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updated: 12/3/2013 3:33 PM

Wheaton volunteer stands out as someone who gets things done

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  • Wheaton resident and volunteer Laurie Swanson Oberhelman is energized by volunteering and leading educational efforts throughout the city.

       Wheaton resident and volunteer Laurie Swanson Oberhelman is energized by volunteering and leading educational efforts throughout the city.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Laurie Swanson Oberhelman is proud of the city's efforts in adopting the Army's 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

       Laurie Swanson Oberhelman is proud of the city's efforts in adopting the Army's 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton's annual Stuff-a-Truck event to generate food for those in need is one of the many community events in which Laurie Swanson Oberhelman plays a key role.

      Wheaton's annual Stuff-a-Truck event to generate food for those in need is one of the many community events in which Laurie Swanson Oberhelman plays a key role.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Laurie Swanson Oberhelman has taken on leadership roles in Wheaton's Make A Difference Day events that give residents a chance to help others in need.

      Laurie Swanson Oberhelman has taken on leadership roles in Wheaton's Make A Difference Day events that give residents a chance to help others in need.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • When Wheaton leaders were considering a mural to celebrate the city's diversity, they turned to Laurie Swanson Oberhelman for help.

      When Wheaton leaders were considering a mural to celebrate the city's diversity, they turned to Laurie Swanson Oberhelman for help.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

You need a truck stuffed with 40,000 pounds of food for the local pantry? Laurie Swanson Oberhelman already is working on it.

A mural to celebrate your city's diversity? She knows just the guy.

Someone to lead Make A Difference Day? She's done it.

It's that can-do spirit and her seemingly endless reserves of energy that make folks in Wheaton thankful to have Swanson Oberhelman not only as a resident, but as one of their lead volunteers.

Swanson Oberhelman heads the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce's Stuff-a-Truck event and co-chairs the Community Relations Commission's Make A Difference Day event. Her role on the commission also has her coordinating community outreach to Wheaton's adopted 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army.

"Laurie gives us all an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment to have on our team," Mayor Michael Gresk said. "If you have a task, she can do it. And if she can't do it herself, there is no one better at rallying people around her to get things done."

Swanson Oberhelman's work is most evident at the People's Resource Center in Wheaton. The center's food pantry is an annual beneficiary of the Stuff-a-Truck event.

"Laurie's efforts have made a world of difference to our organization and all of the folks who are hungry in our community," said Kim Perez, executive director of the resource center. "Her innovation and leadership is certainly a testament to who she is and her commitment to truly making a difference in her community."

A wife, mother of two teenagers and small-business owner, where does she find the time and energy?

"I follow my heart. If something looks like it would be fun or helpful, I try to do it, even if it means getting up early, going to bed late, or both," she said. "I am naturally energized doing things that come from the heart and have an impact that teach, lead or heal."

She's quick to share credit for her many accomplishments.

"I wouldn't be able to do any of this without my husband, Dave. We've been together since 1986 and he's stood behind me no matter what crazy project I'm doing," she said. "He lets me go without making me feel bad if I don't have dinner on the table. He's always just been a huge support."

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