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Each year, the Village recognizes individuals and organizations that contribute to making Mount Prospect
a better community at the Celestial Celebration. The event was held on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.

Here are the 2012 Shining Star Award recipients:




OPEN ARMS AWARD George Elder (St. Mark Lutheran Church member/volunteer)

As the first St. Mark member to volunteer on the planning committee to help children in low income families through Holy Family School in Chicago, George has not stopped for the last 16 years. On behalf of St. Mark Lutheran Church he has worked tirelessly and given his whole heart to this cause. Event planning from beginning to end, with set up/clean up and securing auction items to promoting and inviting people and supporting the events generously himself. He also has collected Christmas gifts for these children and delivered them himself! There is also a FUN DAY each year where the students have a field trip ….from the inner city….to Mount Prospect…and it has become a specialday anticipated all year for those students who then enjoy a Mount Prospect day of fun and games, crafts and lunch, all by church volunteers and all organized by George. His idea that all children should have joy and goodness in their education and daily lives has been met with action and success. He did this all with kindness and commitment, as a steward for St. Mark Lutheran Church.  


 mike jensen

YOUTH SERVICE AWARD Mike Jensen (volunteer/Coach)

Mike has been a longtime volunteer with the Mt. Prospect Park District Baseball program….he has served on the board and coached and done everything from scheduling umpires to raking fields and organizes everything from beginning of the season to the end. He helps the coaches and runs registration, and honestly you would think this is not just a full time job, but a full time life…but, he is volunteer! It is amazing he does all he does because he is one person, but the reality is, he is out checking fields at 5 or 6 in the morning and he is always the last to leave, handling questions and concerns from coaches and parents and being the go-to-guy for everything BASEBALL related. Most importantly, he is easy to be around. He is smiling and cheering on the kids, and always has a good word. The many many nominations came in for his time with the baseball program, but words also included that even though he is focused on it year round, he actually coaches two other sports. He does all this because he wants a full and genuine experience for the kids, it’s about THEM and he makes it so.


BEST BUSINESS PARTNER AWARD CVS Caremark – employee Holly Samme

Through the efforts of Mrs. Holly Samme, the Employee Activities Committee of CVS Caremark has been helping the MP Human Services Department with the Thanksgiving Program since 2005. Every year Mrs. Samme coordinates the fund raising effort with CVS Caremark employees. She uses the donations from the employees to organize and shop for turkeys and other food items to complete full Thanksgiving meals. She does this to be able to have a Thanksgiving experience for over 100 families who need it and whom otherwise would not. Her generous gift of time along with the actual dollars it takes to make this happen are tremendous…and on top of all it, she does it enthusiastically with a big heart to help others genuinely. Holly Samme is a great representative for CVS Caremark, a business giving to the community and leading the way for others.



For over 25 years, Darcy Nichols has lived and worked at the Centennial Apartments. As Resident Manager, she does more than daily duties to run those buildings in a respectable and safe way. Darcy gives the residents a feeling of security and independence, she knows all residents and their families and friends who visit; and she treats everyone with respect and kindness. She has the patience of a Saint and greets everyone with a smile and a good word. She always goes above and beyond what is required of her. Residents who move in without family may seem at a loss, however Darcy makes sure she has contact with them to ensure they have resources to make decisions and have transportation for doctor appointments and shopping. She also makes sure there are activities and plans to offer residents something to do during the day. She is the friend and caretaker and support system many need at this transitional time of their life and she does it all unconditionally, with their best interests in her heart.




Jane & Frank Whitecotton are a friendly, neighborly couple. They certainly are the type to help someone in their neighborhood, whether it be a car problem or shoveling snow. They are giving and caring and do things with no expectation of anything in return. They are also very helpful at church, doing neighborly things. Any project that needs a volunteer, they are happy to help. Frank is a real handyman and has helped Trinity United Methodist Church over the years with anything that needs fixing. Also, together they give considerable time and support to the the Trinity Community Outreach Service project of the Annual Rummage Sale. They help it to be successful be getting ready with fixes and sorting and of course organizing and selling….they truly are a couple who do neighborly things for others and they usually are doing it together….which compliments their special relationship…..Jane needed a kidney and of course, Frank was the donor!

