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updated: 1/3/2014 5:52 PM

Arlington Heights Heart of Gold winners announced

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  • Arlington Heights resident Sam Moser helped lead a campaign to save trees from emerald ash borer rather than removing them.

      Arlington Heights resident Sam Moser helped lead a campaign to save trees from emerald ash borer rather than removing them.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer October 2011

  • Dr. Joseph Favia speaks at the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce installation and recognition celebration in 2010 when he was president of the group. The robe was given to him because the event had a boxing theme.

    Dr. Joseph Favia speaks at the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce installation and recognition celebration in 2010 when he was president of the group. The robe was given to him because the event had a boxing theme.
    Daily Herald file photo/January 2010

  • Debbie Smart shows off a book club selection at Tuscan Market in Arlington Heights.

    Debbie Smart shows off a book club selection at Tuscan Market in Arlington Heights.
    Daily Herald file photo/April 2011

Daily Herald report

Arlington Heights will honor 13 of its residents with its annual Heart of Gold awards that recognize people who "work or live in our community and enrich the quality of life in Arlington Heights through their generous contributions and acts of kindness."

The celebration will be at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, at the DoubleTree Hilton Chicago-Arlington Heights, 75 W. Algonquin Road. Tickets for the event are on sale now for $50 by emailing Nancy Kluz at or calling (847) 368-5104.

The 2014 Hearts of Gold Honorees are:

Mentor: Jim Sanecki

Sanecki is a longtime coach for youth soccer, basketball and volleyball in Arlington Heights and was also a referee with the Arlington Aces soccer program, according to the village.

Sanecki also volunteers his time to help residents at the Arlington Heights Senior Center prepare their tax returns.

He also works on home remodeling projects for seniors and disabled citizens in need, according to a news release, asking that homeowners pay him for the materials, but donating his time.

Best Neighbor: Lois Anderson

Anderson is very involved in her neighborhood and as a PADS volunteer at First United Methodist Church.

"(Anderson) gives the selfless gifts of cards, phone calls, time and words of encouragement to her friends and neighbors. She is the neighborhood 'friendly visitor' who will check in on those who need care, or need a ride for an errand or appointment, or just need someone to check in on them regularly," according to the village release.

She also exudes the same compassion for her church neighbors at First United Methodist, serving as a PADS volunteer, and volunteering for many other services through her church.

Educator: Donna O'Hearn

O'Hearn is a special-education teacher at Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 and the village news release described her as someone who "puts her heart and soul into the education of students."

For more than 30 years, O'Hearn has been a resource for students and families. She will be retiring this year.

"Mrs. O, as she is called by her students, partners with parents to ensure her students get the best possible start in education. Her involvement with students goes far beyond being an educator, and for many she has personally guided them through obstacles to make sure they succeed in every way possible," the release said.

Young at Heart: Joseph Ruane

The Young at Heart Heart of Gold recognizes a senior citizen who actively contributes to the Arlington Heights community. Ruane has lived in Arlington Heights for 48 years, raised four children here and has been nicknamed the "Mayor of North Ridge Avenue" because of his friendliness and willingness to be a resource for his neighbors, according to the news release.

Ruane volunteers his own time to drive senior citizens who are unable to drive to doctor appointments.

He is also very active at St. James Catholic Church where he has worked as a PADS volunteer, song leader and lector over the past four decades.

Heroic: Patrick and Donna Fanning

The Fannings work year-round to provide a happy holiday season to hundreds of needy children through their program, "Operation Christmas."

According to the release, the couple work with churches, nonprofit organizations and shelters to get names and collect donations for needy children all over the Chicago area. Operation Christmas matches donor families with children's gift lists, which include everything from

The Fannings work throughout the year to gather gift items, donations and names of needy children in the Chicago area. Names are given by churches, organizations and shelter directors from the west side of Chicago to Waukegan.

Young Champion: Caitlin Nagle

Nagle, now a junior at John Hersey High School, started volunteering in the community as a 6th grader when she and her dog participated in a program to visit residents of Luther Village.

Since then she has also volunteered with her school's peer tutoring program, with Hersey Super Buddies, which spends time with children with special needs, with the Big Brother/Big Sister program where she spends one lunch hour a week at Miner School, with the Arlington Heights Peer Jury, which helps monitor disputes between juveniles, and with Special Olympics.

Nagle is president for the Class of 2015, and a member of the cross country and track teams.

Volunteer: Debbie Smart

Smart "embodies the spirit of volunteerism, has a can-do spirit and willingness to make a difference," according to the village news release. Smart volunteers through her church, St. John United Church of Christ, organizes the Tuscan Market Book Club events, serves on the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board and served a term on the village's Arts Commission.

Smart also chaired an independent task force that studied the Metropolis Performing Arts Theatre, making suggestions regarding its business model.

Community Spirit: Laurie Taylor and Sam Moser

Taylor and Moser were part of a grass-roots effort to treat village ash trees that were infected with emerald ash borer over the past few years.

The work of Taylor, from the Northgate Civic Association, and Moser, from the Heritage Park Association, led the village to create a 50/50 cost share program to encourage residents to treat their trees with help from the village, rather than have them removed and replaced.

"Both Laurie Taylor and Sam Moser epitomize what the Community Spirit Hearts of Gold is all about -- working on an often thankless, but necessary, project that results in a significant contribution to Arlington Heights," the release said. "Due to their combined efforts, the program now involves the treatment of 1,800 ash trees that are in the village's parkways."

Business Leader: Dr. Joe Favia

Favia, a dentist in Arlington Heights, volunteers time outside of his business to improve Arlington Heights, officials said.

Favia recently offered free treatment to a young boy, who was unable to afford care for a painful infection.

He also is involved in the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce where he served at president in 2010 and helped start the Taste of Arlington Heights.

Additionally, Favia is chair and founder of the Windy City Classic Celebrity Golf Tourney, which has raised more than $1 million for cancer research, the release said.

Kenneth M. Bonder Beautification: Tracy Marchetti

Marchetti, a Westgate Elementary School parent, has worked on transforming the outside areas of the school with no outside funding. She organized school groups and parents to help with landscaping and raised money the donations and bake sales for the cause, according to the release.

She later got grant funding from the district and Lowe's for the project, "transforming the beautification of Westgate school for all to enjoy," the release said.

Pam Stocking Heart of Gold: Paula Ulreich

Ulreich has been the clerk of Wheeling Township since 1981, but has also worked on many projects in Arlington Heights, including as a member of the village's Special Event's Commission.

"Paula Ulreich has been named this year's Pam Stocking honoree for her endless passion in working tirelessly throughout the years on many projects for the Village of Arlington Heights and Wheeling Township," the release said. "Her outgoing spirit, compassion and unending willingness to help, are attributes that make her a fitting honoree for the Pam Stocking Heart of Gold."

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