Good News Sunday: Buffalo Grove artist teaches neighborhood kids how to paint

  • Lifelong artist Carol Keene bonds with neighborhood children by conducting art lessons outside her Buffalo Grove townhouse.

    Lifelong artist Carol Keene bonds with neighborhood children by conducting art lessons outside her Buffalo Grove townhouse. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/4/2021 9:09 AM

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

A skilled painter takes a palette of diverse colors and expertly blends them into a beautiful work of art. Lifelong artist Carol Keene is doing that with the families in her Buffalo Grove neighborhood.

 

What could have become a summer focused on the differences between a 74-year-old white woman and her young immigrant neighbors has blossomed into outdoor community painting lessons where everyone's voice is heard and respected.

Sitting at her window this spring while she recuperated from what doctors suspect was COVID-19, Keene watched dozens of kids in the neighborhood, many of them recent immigrants, riding bikes and scooters and playing in the street as the weather got warmer.

"She would wave to me," says Revathy Rajeev, a 12-year-old girl who recently arrived from India and is living in an aunt's house in the neighborhood.

As Keene got to know Revathy and other young neighbors, she showed them artwork she had done, and soon, she found herself teaching the kids how to paint.

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That first lesson on a blistering hot day drew about 20 kids. They worked together to create a beautiful landscape painting, which Nitin, 9, and his sister Nethra, 6, brought to parents Pradeep Balakrishnan and Kiruthika Senthilkumar to hang in their home for a week, before it got passed this week to the home of young artists Shrimani and Koshol.

"Nobody volunteers to do this kind of thing. It's wonderful," said mom Pinkie Subudhi, as she leaned against a tree to watch her son Raj, 12, and daughter Rishita, 7, paint with Keene.

"I'm having fun with all my friends, sitting down and learning," Raj says. "It's very nice to learn together because the pandemic kept us isolated."

For the full story, click here.

Storm chasers, police aid Woodridge kennel owner after tornado

Sue Kushta, owner of Dogtastic Fun in Woodridge, is caring for dogs in her Darien home after a tornado damaged her boarding and day care business. The dogs were rescued with the help of storm chasers.
Sue Kushta, owner of Dogtastic Fun in Woodridge, is caring for dogs in her Darien home after a tornado damaged her boarding and day care business. The dogs were rescued with the help of storm chasers. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After a punishing tornado blew through town on a Sunday night, Sue Kushta of Woodridge raced through debris-laden streets, fearful of what had happened to the 11 dogs staying in her boarding kennel in an office park off Lemont Road.

It's her livelihood, but it's not just a job. Kushta loves dogs under her care like her own.

Sue Kushta, owner of Dogtastic Fun in Woodridge, is caring for dogs in her Darien home after a tornado damaged her boarding and day care business. The dogs were rescued with the help of storm chasers.
Sue Kushta, owner of Dogtastic Fun in Woodridge, is caring for dogs in her Darien home after a tornado damaged her boarding and day care business. The dogs were rescued with the help of storm chasers. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"They're our customers' babies, but they're also our babies," Kushta said through tears.

Darien police Sgt. Nick Skweres, who happens to be one of her customers, found out Kushta was trying to get around road closures to reach the dogs. He called an officer to help Kushta find a clear path.

Storm chasers picked up police scanner chatter about the kennel, Dogtastic Fun, and showed up to assist. Curtis Lergner of Chicago & Midwest Storm Chasers and his team helped Kushta retrieve the dogs from their crates and lead them to safety in the middle of the night, illuminated only by the blinking lights of emergency vehicles.

The good news? All 11 of the dogs were OK.

For the full story, click here.

Seniors' virtual visits with AU students bridges generations

GreenFields resident Perry Barham visits via Zoom with Aurora University students. Barham is a Navy veteran, who connected with an Aurora University student who is also a Navy veteran. They plan on getting together in-person now that COVID guidelines are loosening up.
GreenFields resident Perry Barham visits via Zoom with Aurora University students. Barham is a Navy veteran, who connected with an Aurora University student who is also a Navy veteran. They plan on getting together in-person now that COVID guidelines are loosening up. - Courtesy of GreenFields of Geneva

A partnership between the lifestyles team at GreenFields of Geneva senior living community and the Therapeutic Recreation Program at Aurora University has resulted in benefits for participants of all ages.

The university's program, with 50 students, is the second-largest in Illinois. Students have the opportunity to become Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists.

In 2019, Julie Jug, manager of lifestyles at GreenFields, reached out to Aurora University to coordinate an internship with students to assist her while learning about senior living. But during COVID-19, visitors to GreenFields were suspended, resulting in potential isolation, not only for the residents but also for the students who were participating in virtual learning.

GreenFields resident Perry Barham visits via Zoom with Aurora University students. Barham is a Navy veteran, who connected with an Aurora University student who is also a Navy veteran. They plan on getting together in-person now that COVID guidelines are loosening up.
GreenFields resident Perry Barham visits via Zoom with Aurora University students. Barham is a Navy veteran, who connected with an Aurora University student who is also a Navy veteran. They plan on getting together in-person now that COVID guidelines are loosening up. - Courtesy of GreenFields of Geneva

"We are known for being an experiential program, so we set about identifying something that would be helpful for students and the seniors," said Kristen Johnson, an associate professor of the program at Aurora University.

"Recreation in a virtual format presented the possibility for a win-win environment.

"We created a life stories program. Students designed four live interview sessions with individual residents that were conducted via Zoom. The students would ask questions about the residents' childhoods, adolescence, careers, hobbies, etc. The seniors got to reminisce about their childhoods and tell the younger generation their stories."

There were some incredibly touching stories.

"One of the students, who is a Navy veteran, connected with a resident who is also a Navy veteran. At the end of the program, the resident was crying because he would miss the student so much. The student decided that he's going to take the resident fishing because it's an activity they both enjoy," Johnson said.

For the full story, click here.

• Good News Sunday will run each weekend. Please visit dailyherald.com/newsletters to sign up for our Good News Sunday newsletter.

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