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“STAR SPANGLED” AWARD William Starr (Commander, American Legion)

Bill Starr wants to share his Patriotism with others, he is one proud American. As a Legionairre, he is often asked to make an appearance in uniform…and whether he does this on behalf of Veterans, or Legionairre’s or for himself, he seems grateful to do it. Bill is a military retiree having served over 30 years either in Active Duty, Inactive Reserve or in Active Reserves. He served in Vietnam in 1969/70 and lead teams in Bosnia in 1996 and Kosovo in 1999. He retired from US Army Special Operations at a Lieutenant Colonel in 2000. Bill is very supportive of Mount Prospect service clubs and activities that take place in town. He walks the walk and talks the talk about our country’s history and takes pride in knowing it and sharing it.


CHAMPION FOR YOUTH AWARD Steve Shaffer (PE teacher/Coach, MPSD #57)

Steve Shaffer is a pe teacher at Lions Park Elementary and a coach at Lincoln Middle School. Staff and parents compliment and support this longtime teacher for his genuine insight and instruction to students, focusing on skill building, teamwork and good character. He believes in his students and shares his enthusiasm and optimism with them. He encourages them to try no matter what level they are at and teaches the importance of improvement throughout the entire team rather than the triumph of a few. His students and athletes BOTH are committed to learning from him because of his authentic, caring approach. He makes pe about fun and fitness for all and leaves no child behind ever. It is for this and so many other reasons that Steve Shaffer is this years’ CHAMPION FOR YOUTH.


UNSUNG HERO AWARD Jitrenda “Jay” Patel (Subway, 1705 W. Algonquin)

Jay Patel opened his Subway in August 2010, one year after Community Connections Center opened. Within months of his arrival, he became a number one supporter of whatever has been needed. Without hesitation and without notice, he jumps in to provide sandwiches to staff and volunteers for major events (sometimes these are huge numbers, over 200!) More importantly, he is genuinely concerned about residents and wants to help provide a good experience for visitors to the Center, always providing plastic bags for materials and giving out cookies. He always offers coupons and assistance, and those warm, fresh baked cookies are always a hit. His employees are also attendees at some of the educational offerings at the Center and he is instrumental in the success of the Center because he is supporting it as an Employer and helping his employees while at the same time giving volunteer time and donations to the center attendees and staff and volunteers. He is certainly someone who cares very much about helping others and does so because he believes it is the right thing to do.



HOMETOWN AWARD Mount Prospect Downtown Merchants Association

This organization has changed the face of our Downtown. Not only have they continually “upped” the standard for “community minded business owner” but they have repeatedly brought events to our Downtown attracting residents and outsiders who may not have otherwise ventured to MP. The hugely successful Saturday night Car Shows are some of the best in Illinois and the Fall Festival/Oktoberfest can now boast record breaking attendance and success in bringing people to our Village. Their New Year’s Eve Eve celebration for families was in the top TWO things to do for kids in CHICAGOLAND. They continually bring attention to our downtown and village; these hardworking business owners are outstanding volunteers who are nothing less than dynamos who know how to make things happen, and they do it for the sake of Mount Prospect. (Katie Dolan Dix , 2011 President and Roberta Hamann, 2012 President will be accepting award)



mary kate

RISING STAR AWARD Nora Gawlik (Hersey) & Mary Kate Dempsey (Prospect)

It is fitting to wrap up with this last award… Mount Prospect’s RISING stars are our future. Nora Gawlik and Mary Kate Dempsey have both been in Girl Scouts since they were in kindergarten…..they have accomplished a very rare feat…..not only continuing with Scouts all through school, they are graduating seniors….but earning Girl Scout’s highest achievement… the Gold Award. The project they chose to work for this award was creating and working a “giving garden” to raise and donate fresh vegetables for the local food pantry. The girls were commited to the project in every way and organized and worked every aspect of it…from talking to park district personnel (It was a River Trails Park District location for the garden), to researching and buying plants, seeds and tools. There was a water and weeding schedule and LOTS of water to haul. There was certainly trial and error, as in the effect of overwatering and the results and fixes needed. All in all, the girls who of course have other activities in their lives, as well high school social lives….THIS was a priority and something that required time each and every day. Their efforts were recognized in the newspaper and acknowledged by Mount Prospect residents who didn’t even know them, but read about the garden……and nominated them because “THIS IS WHAT A SHINING STAR IS”. To these girls, who learned about life and community service by growing 650 pounds of vegetables when they planned for 100……..our gratitude we give. Congratulations to Nora Gawlik of Hersey High School and Mary Kate Dempsey of Prospect High School.

Last updated: 11/22/2013 10:32:41 AM