For nearly 20 years, Bill Zelsdorf has been the face of the Dundee Township Visitor's Center, also known as The Depot. His passion lies in planning events that attract people to downtown East Dundee, which is in the midst of a renaissance.
Zelsdorf, 64, a retired musician from Carpentersville who has managed The Depot for three years and as a nonvoting member of its board for 17 years, recently received East Dundee's inaugural community service award, which recognizes outstanding volunteers. He was recognized at a December board meeting and during a November event the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce held at Randall Oaks Golf Club.
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"I was extremely surprised," Zelsdorf said. "I really hope this award goes on for many, many, many years because there so many people who are so well deserving of this award. Obviously, they must have started at the Zs and they're going to work their way backward."
At The Depot, Zelsdorf also runs its farmers market, coordinates seasonal contests, and supervises volunteers who keep the building running smoothly.
"You set the bar high for our future volunteer awards," Village President Lael Miller told Zelsdorf at a recent board meeting.
The Depot, at 319 N. River St. near the Fox River Bike Trail, is also a haven for people seeking shelter from the hot sun and the snow, as it offers heat and air conditioning. In addition to that, hungry and thirsty bikers, walkers and runners can also purchase food and drinks from The Depot, use its restrooms or just pick up maps of the trail and brochures that detail local businesses.
"I know people enjoy coming here and I know that's true because they tell me," Zelsdorf said. "People on the bike trail, whether it's bikers or joggers out for a nice day, they'll stop in here and it's always, 'We're so glad you're here, we're so glad you're open,' and that's only possible because of a volunteer staff."
Zelsdorf is quick to share the credit with The Depot's board of directors and volunteers, since they all share the same vision of improving the village and the township.
The Depot is open year-round. It figures prominently in the annual Dickens in Dundee winter holiday festival and the village has set up an ice rink nearby.
His goal is for The Depot to become one of the catalysts that gets people to see the changes taking place -- such as the Anvil Club renovations -- and proposed improvements as outlined in the village's downtown plan.
"It's really going to be beautiful," Zelsdorf said. "I'm really looking forward to big things. It's really going to open the town up."