Stellar Shelter

February 2019 View more

Evan Lenz of Downers Grove holding a kitten

West Suburban Humane Society has launched its fundraising campaign with encouraging results: $2.4 million in pledges toward a $4 million capital campaign goal to build a new shelter in Downers Grove.

WSHS was retrofitted from a single-family home and a boarding kennel over 40 years ago, and it’s now deteriorating. The campaign will provide for a new 8,300-square foot building—that will be built on two lots adjacent to the current shelter—to house animals with ample room to play, roam, and receive medical services, along with the opportunity for families to use private space to interact with the animals. The added area also will provide more room for the growing humane education program for youth and teenagers, as well as staff training.

“We have been operating under inadequate conditions for far too long, and the time has come to embark on this much-needed campaign,” says WSHS board president Jennifer Bahlmann. “Our goal is to build a responsible and efficient shelter that provides dignity and safety for the animals, all while designing a special place that will attract more visitors for adoption and public education.”

Cochairs Colette Loesher and Roy Thygesen lead the capital campaign. Loesher, a Wood Dale resident, serves as senior vice president and regional manager at Old Second National Bank. Thygesen, a resident of Downers Grove, is the northern Illinois market chairman at Busey Bank.

Located on Ogden Avenue several blocks east of Belmont Road, the new facility will be constructed on land the organization already owns. Groundbreaking is slated for late spring or early summer 2019. To make a donation, visit—MD

Lessons in Equality

Kudos to St. Francis High School senior Caroline Zimmer, who recently traveled to Cambodia through Kids Play International, an organization founded by three-time Olympian Tracy Evans. KPI members are dedicated to teaching gender equality through its Let’s Play Fair sports program.

Zimmer was tasked with teaching respect through playing games and guiding discussions. She says that working with the children really impacted her life. “Playing and interacting with children, despite language and cultural barriers, was a beautiful experience as I was able to connect with them through soccer. … The trip was a huge learning and eye-opening experience. It was a very successful launch to the KPI program in Cambodia, which will only continue to grow and impact society.”

The Geneva resident was referred to KPI by St. Francis High School assistant varsity soccer coach Anne Poulin, who chose Zimmer for her success on the soccer field, as well as her leadership qualities.

Fill the Boot

The Wheaton Fire Department recently raised more than $2,000 to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association through its Fill the Boot campaign. The International Association of Firefighters is the MDA’s largest supporter, raising $558 million since 1954.

Local Scholarships

The Edward Foundation has awarded $20,000 in scholarships to these Edward Hospital student volunteers, who greet visitors, deliver flowers, transport patients, and assist behind the scenes at the hospital: Crista Thyvelikakath (Waubonsie Valley), Claire Dause (Benet Academy), Alana Cervera (Naperville Central), Arushi Bharel (Naperville Central), Saher Zaman (Metea Valley), Shruti Kolli (Waubonsie Valley), Sydney McFadden (Naperville North), Kierra Beeson (Naperville North), Shobhit Singh (Metea Valley), and Sharya Shah (Waubonsie Valley). Each of the ten students received a $2,000 scholarship for the school of their choice.

Retired Readers

Bus riders going to H.C. Storm Elementary on Friday mornings are somewhat older than the district’s typical student—by a few decades. Senior residents of Batavia’s the Holmstad retirement community have been volunteering one day a week at the school to help kindergarteners and first- and second-grade students with their reading skills for the last three years.

Principal Anne Paonessa appreciates having community partners providing student support, and loves the intergenerational aspect of the partnership with the retirement community. “The group from Holmstad have so much to offer our students, and it’s wonderful seeing bridges being built between the generations,” says Paonessa. “The kids really look forward to reading to another adult, and those resident volunteers are contributing to our students’ success.”

Resident Randy Johnson (shown above) sees so much potential in the students. “There is nothing more rewarding than working one on one with a youngster and seeing how much they improve from getting added attention. I’ve worked with eight different children now and it’s great to develop a friendship with each of these young students.”

Photos courtesy WSHS, St. Francis High School and Holmstad