Big Shoes to Fill

Incoming Long Grove Historical Society President Angie Underwood pokes fun at outgoing Historical Society President (and spouse) Aaron Underwood.

Incoming Long Grove Historical Society President Angie Underwood pokes fun at outgoing Historical Society President (and spouse) Aaron Underwood.

Each year at this time, the Long Grove Historical Society holds an annual meeting. It provides a nice opportunity to gather and celebrate the accomplishments of the past twelve months, thank the retiring officers, start brainstorming for the year ahead, and install the new executive board members. Last fall when I announced my retirement from the Village Board, and talk was floated that perhaps I would consider coming back to serve as President of the Historical Society again, the current President (my loving husband) quipped that, “well, I don’t know, she’d have some awfully big shoes to fill.”  Admittedly, he was joking, but the rest of the women in the room lost no time in setting him straight. So I could not resist the opportunity to prove to everyone at the annual meeting that yes, in fact I can fill his shoes, and in 4 inch heels no less!

Teasing aside, the Historical Society has enjoyed a very successful year under Aaron’s leadership with the October Ghostwalk event in the downtown getting even bigger and better, and it will be a hard act to follow. The partnership between the Historical Society, Downtown Merchants, and the Long Grove Community Church has now grown beyond the Ghostwalk to include collaborating on activities for Vintage Days and advocating for the preservation of our one-lane historic covered bridge. Look for all of these activities to continue into the remainder of 2017 and 2018, with some new ideas thrown in for good measure. I am very enthused to be working with our new and returning Historical Society board members to preserve, share, and celebrate our unique Long Grove history. We hope that you will join with us!

Meals On Wheels

Attending the 2017 Lake County "Champions for Meals" event on Monday, March 20th with (L) Millie Hall, MOW Volunteer from Lake Forest, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, and (R)   Diana O'Kelly, Fremont Township Supervisor.

Attending the 2017 Lake County “Champions for Meals” event on Monday, March 20th with (L) Millie Hall, Meals On Wheels volunteer from Lake Forest, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, and (R) Diana O’Kelly, Fremont Township Supervisor.

I have a long-standing relationship with Meals on Wheels. Early in my career in Nutrition & Dietetics, I worked as a menu planner for a company that produced the meals for a senior delivery program in Cook County. Later as a young mom in 1988, I fastened my baby daughter in her car seat so she could go along for the ride as I delivered meals to home-bound senior citizens in Winfield, Wheaton, and West Chicago in DuPage County. Ten years down the road when we moved to Long Grove I volunteered in Lake County on the routes serving Wauconda, Lake Zurich, and Island Lake. As my kids got older I would schedule my delivery days on school holidays so that they could help physically deliver the meals, and this always earned extra smiles from the recipients. When my three children were student drivers, I made them do the driving on the route with me for extra practice backing up and parking. I reluctantly had to give up volunteering as a driver when I became Village President because of the need to make some room in my schedule for the demands of the Village. But all together I spent a little over 20 years doing my small part in helping needy seniors receive a hot lunch and a friendly check-in.

Many invitations show up in my inbox to attend charity events these days, and as much as I would like to I can’t attend them all. I try to pick the ones that will have the best impact for the Village, and the ones that are the most personally meaningful to me. Meals on Wheels is certainly personal. This past Monday, March 20th I had the opportunity to come together with other elected and government officials in Lake County to be a “Champion for Meals” and help deliver meals to seniors to bring awareness to this worthy program. I was paired with Millie Hall, a volunteer driver from Lake Forest, who helped me remember the joy of serving our fellow senior residents in this way.

The Meals on Wheels “more than just a meal” model addresses three of the biggest threats of aging:  isolation, hunger, and loss of independence. Nationally, 1 in 6 seniors struggle with hunger, and programs such as this deliver the support that keeps seniors in their own homes, where they want to be. This in turn reduces the early need for nursing home and hospital care, saving billions in healthcare costs. In 2016, over 122,400 home delivered meals were provided locally in our county. I was honored last week to help join with others to spotlight this needed program. In Lake County, Meals on Wheels is administered through Catholic Charities and you can find out more by visiting www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

Delivering lunch to a Meals on Wheels senior citizen in Lake Zurich.

Delivering lunch to a Meals on Wheels senior citizen in Lake Zurich.

Power of the Purse Raises $37,000

Having fun with the ladies and supporting early childhood education at Power of the Purse: (L to R) Lori Lyman, Village of Long Grove Trustee, Kristi Long, President and CEO of United Way of Lake County, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, Patrice  Maloney-Knauff, Women's Leadership Council Co-Chair.

Having fun with the ladies and supporting early childhood education at Power of the Purse: (L to R) Lori Lyman, Village of Long Grove Trustee, Kristi Long, President and CEO of United Way of Lake County, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, and Patrice Maloney-Knauff, Women’s Leadership Council Co-Chair.

