Good News Sunday: Arlington Heights volunteers prepare meals for homeless shelter

Good News Sunday: Arlington Heights volunteers prepare meals for homeless shelter

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

To help honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Arlington Heights Memorial Library offered its patrons an opportunity Monday to give back to the community.

About 30 volunteers joined library staff members in a day of service, preparing meals in the library's Makerplace kitchen for a local PADS homeless shelter.

Two sessions were held in the afternoon, during which attendees ages 12 and older made lunches and dinners for about 30 people who receive shelter on Tuesday nights at the First Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights.

Bag lunches included sandwiches, chips, fruit and granola bars. For dinner, crews made pasta, garlic bread, fresh salad and dessert.

"We're inspired by Dr. King's vision of the 'Beloved Community,' in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger and hate," said Neal Parker, the library's programs and exhibits specialist.

"Programs like this one are a great example of the library's mission, vision and values in action."

For the full story, click here.

Olympic bronze medalist fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad talks about her journey, and the challenges, biases and struggles she has faced as a Black Muslim American woman in sports at Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park last week. Courtesy of Islamic Foundation School

Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad inspires Islamic school students

The excitement was palpable last week when Ibtihaj Muhammad walked into Islamic Foundation School and mosque in Villa Park - among not only its 550 students, but also parents, employees and community members who welcomed the Olympian.

The 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in sabre fencing gave a talk before the entire school community, followed by a book signing of her children's titles "The Proudest Blue" and "The Kindest Red."

The students were in wide-eyed awe of her charisma.

"All week their teachers must have been talking up this event," said Rabia Hussain of Oak Brook, whose three children attend the preschool through 12th grade school. "My son wants to be a fencer now," she said of her first grader, Idris, 6.

Muhammad is the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab, or headscarf, while competing for the United States in the Olympics. While she is an inspiration for Muslim girls worldwide, "boys were just as excited to see her," said Ruby Ramirez, the school's director of communications and special projects.

For the full story, click here.

  Alice Eichhorst, left, a resident at The Vines Senior Homes in Elgin, has a celebratory dance for her 100th birthday with activity director Cathy Vaden during a party in her honor last week. She's lived in Elgin for more than 80 years and used to work at the Elgin Watch Factory and Ackemann's Department Store. Rick West/

100-year old Elgin woman dances at her birthday party

After countless visits from well-wishers, cutting the cake and a champagne toast, birthday girl Alice Eichhorst said it was time to dance.

What better way to turn 100?

A resident of The Vines Senior Home in Elgin, Eichhorst was joined last week by roughly 75 family members, friends, local dignitaries and well-wishers she'd never met before who turned out to congratulate her with a party on her special day.

"I haven't been around this many people in a long time," Eichhorst said. "It's very exciting."

The 100-year-old was born in East Dundee, but has lived in Elgin for nearly 80 years, working at iconic local businesses such as the Elgin Watch Factory and Ackemann's Department Store along the way. She was driving until she was nearly 90 and lived on her own until age 96, when she moved into The Vines.

"She's just wonderful. We love her so much," said activity director Cathy Vaden, who posted about the birthday on an Elgin Facebook group page last week. The post received more than 1,000 likes and 250 comments.

Her secrets to a long and healthy life?

"No drinking or smoking - well, maybe a little drinking. Take care of your body and pick good husbands. I had two good ones," Eichhorst said.

For the full story, click here.

Phyllis Thielen of South Elgin, with her husband Len (not pictured), sat down for Balmoral Restaurant's fifth annual Seniors Day, a free three-course meal event on Jan. 10 in Campton Hills. Sandy Bressner/

Restaurant owner feeds hundreds of seniors for free

Growing up in an orphanage, Balmoral Restaurant owner Colin Smith saw his share of generosity, especially on the part of senior citizens.

"Without them, I don't know where I would have been," Smith said. "Without senior citizens visiting the orphanages, we might not have had dinner that night or gotten new clothes. They took us under their wing and supported us."

The Campton Hills restaurant on Jan. 9 and 10 hosted its fifth annual Seniors Day, offering seniors free three-course meals. The restaurant served 250 people each day, bringing it to its capacity.

"This was the most we've ever done," Smith said. "We normally serve about 300 or so people. But we stretched it a little and did it over two days."

In coming up with the menu, he chose food he thought seniors would like, including salmon, chicken and pork chops.

"You know, everybody was grateful and thankful," Smith said.

For the full story, click here.

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