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The Volunteer Center announces 2011 Impact Award Recipients!

2011 April 11

The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago (TVC) recently awarded six outstanding volunteers in the community with 2011 Impact Awards. Presented annually during National Volunteer Week, the Impact Awards recognize volunteers throughout North and Northwest Suburban Chicago who inspire service and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Nominations were received for six categories this year, including the Emerging Leader Award, the Community Champion Award, the Lead with Experience Award, the Inspirational Achievement Award, the Business 2 Community Award, and the Environmental Impact Award, sponsored by Altria. The winners will be honored at a special recognition event in May.

The following recipients were selected for their leadership and exceptional service to the community.

Peter Ninchich has been chosen to receive the Emerging Leader Impact Award for all the volunteering he has undertaken with Holy Family Parish in Inverness. Ninchich, a high school student, has served with the Special Olympics, tutored students academically, trained members of the American Red Cross, organized a fundraiser for a family who lost their son, and worked for the homeless through PADS, among other projects. His leadership has inspired other youth into service.

Kathryn Benton has been selected to receive the Community Champion Impact Award for her efforts to bring art classes to Maryville Academy in Des Plaines. After Maryville was forced to cancel their art program due to budget cuts, Benton, a master art teacher, volunteered to teach classes to students. Kathryn’s own background of having lived in residential care as a youth gives her special understanding of the girl’s situation that others may not have. As a result, students with intellectual disabilities and mental illness have gotten to see art forms from around the world and undertake their own projects, allowing them to express themselves and build their self-confidence.

Maureen Seleski was nominated by the Village of Arlington Heights and is being honored with the Lead with Experience Impact Award. She has dedicated nearly 1,000 hours of service to seniors in the community. Over the past few years, Seleski has used her professional experience to ensure the long-term viability of inexpensive transportation services for area seniors through the Escorted Transportation Service, Northwest. She has served on various boards and participated on Senior Commissions that have made recommendations to the state that make our communities more senior-friendly. Her compassion and leadership over the years has improved the lives of countless seniors in our community.

Richard O’Brien, a retired high school teacher of 26 years, has been awarded the Inspirational Achievement Impact Award, which recognizes an individual who has overcome a challenge or adversity to make a difference in the lives of others. O’Brien volunteered over 225 hours at the Barrington School District last year, despite the physical limitations of Multiple Sclerosis. He volunteers to help educate underprivileged children, has served as a debate judge, conducted mock interviews, sorted donated clothing, and provided administrative support, among other tasks. When asked why he continues to volunteer he says that “Volunteering is an act of kindness that is nurtured when one is young and then becomes a part of one’s personality throughout life.”

General Electric, the multinational corporation well-known for their consumer, industrial and technological products, has been awarded the Business 2 Community Impact Award for their work with Junior Achievement of Chicago. In 2010, volunteers from the GE Leadership Team came to 150 classrooms in Chicago, teaching students about the importance of financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness skills. GE sponsored field trips to the Museum of Science & Industry, painted and donated murals for schools, and served as volunteers in the classroom. It was because of their leadership that area schools were filled with enthusiastic and caring volunteers.

Sponsored by Altria, the 2011 Environmental Impact Award is being presented to the Conservation Volunteers of the Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. These volunteers contributed over 3,000 hours of service to the environment. In addition, Spring Valley’s “Mighty Acorns” stewardship program has taught elementary school children about the importance of environmental preservation through hands-on experiences. Students get to participate in nature walks, conservation projects, and various games and activities that increase the students’ appreciation for the environment. Schaumburg Village President Al Larson called the Spring Valley Nature Center “Schaumburg’s gift to tomorrow”.

• The selection committee also gave out four “honor awards” to recognize community volunteers who continue to make a difference. Erik Boehm was chosen for his work with the Helping Our Heroes foundation at Prairie Ridge High School. Nancy Nuzzo was recognized for her leadership with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago in helping to train approximately 500 disaster relief volunteers. James Teufel was selected for making a difference by helping children suffering from abuse and poverty at Shelter, Inc. Finally, Friendship Village of Schaumburg was recognized for their “Growing Green Dreams” project, which brought a greenhouse to Hoover Elementary School.

• The Volunteer Center is proud to announce the Executive Network Group of Greater Chicago (ENG) as the Volunteer Program of the Year. ENG, a non-profit organization that provides executives in transition with valuable resources and networking opportunities for finding new employment, created a volunteer program that enables these professionals to share their skills and expertise to advance efforts at local organizations. Chris Campbell, Executive Director of ENG has been vital in the success of this program. “The skills based volunteer program is an excellent way for out of work professionals to utilize their skills for the benefit of non-profits, who otherwise couldn’t afford consultants. Our members feel engaged in professional activities that pay-it-forward and they can show project based consulting on their resumes resulting in a win-win situation,” says Campbell.

To learn more about the award categories and stories of service about each winner, please visit Award recipients will be recognized at The Volunteer Center’s Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on May 4, 2011. For tickets please call 847-228-1320 or visit

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