For more than 20 years, HandsOn Suburban Chicago has been recognizing local volunteers and their accomplishments through the annual Impact Awards.
The 2014 Volunteer Recognition & Impact Awards breakfast was held April 30 at the Metropolis Ballroom of Arlington Heights, where HOSC recognized six volunteers and volunteer programs for outstanding service.
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• Emerging Leader Award: Jess Streepy, One Day's Wages & NWSRA Special Olympics.
• Community Champion Award: Lori Nowacki, Palatine Opportunity Center.
• Lead with Experience Award: Alvin Loesel, Escorted Transportation Service NW.
• Military Service Member Award: Irwin Borchew, The Center of Concern.
• Business 2 Community Award: Nico Curdumi, with Google Affiliate Network.
• New Volunteer Program of the Year: Marvin Keeling, Sylvia Smaga and Rob Malnik from the Keeling Family Foundation's VetTech.US.
Award recipients were nominated by local nonprofit organizations and voted on by a selection committee comprised of local nonprofit leaders and HandsOn Suburban Chicago board members.
Kevin O'Connell, president of the board, said that giving to your community has unbeatable rewards.
"Volunteerism is a way to feel good about yourself, learn new skills and be a good example to your kids," he told the audience of about 200, which included Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes and Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek.
Irwin Borchew, the recipient of the Military Service Award, was pleased to have his daughters and wife witness him being honored.
"It is a moment they will remember for many years to come," said Borchew.
Christine Smith, executive director of HandsOn Suburban Chicago, said the 2014 nominees account for 10,318 hours of volunteer service, which translates into more than $232,000 worth of work.
Jess Streepy, 13, of Palatine is the youngest winner. For four years she has been making hair clips, scarves and headbands that she sells at craft fairs and online for a nominal amount. Her proceeds go to One Day's Wages, a charity working in the Horn of Africa.
Jess's project with One Day's Wages has been to dig wells in poor communities in Ethiopia and Somalia.
Those little hair decorations have resulted in a big donation -- $4,000. It costs about $500 to dig each well.
Jess has never been to Africa, but in her mind she sees the difference her small charity has made.
"I picture people being healthier, not having to travel so many miles for fresh water," she says.
Her website is www.onedayswages.org/jessstreepy.