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updated: 4/19/2014 6:53 PM

TriCity Family Services honors its quiet contributors

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  • Mike Dixon prepares his photographs of Ukraine for an exhibit at the library in Kerch, Crimea, in late December 2013, a month after the start of the revolution.

    Mike Dixon prepares his photographs of Ukraine for an exhibit at the library in Kerch, Crimea, in late December 2013, a month after the start of the revolution.
    Courtesy of Mike Dixon


When you've been a journalist in the Tri-Cities for nearly 40 years, you get a good idea of who qualifies as generous contributors who do their good deeds without a lot fanfare or hoopla.

In short, plenty of people around here fly under the radar of the media -- or even social networks -- spotlight because helping others simply becomes their lifestyle.

TriCity Family Services is hitting the bull's-eye of recognition by giving those types of people their due next Saturday night with special honors at the agency's annual fundraiser benefit.

Dr. John Mason and his wife, Jane, are honorary chairs of the sold-out "Silver Linings" event at Lincoln Inn in Batavia.

Mason deserves this kind of recognition on behalf of Dickens, Mason, Kissell DDS in St. Charles, which has supported TriCity Family Services as well as various service clubs and other organizations. The agency is recognizing Mason and his wife for their 22 years of service that run the gamut from financial to time commitments.

Mason, in fact, has offered pro bono dental work for TriCity Family Services clients in critical need.

In addition to naming honorary chairs, the agency will deliver its Golden Heart award to others who have gone out of their way for the agency and local residents.

And then there's Judy and Dudley Burgess, whom the agency says "are constantly giving." That sums it up quite well.

The first time I met these two, probably about 30 years ago, they were volunteering at or participating in the agency's golf outing. I have seen them at various charitable events ever since.

They have helped form different boards for the agency, including the Friends of TriCity Family Services, a vital arm of volunteers and organizers.

Dudley shares his love of the outdoors by also volunteering as a group leader for the agency's Wilderness Challenge, taking young people into northern Minnesota and Canada.

The agency will also express its gratitude to two organizations that have helped it thrive over the years -- Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley and Congregational Church of Batavia.

Volunteers scarce there: My first impression was that Mike Dixon looked quite good, really healthy in fact. If I had spent the last three years in Ukraine, I'm guessing I would look pretty beat up simply from being away from my American lifestyle so long.

Not so for Dixon. The former St. Charles architect has been back home for a few months after finishing his stint with the U.S. Peace Corps in Ukraine -- and making it out of a country undergoing a revolt in the nick of time.

Dixon was decked out in Cossack clothing to give a recent presentation to the Tri-Cities Exchange Club. He's been making the rounds to local service clubs, which is ironic, considering where he has spent the last few years.

"People in Ukraine always asked me what I was doing there and why I would volunteer to help people I don't know," Dixon said. "They understand helping family members and friends, but not people they don't know. They just don't have volunteers like we do in the U.S."

Another point in Dixon's interesting presentation stuck with me. "You don't want to get pulled over by the police in Ukraine," Dixon said. "Unlike here, where a policeman might help you if you had a flat tire, the police there question you and they want money," he added. "It's pretty corrupt."

Riding for animals: That rugged winter we just endured must have been tough for those who can't wait to get on their motorcycles and roar across our highways.

They can make up for lost time and help the Anderson Animal Shelter at the same time. Granted, it should be plenty warm by the time the Paws and Claws Unleashed charity drive takes place June 1 at the Fox River Harley Davidson location in St. Charles.

But it's not too early to mention it and remind motorcycle and animal enthusiasts to keep it on their calendars. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Harley site on Randall Road, with the first bikes heading out on the 70-mile ride at 10 a.m., and the last bikes out at 11:30 a.m.

New shops: Those who frequent the Shoppes at Windmill Place on Randall Road in Batavia to go to Jewel or patronize other businesses might have noticed the Clothes Mentor and New Uses storefronts.

The resale shops opened about a month ago in terms of buying items, but they will begin selling the items next Saturday.

Franchise owner Elaine Kruger will operate Clothes Mentor, which will feature women's clothing for all sizes, including maternity clothing, and shoes and purses.

New Uses is the sister store to Clothes Mentor and will specialize in furniture and knickknack-type stuff.

Those who take in items that appeal to the shop owners are paid immediately.

Great history lesson: A clean, new information plaque and stand near the little boathouse in Fabyan Forest Preserve provides an interesting look into the past of that portion of the Fabyan Villa.

It tells the story of the Fabyan riverfront from more than 100 years ago.

The Fabyan Villa along the Fox River makes for a fascinating stroll into the past, even if you don't know much of the background about Col. George Fabyan and his estate along the west side of the river.

It is especially nice at this time of year when the purple scilla blooms, turning the rolling hills near the Fabyan museum into a blue carpet.

Earned his grant: We were out of town for a few days last week, so I have to catch up on a shout-out. It was nice to see that Geneva High School teacher Chris Pawlak earned a $2,500 grant for his classroom through a Farmers Insurance program called "Thank a Million Teachers."

Pawlak had to submit a proposal for the chance to win a grant, and apparently Farmers liked what it saw.

In total, Farmers says it will commit $1 million in donations to classrooms across the country this year.

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