Ginia Goggio has been on the job as development director of Fox Valley Hands of Hope for about a month, but she's already getting a good idea of what makes the organization click.
"What has impressed me the most about the organization is that the volunteers are so dedicated to it -- and we offer our services for free," Goggio said. "That's phenomenal to me."
In its efforts to provide comfort in the last days of life, and give bereavement counseling to children and adults, Fox Valley Hands of Hope is a different animal than the one Goggio came from, having worked for the Joint Commission for Hospital Accreditation in Oak Brook.
And she comes at a good time, as Hands of Hope is hosting its major fundraiser of the year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, May 26, at Q Center in St. Charles.
The "Garden Party" will feature a lunch and fashion show, and silent and live auctions for the expected crowd of 800 or more attendees. St. Charles shops Jeans & A Cute Top, and Chic Boutique, will stage the fashion show.
Those interested in attending should stop at the agency at 200 Whitfield Drive, call (630) 232-2233 or visit online to purchase tickets, which are $70 each.
"I'm very excited for the event," Goggio said. "Others keep telling me you have to see it to believe, so I'm really looking forward to it."
Based on the popularity of similar fashion show luncheons for ladies, this figures to be an enjoyable way to spend part of a Friday for those who attend.
Fox Valley Hands of Hope has been carrying its name for two years now, having changed it from Fox Valley Hospice when state regulations dictated that any organization with hospice in its name had to have a full-time nurse on duty 24/7.
"For a small nonprofit like we are, it (full-time nurses) wasn't feasible," Goggio said. "The name has changed, but it's the same mission."
A young composer:
It's not completely clear as to what qualifies one as a "prodigy," but 10-year-old Marilyn Gans of Batavia certainly has to be heading that way.
And her music composition instructor, Carol Hoepe, knows she is nurturing a special talent when working with Marilyn.
Marilyn earned a gold medal in the Carol Klose/Hal Leonard Composition Competition last fall in her age division in an event for musicians and composers across the country.
"Marilyn was in the youngest division for elementary students, and she was a couple of years younger than most of the other kids competing," Hoepe said. "Marilyn is very, very talented."
She'll be playing some of her compositions on piano today at the Wheaton College Memorial Chapel, accompanied by Barbara Farley, a music instructor at Wheaton College, on violin.
She's been focusing on compositions based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, delivering three musical pieces -- "Nevermore," "Conversations with Usher" and "Kingdom by the Sea."
Hoepe, at 77 years old, has been teaching piano since she was 18 and, for the past 12 years, has added composition to her offerings.
She has seen plenty of talented Batavia students prosper, but she calls composition "a very challenging subject" for most.
"I've had many talented students; two right now graduating from high school with majors in music, and I am so proud of them," said Hoepe, who teaches out of her home in Batavia and has a master's degree in composition from the American Conservatory of Music.
"There are no right answers or wrong answers in composition," Hoepe added. "But Marilyn is a very special child. She just hears the music and plays it, and she is now learning how to put it on paper."
Fill up on burgers:
For any readers who missed it a couple of weeks ago, I learned that we eat a lot of hamburgers in this country -- enough to average out to three hamburgers a week for every person.
My question was if you were going to eat three burgers a week, which three local spots would get your business?
Readers answered in droves, and here's a quick recap of what they had to say.
Mark Synder of Geneva said Blue Goose hamburgers on his own grill are at the top of his list, followed by Portillos and Stockholm's. Right behind those, he chose Egg Harbor's Southwest Burger.
Some readers just mentioned a single favorite place that they felt others might not know about -- The Urban Counter in St. Charles, and a place called The Grumpy Goat on McLean Boulevard in Elgin.
Christina Rawson and Susan McKowen both chose Burger Local, Barrel & Rye and Culvers. Rawson also agreed with my comment that I missed the White Castle in Batavia. (Many other readers chimed in with similar feelings -- if White Castle ever wants to reconsider.)
Many others chose Burger Local as well, but Nobel House and Five Guys in Geneva also tallied some comments.
Ultimately, the reality is that we like our burgers in this country, and we don't lack for having places to chow down good ones around here.
Those who have made the Two Guys and Free Spaghetti meals a part of their routine on the fourth Sundays of each month probably know this already, but for those who have not, take note.
Because of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the free spaghetti dinner instead takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at the St. Charles Episcopal Church.
The spaghetti dinner returns to its regular schedule on June 25 at the church, 994 N. Fifth Ave.
Adopt some paws:
It's not too early to circle your calendar for the Festival of the Fox event on June 11 in downtown St. Charles.
And it's definitely not too soon to give this some thought: If you've ever considered adopting a rescue animal, the It's All About the Paws organization is holding its third annual adoption event during the festival.
The organization says it raised close to $5,000 and had more than 40 dogs adopted the last two years at this event.
In hopes of exceeding last year's donations of $1,500, the organization is seeking donations in advance on its GoFundMe page or the event's Facebook page. Search "It's All About the Paws" to find these sites.