Hope and Charity Rise from Times of Despair

lilyAt the beginning of this new year, I’d like to take the time to pay tribute to four stellar individuals who passed last month. They were all people who have touched my life, my family’s lives and the lives of so many others as well.  While they are no longer here, their memories will live on in the memories of others and through contributions made to their favorite organizations.

  • David F. Dean, Sr.: This fine gentleman was my grandfather. He served time in the United States Army, worked for Banker’s Life and Casualty for 46 years, and was a member of the Blackhawk Curling Club. My grandfather was an awesome man and I miss him very much. Even at the end of his life he was selfless, thinking of Agrace HospiceCare, Inc, where he requested any memorial contributions be donated. This non-profit organization provided my grandfather with great care and my family with a lot of comfort.
  • Stanley R. Racki Jr.: Stanley is the big brother of one of my very close friends, Tim Racki. Children were Stanley’s life; he was an elementary teacher for Downers Grove District 58 at Fairmount and Whittier Schools. It was only appropriate that all donations in his honor have been sent to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). I wonder sometimes if he’s chatting with Cubs Great Ron Santo about how awesome JDRF is.
  • John Dunbar Battistoni: I had the honor of knowing John for eight great years, serving as his coach for three.  In his memory, his family has set up a memorial scholarship fund in his honor at Nazareth Academy.  Donations are also being accepted for the St. Cletus Endowment Fund. I hope much educational support comes out of his death.
  • Natalie A. Kaiser: Many of you know about my work with the I AM PK Foundation. Natalie was the mother of Phillip, and served as a surrogate mother to myself and many others.  I know that despite of her sudden passing, her friends and family have found some peace in knowing that mother and son have been united. Together, they are watching donations pour into the I AM PK Foundation, which dedicates awareness to testing athletes for undiagnosed heart conditions.
While December was a sad month, faith, family and friends, plus this poem by Mary Stevenson “Footprints in the Sand” have helped to get me through.  I also take solace in knowing that their deaths were not in vain and that good work will come from the donations made to their organizations.  Please consider these great causes as you look to make the difference in lives of others in 2013 and beyond.
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Make a Statement with Non-Profit and Volunteer Work

We are constantly being evaluated in life, by our peers, by families and by ourselves. The world of social media has made it easier for everyone to know what you are up to. I love sharing what’s going on in my life, especially when it comes to the non-profit and volunteer work I enjoy.

Many of you know that I serve as the committee chair for the Associate Board for Partnerships/Volunteer for Chicago Gateway Green and Executive Director of I am PK Foundation, LLC. I’ve devoted time to these causes because they mean something to me on a personal level.

What I never realized is how it’s contributed to the development of my personal brand. It wasn’t until I read this brief piece, Building Your Personal Brand Through Volunteerism, that I started to recognize all of the benefits I was getting from working with these two organizations. It was never my intention to get something back in return, but it’s happened. The piece touched on four specific areas that I wanted to share with you:

Team-Oriented Spirit: Volunteering shows that you want to make an impact as part of a larger team. I’m lucky enough to work to help further these causes alongside some stellar people. I’ve made great friends along the way as well.

Network Expansion: When you are working with your favorite cause, you are exposed to a whole new set of people who you might have never met before. You never know where these relationships will lead you.

Sharpen Your Skills: It’s important to find opportunities that align with your skills. For me, working with Chicago Gateway Green was a no-brainer. I love the cause and event planning. At I am PK Foundation, LLC, I have the opportunity to lead teams and get in touch with my business operations side.

Keep Busy: Volunteering shows you like to keep busy. Sometimes I think I’m too busy, but I wouldn’t give up working with these organizations.

Working with Chicago Gateway Green and I am PK Foundation, LLC have morphed into something special for me and are part of who I am when I start to think about myself as a brand. And when people are evaluating me, I know I have my best foot forward.

What are some of your favorite organizations to work with? How do they give back to you?

Supporting the I am PK Foundation

During the middle of August, I was lucky enough to be out supporting one of my favorite causes: the I am PK Foundation.

I serve as the executive director of the foundation, which was started in the honor of Phil Kaiser. Our goal is to provide assistance to less fortunate individuals in the Chicago land area in a number of ways. The foundation provides health screenings, help to attend schools and the funds to cover sports fees.

Throughout the year, the foundation holds events to raise money for our organization and to spread the word about how important health screenings are in youth athletes.

Our most recent benefit was held at the La Grange Country Club on August 18th. So many great organizations have sponsored this event, including ATI Physical Therapy, Finch’s Beer, Metropolitan Club, ArtBeat Live, as well as Elliot for Coyote Margarita and Phyllis Benstein.

Thanks to these and our other great sponsors, our 340 attendees and 42 stellar volunteers had a great time. We raised $31,000 for the foundation! That money is going to go a long way in helping us reach our goals.