to their community. This heartfelt giving began in SADIA's early years as one of the first organizations to establish Schaumburg's Septemberfest community festival, which has become a regional event.
For each agency SADIA supports, SADIA's assistance comes from a dedicated group of volunteers who organize fundraising events throughout the year. SADIA characterizes a volunteer organization that strongly believes in assisting the community with its efforts.
SADIA members are very passionate about its ongoing commitment to give to those in need. SADIA volunteers are willing to give back to those in need in the community where they reside and work.
SADIA offers the community the hope of a brighter future with a chance to obtain scholarships and with provision of compassionate care that is needed for those with disabilities to live a fulfilling life.