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updated: 11/21/2013 11:12 AM

Mount Prospect entrepreneurs help kids in need

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  • Angelika Babich, left, and Maggie Pawelko, both of Mount Prospect, are founders of Swapadventure.

    Angelika Babich, left, and Maggie Pawelko, both of Mount Prospect, are founders of Swapadventure.

  • Angelika Babich, left, and Maggie Pawelko, both of Mount Prospect, are founders of Swapadventure.

    Angelika Babich, left, and Maggie Pawelko, both of Mount Prospect, are founders of Swapadventure.

  • Steve Chen

    Steve Chen

  • Greg Brown

    Greg Brown

  • Adam Naparsteck

    Adam Naparsteck

  • Cheryl Nolden

    Cheryl Nolden

  • Video: Steve Chad


Editors note: The article was updated to correct when Swapadventure was founded.

Angelika Babich and Maggie Pawelko, both of Mount Prospect, have been longtime friends and, coincidentally, mothers to three children each. So they have plenty of clothes, toys and other baby-related items to share. And that natural practice, used among many parents, struck them as a way to create a business that could help children who are less fortunate.

The women developed the idea for Swapadventure about two months ago when Pawelko contacted orphanages in different countries. She hoped to give unwanted or outgrown clothes and items directly to those who couldn't otherwise afford them.

"At first, no one responded," Pawelko said. "And then some just asked for new things or money."

Then they faced overseas shipping costs, which was about $960 to send items to an orphanage in Ghana. The high expense was due to airfare and ground shipping costs and was more than the two of them could afford. Unable to ship goods so far away, they looked for other options.

That's when they organized Swapadventure and started partnering with restaurants and radio stations to help the cause.

They hosted events for parents and relatives at a Chick-fil-A, Bounce Kingdome, and other locations where everyone brought children's items and swapped what they really needed. The restaurants provided coupons or other incentives as part of the event, Babich said.

Whatever was left was donated to an orphanage or other center to help children. In addition, Pawelko recently worked with a Polish radio station to donate children's items to an organization in Poland called Dom Samotnej Matki. Swapadventure also gave items to Family Focus in Evanston, and the Rizal Community Center in Chicago for those impacted in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, they said.

Next, the women are planning their first holiday donation event on Dec. 21 at Victoria in the Park Banquet in Mount Prospect.

"I think we bring a unique service by helping these communities save money," Pawelko said. We also help the children by donating necessities and then we help local businesses by bringing people to their doors."

YouTube co-founder donates to alma mater

Steve Chen, formerly of Prospect Heights and co-founder of YouTube, just donated $1 million to his alma mater, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora. The gift will help fund the construction of a $1.9 million, 6,400-square-foot tech hub. It will provide resources to help students, entrepreneurs, faculty and others in the Fox Valley create ideas for the future. The Daily Herald featured Chen in an interview in 2006, just after he and business partner Chad Hurley sold their video entertainment service, YouTube, to Google Inc. for $1.65 billion. "IMSA helped guide me to the tools and knowledge I needed to develop my ideas into a successful business, but those tools keep evolving," Chen said in a statement. "The Innovation Hub will bring the latest in entrepreneurial incubation to Aurora, the Fox Valley, and the western Chicago suburbs, allowing the Academy to help IMSA students, and even students from across the state, develop their ideas and stretch their inventive minds even more." Chen returned to the campus last spring and spoke with students who were launching their own startups.

New leaders with landscape group

Melisa Bell was appointed to the newly created role of administrative director at The Midwest Ecological Landscape Alliance. She has been financial secretary for MELA for the past year and will continue to serve in that capacity as well. Carol Becker, who announced her retirement, has been executive director for 4˝ years. She will remain with MELA on a limited basis to focus her expertise on fundraising and resource development for the organization. These changes will be marked during a meeting Dec. 5 at Lurvey Landscape Supply in Des Plaines.


Al Lewek, owner & photographer of Lewek Photography & Frame Studio in downtown Glen Ellyn, has been elected to a 2-year term as a director on the Glen Ellyn Historical Society's board of directors.

Advertising veterans Patrick Smith of Aurora and Brian Nash of Oak Park mark the four-year anniversary of their C2 Creative Consulting marketing agency. They have worked with a variety of companies in that time, including Motorola Solutions, DaVita Labs, Homedics, and Hilco Trading. ... And speaking of Motorola Solutions, CEO Greg Brown will be a speaker Nov. 25 at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs program called "China: Rebalancing business Strategy."

St. Charles residents Jean Walsh and Nikki Kozielec have opened a new retail store, One of a Kind Find, 228 W. Main St. in downtown St. Charles, featuring a collection of jewelry, art, furniture and home décor. They're planning a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23 with a 25 percent off sale, raffle and more.

Richard Miller, general manager of the Olive Garden in Bloomingdale, was among restaurant leaders at the company's annual conference who were asked to create a 2-minute video on how they developed their own people, showed a winning spirit, provided excellent service and delighted guests each time they dined at Olive Garden. As a result of Miller's video, Olive Garden received the first "Made by the People" Innovation award from Kaltura, a software company.

Adam Naparsteck is the new vice president of the Industrial Services Brokerage Group at Oakbrook Terrace-based NAI Hiffman. Naparsteck will team with Executive Vice President John Cash and Vice President David Haigh to focus on site search analysis, acquisitions, dispositions and leasing in the western suburbs. ... Steve W. DeHaan is the new president and CEO of Des Plaines-based The International Warehouse Logistics Association. He replaces Joel Anderson, who led the association for more than seven years and has retired.

Roland Smith, the former CEO of Delhaize America, is the new CEO as Office Depot and OfficeMax merge into one company. He mulls where the new company will be based, since OfficeMax was in Naperville and Office Depot in Boca Raton, Fla. He replaces both Neil Austrian, who was CEO of Office Depot, and Ravi Saligram, who was CEO of OfficeMax, who both resigned. ... Cheryl Nolden marks 10 years as a Realtor with Re/Max. She is with Re/Max Professionals Select serving the Naperville region. She is also a certified distressed property expert.

General Manager Jillian McAfee said his Downsize Fitness in Naperville, a gym solely accepting overweight members, recently doubled its size from 2,035 square feet to 4,070 square feet after a weightlifting gym next door closed. Downsize opened July 1. ... Frank Raczon, senior editor of Arlington Heights-based Construction Equipment magazine, took home a 2013 Robert F. Boger Award in the blogs category for "Considering Customer Service," presented during the Construction Writers Association's 55th anniversary annual meeting and awards dinner in Chicago.

Allergist Michael B. Foggs of Chicago was installed as president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at the ACAAI Annual ScientificmMeeting in Baltimore. Foggs is chief of allergy & immunology at Advocate Medical Group of Advocate Health Care and chief medical officer for 540 Protection LLC in Glen Ellyn. ... Sara Smedinghoff of Huntley is the new physical therapy assistant at Adult & Child Therapy Services in Woodstock. ... Sarah PalisiChapin, CEO of Hail Merry Snack Foods, is now on the board of directors for Elgin-based The Middleby Corp.

Chairman, President and CEO Jim Ryan of Grainger in Mettawa led the annual analyst meeting last week at the company's new automated distribution center in Minooka. ... Vice President John Ambrose leads the new Chicago office for Crystal Lake-based Baxter & Woodman Inc. ... Clinical Nurse Liaison Kathy Mrozek received the 2013 Seasons Spirit Award from Rosemont-based Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care.

• There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people that make business work. Send news about people in business to Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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