The village of Mount Prospect inducted its 2013 Shining Stars last Friday, another class of amazing, selfless residents and business owners who always have time for others.
Here are their inspiring stories.
Champion for Youth, Tina Kozil
This award is for an individual whose job it is to enrich the life of a young person. Attentive, loving, caring, warm, patient and creative -- these are a few of the words used to describe Tina Kozil. "Miss Tina" greets her preschoolers at River Trails Park District each day with a smile on her face and a cheerful "Good morning!" Parents have been known to enroll their children in multiple classes that Miss Tina teaches; they believe she gives kids the foundation for future success. She combines discipline with freedom and lets the students develop their own persona. Several parents of children with challenging needs said she works with the kids on social skills, helps make them feel safe and makes strides that otherwise would be difficult to accomplish. As one mother put it, "To my daughter, my husband and I, Miss Tina is the MOLD all teachers should be from."
Volunteer's Volunteer, Carol Tortorello
Carol Tortorello is a 52-year resident of Mount Prospect and for the last 22 years has volunteered in town. She started in 1991 with Northwest Tax Watch; then it was with the monthly village blood drive where she greets donors and then makes sure they are refueled and rehydrated once they have given blood. Carol served on the plan commission for 10 years, participated in the Mount Prospect Citizens Police and Fire academies and joined the Citizens Emergency Response Team CERT in 2004. For the past several years Carol goes to village hall on Mondays between June and October to help package the food that has been delivered from the Mount Prospect Lions Club Farmers Market. Carol is a founding director of the Mount Prospect chapter of Crime Stoppers. On Sundays she gives her time to St. Raymond Catholic Church.
Open Arms Award, Stephanie Johanson and Jodi Bechtold
Stephanie and Jodi are co-founders and co-directors of the Kids Pantry, and have gone from helping a few families three years ago to helping 1,256 children this past October. What started out in a "closet" now fills Christian Life Church's gym. Twice a year everything they have collected is given to families in need. During the six months in between they scour school lost and founds, resale shops, garage sales and donations, collected clothes, shoes, videos, furniture and lots more. Jodi and Stephanie use their own resources and have received assistance from Christian Life Church and the Mount Prospect Lions Club. They are always looking for sponsors to donate money and goods, and volunteers to help organize. The next giveaway will be in May.
Good Better Best Neighbor Award, Rodger Kruse
Rodger was nominated by the daughter of one of his neighbors. We all dream we can stay in our homes as long as possible, but Rodger made this happen for Wally. Rodger was there to clean the furnace, shovel the snow, clean the gutters, and take the trash out. He mowed the lawn and treated the grass when needed. Rodger is a one-man neighborhood watch, checking houses for people when they are away, taking in mail. He served in World War II and is a member of the American Legion and participates in most events, taking pride in the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades.
Rising Star Award, Carolyn Fujara
As a Prospect freshman Carolyn joined the student council, by sophomore year she was the corresponding secretary and junior year Carolyn served as student council president. Knowing she was graduating early her senior year, she moved to treasurer. Carolyn was instrumental in planning homecoming week and helped plan Haunted High School (which gives neighborhood kids a safe environment to trick-or-treat). She attended the Hugh O'Brien Youth leadership conference on behalf of Prospect and the Rotary Youth Leadership conference. Since she was in fifth grade, Carolyn was an assistant teacher in religious education; her sophomore year she taught her own class. Maybe this is why when she grows up Carolyn wants to be an elementary teacher.
Youth Service Award, Jill Galyon
Jill has been involved with St. Mark youth for more than 10 years, volunteering with WOW for preschool to fifth grade, Faith Walk/Confirmation for 6-8 grades, Shine for high school kids, Praise Band, VBS and the Corn Maze Trip. But what really makes an impression is her mission work. Jill has been an adviser and chaperon for Teens Serve, who go to low-income communities. Every three years she chaperones high school kids to a conference in New Orleans that is attended by 30,000 young people. Since the year we attended they have included a service project to parallel the conference, and Jill has led the fundraising efforts for the service project and conference. In more recent years, the youth attending the conference have given support to those that are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Hometown Award, Tom Zamoreus
Since 2009, Tom has been an active volunteer with the Mount Prospect Lions Club farmers market. From June until October, products that the farmers donate are stored at Tom's shop, The Sub Express, until the next morning when they can be delivered to the Mt. Prospect village hall. Tom, even though he is not a member of the Lions Club, makes a big contribution every weekend by providing essential refrigeration space. This program is so important to him that he reorganizes his weekly product purchase so that there is room on the weekends. Tom demonstrates true service over self and hundreds of MP residents benefit from his big heart and smile.
Best Business Partner Award, Michael Davey
Mount Prospect Child Care Center has been a vital business in the community for over half a century. Since Michael Davey took ownership, he has been involved with many organizations -- the library, the chamber and downtown merchants. He has hosted informative sessions and workshops that help educate residents. Michael loves to embrace the community, especially with his "Week of the young child" program to focus attention on the needs of young children and their families. Still, he insists this award is NOT about him, it is about his supportive staff. He believes THEY should be getting the recognition and not him.
Unsung Hero, Betty Barten
"Miss Betty" is a true example of a local Unsung Hero. Living in Mount Prospect for 47 years, she has enjoyed 33 of them driving a school bus. Betty helps young children conquer their anxieties about school especially on that scary first day. Her gentle nature makes each of her riders feel welcomed, loved and accepted. "They are all just a delight," she says of her charges. Her best memories are of the preschoolers and kindergartners who always want to tell her stories. The best part of Betty's job is the children, having a daily routine, the caring teachers and parents. "They are just very nice and thoughtful people," she says.
Star Spangled Banner Award, Bob Fey
Bob Fey is a U.S. Army veteran, serving during the Korean War with the Field Artillery. In only nine years, he achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class, not an easy feat. In Bob's career he also was heavily involved with Air Defense Artillery and guided missiles. He is a past commander of the VFW and for eight years has been the aide of the American Legion and VFW. He is a member of Mount Prospect VFW Post 1337. He is the parade coordinator for the Legion, has been responsible for placing flags on veterans grave sites, and is instrumental in providing funding from American Legion Post 525 and the VFW for the purchase of new armed forces flags that fly at the park district band shell. Bob has been the liaison for the park district since 2001, organizing the Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations.
Beautify Mount Prospect Award, Rainbow Hospice
In 2011 Rainbow Hospice relocated their headquarters to Mount Prospect. Soon after that they approached the village with an idea. This idea took wings by featuring fiber glass butterfly sculptures titled "Promises take Flight," where 64 butterflies were placed in Mount Prospect, Park Ridge and Des Plaines, sponsored by individuals, businesses and community organization. It took at least 50 artists many hours to design and implement their vision. This fundraising effort benefited their Good Mourning program, the most comprehensive family-focused children's bereavement program in Illinois. It offers support services for young people dealing with the loss of a loved one. In 25 years the program has served more than 7,000 children.
There Ought To Be More People Like … Karen Enzenbacher
Karen Enzenbacher has lived in Mount Prospect for almost 30 years. Alone she has raised thousands of dollars for several charities, including Relay For Life, St. Alphonsus Volley for the Cure, The Pink Heels Tour, burn camp "Camp I Am Me," and the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Karen spent hours placing colored hair extensions on just about everyone who participated in the Relay For Life. At burn camp, she worked with young burn survivors who have experienced emotional as well as physical trauma, doing their hair, manicures and helping them out with the latest styles -- all to help them realize that they are truly beautiful. She is a great role model, always willing to lend a hand and is always looking for new ways to help others.