Olczyk inspires crowd as Larson hosts Schaumburg volunteer awards for last time
With Chicago Blackhawks broadcaster and former player Eddie Olczyk as keynote speaker, retiring Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson Monday hosted his village's 32nd Volunteer of the Year Awards Luncheon, an event he launched at the beginning of his first term.
"You guys run this town," Larson told the record number of nominees gathered at Chandler's for the event. "Every aspect of the village is found in this room. Without you, we would be an empty shell. Congratulations on a job well done."
Olczyk inspired the audience with his insistence that the caregiving of others was the difference between success and failure in his battle with stage 3 colon cancer nearly two years ago.
"I could not have done this without my wife and our caregivers," Olczyk said. "The greatest compliment you can get is someone showing appreciation for how you treat other people."
At the age of 93, Helen Jerusis was the village's adult individual volunteer of the year for her work with the WINGS Resale Shop of Schaumburg, which generates funding for the organization that assists and houses survivors of domestic violence.
She also recruits fellow residents of Friendship Village of Schaumburg to continue their engagement with the community.
"You are never too old to volunteer," Jerusis was quoted in her nomination. "You can still find some place to give your time and efforts. ... If you can't stand, we'll get you a chair. ... It's good for your mental attitude to see that you can accomplish something like this."
Hoffman Estates High School senior Sarah Mathias of Schaumburg was named youth volunteer of the year.
In addition to being a member of the Schaumburg Youth Orchestra, she volunteers at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, JourneyCare Hospice in Barrington, multiple ministries at St. Hubert Catholic Church in Hoffman Estates, the Communities for Positive Youth Development Coalition in conjunction with the Kenneth Young Center, and the Schaumburg Township District Library Teen Corp.
The District 54 Education Foundation was volunteer organization of the year, having donated more than $1 million over the past 32 years to various programs to help students in Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 beyond what's funded by taxes.
For the past two years, the foundation has focused particularly on its Food 4 Thought program, which raises money to provide breakfast for students of families in need at all 27 of the district's elementary and junior high schools.
About 22 percent of the district's 15,000 students qualify for the federal free lunch program. But the foundation's program helps ensure those students have breakfast as well so they can start their day without feeling hungry.