When Lee Norris finished his career as the Norris Funeral Home director in St. Charles a few years ago, it's not likely he had "construction foreman" down as one of his retirement dreams.
But that's what he's become in a roundabout way, and the folks at Riverwoods Family Campus must be quite happy about it.
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As part of his role on the Fox Valley Christian Action (Riverwoods) board, he has seen the campus along the Fox River north of St. Charles expand with five new cabins for the underprivileged young people who spend their summers there.
Now, work is being done to construct a sixth 40-bunk cabin under Norris' watchful eye.
"This is the first time I was asked to head up the project because other people were swamped," said Norris, of Geneva. "So I've been out there quite a bit this time."
Norris makes sure supplies and construction materials are ordered and arrive on schedule, in addition to recruiting volunteers to help with the construction.
"Volunteers come when they are available," Norris said. "There is a group of older guys who call themselves 'The Geezers' and they come every Thursday."
"The Geezers" have been taking wood from trees that were cut down to make stairways and bunk beds for the cabins, Norris added.
As with any task of this nature, more volunteers are always needed. Getting walls up and doing work inside the cabins keeps everyone busy. Anyone interested in lending a hand should contact Norris at (630) 712-2231 or volunteer coordinator Eli Griffin at (847) 431-3689.
Burge begins recovery: It would be nice to write an item about the Burge family, formerly of Geneva, winning the lottery. Instead, they have been mentioned in this column as victims of unfortunate incidents.
A few years ago I wrote about William Burge, a 1984 graduate of Geneva High School, falling through a wood cover of an abandoned well that he didn't know existed on his property in Los Angeles. After several hours stuck in deep, cold water, neighbors finally heard him and were able to get a rescue effort in gear. He was lucky he didn't die.
Now, Jim "Slim" Burge, a 1988 Geneva High School graduate, was attacked Aug. 10 outside of his home near Rockford. Apparently, Burge yelled out to a driver to slow down in his neighborhood, and the man proceeded to get out of his car and beat and kick Burge to the point he had to be hospitalized with broken bones in his face and damage to his brain. He, too, was lucky he didn't die.
Burge is home now, trying to regain his motor and communication skills, his sister, April Dodd, said.
"He is walking slowly and, with help, speaking in slurred and mumbled words, and is able to feed himself with little help now," Dodd said. "He was able to walk outside this past weekend for the first time since the attack."
Burge was just about to take a job in golf course management in Michigan when this incident occurred and put all of that in doubt -- for now.
Todd Olson, a family friend from Oregon, Ill., is organizing a golf fundraiser for Burge and his family Sept. 28 at Silver Ridge Golf Course. Those who would like to play should contact Olson at (618) 225-9640 or Ginny Miller at (630) 632-4591 by Sept. 20.
"This golf benefit couldn't be a more beautiful expression of the dream we hold for him as he recovers and re-enters the world he once knew," Dodd said.
Donations are also being accepted for the family at aprildodd.com.
Nuclear mosquitoes?: Having neighbors get together on your deck during the evening hours, even with mosquito spray at hand and candles burning nearby, is a dangerous game these days.
The red welts on my arms and legs were a reminder that we are fighting nuclear mosquitoes. I've never seen bites quite this big before. Hopefully, I will be fortunate enough to avoid a case of West Nile out of this deal.
Regardless, these nasty insects are growing stronger for some reason. I suspect the stuff we use to supposedly kill them actually gives them super powers.
A worthy faire: We always make a point to stop by the jewelry faire fundraiser for the Anderson Animal Shelter during the Festival of the Vine in Geneva. The faire takes place Friday through Sunday at the American Legion Hall on South Second Street.
More than 4,000 pieces of donated jewelry will be on display, so my wife likes poking around in there for two reasons -- she loves dogs and might find an interesting piece of jewelry at the same time.
Me? I buy some of the treats they also sell, just to make sure I do my part for the cause.
Some southern soul: It's not that I'm a big fan of Cajun, or soul food as some might call it. But if our city development directors are interested in bringing a different type of restaurant into the area, they should visit Heaven on Seven in downtown Naperville.
I had the opportunity to have lunch there not long ago, and the chicken and waffles dish was delicious. Of course, the main choice of most diners at Heaven on Seven is gumbo.
After all, that's what made chef and owner Jimmy Bannos famous in the Cajun circles.
This is just an interesting place, with excellent food and atmosphere. And it's one that would look quite nice tucked near the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, or River Street in Batavia, or anywhere along State or Third streets in Geneva.