What woman doesn’t love a beautiful new purse? I’m pretty excited about the one I recently acquired at this year’s Power of the Purse event. Held at Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove, this luncheon celebrating women, friendship, and philanthropy is the major fundraiser for the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County. As a member of the WLC, I was delighted that our Village was chosen to host the event this year, and I made sure to pull together a table of Long Grove ladies who are passionate about getting our youngest Lake County residents ready to succeed in school and in life.

During my year and a half involvement with the WLC, I have been impressed by the support given both financially and in volunteerism to provide opportunities for low income children to increase their literacy. I’ve gotten to share a favorite Dr. Seuss story with preschool students at the Green Bay Early Childhood Center in North Chicago, and help establish their new Infant Toddler Community Resource Center. This summer at a meeting in our Long Grove Village Hall, I got to meet the grant recipients of our “Little Kids, Big Futures” Philanthropy Fund. Programs such as Success By 6 and Kindergarten Countdown Camp are possible as a result of the monies raised at Power of the Purse.

So about that new purse that I purchased–I had to act quickly to pick it out, sign my name on the pledge card and pop a balloon before several other women who were hot on my heels scarfed it up! There were games to be played, raffles to win, silent auction items to bid on, books to be dedicated and a delicious lunch to enjoy with friends. It was great fun to join with over 200 other ladies to spend an afternoon shopping, socializing, and making a positive impact in children’s lives.

Hayrake Trail

Grovetrotter walking group member Jane Primack at the entrance to the Hayrake Trail.

Grovetrotter walking group member Jane Primack at the entrance to the Hayrake Trail.

Thanks to the hard work of a Long Grove Eagle Scout, one of our neighborhood pathway trails was recently extended and restored. Known as the Hayrake Trail, this path along Indian Creek starts on Port Clinton Road and runs north, just to the east of the Com Ed right of way. This path is attractive for a variety of reasons:  it contains woodland wildflowers, winds alongside a lovely creek, features benches on which to rest, and a vintage artifact (old hayrake salvaged from the creek) as a point of interest. But my personal favorite feature of this trail is that it is entirely in the shade. And on the hot and humid August day that I recently hiked it along with my fellow Grovetrotters, that shade was most welcome!

We have Stevenson High School Senior William Jacob to thank for this, as he was the most recent local Boy Scout to choose the Hayrake Trail as his Eagle Scout project. William and his crew of volunteers spent several workdays this summer hauling mulch and clearing brush to restore the front section of the trail, and then extended the trail further north towards an eventual connection to Oakwood Road. In addition, William added a wooden entrance sign to the trail (pictured above) which is visible from Port Clinton Road so that residents can more easily access this community path. William was thanked for his service to the Village and the Park District at the August 9th Village Board Meeting, pictured below.

Long Grove is a community that depends on volunteers to step forward when needed to maintain and improve our many beautiful open spaces. Congratulations to William for gaining some valuable leadership skills, and at the same time giving all of us one more shady spot to appreciate the wonders of nature.

Honoring students at our August 9th Village Board Meeting: (L to R) Ted Tapas, Stevenson High School State  Championship Men's Bowling Team Captain, Dave Lothspeich, Village Manager, Angie Underwood, Eagle Scout William Jacob.

Honoring students at our August 9th Village Board Meeting: (L to R) Ted Tapas, Stevenson High School State Championship Men’s Bowling Team Captain; Dave Lothspeich, Village Manager; Angie Underwood, Village President; Eagle Scout William Jacob.

Celebrating Girl Scout Week

Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts helping me proclaim National Girl Scout Week in Long Grove on March 8th, 2016.

Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts helping me proclaim National Girl Scout Week in Long Grove on March 8th, 2016.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and what better way to celebrate than by inviting some of our female leaders of tomorrow to help lead the Pledge of Allegiance at our Village Board meeting. Thanks to the girls of Junior Girl Scout Troop #40465 from Country Meadows Elementary and Cadette Girl Scout Troop #41041 from Woodlawn Middle School who joined me in honoring Girl Scout Week with an official proclamation. And of course, being a former Girl Scout myself and a Girl Scout leader for many years, I had the perfect chance to dig out my old scouting sweatshirt and remember the great times spent with my daughter’s troop, symbolized by all the patches. Did you know this week marks Girl Scouts 104th anniversary of Girl Scouting in the United States? A few more tidbits from the proclamation include:

WHEREAS, Girl Scouts is a global movement that thinks big and acts locally. Programs and experiences are designed to help every girl discover her sparkle. In addition to singing, dancing, hiking, and canoeing, our local Girl Scouts use problem-solving skills to make an impact in our community and around the world; and

WHEREAS, the mission of Girl Scouts is to change lives by building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place; and

WHEREAS, more than 55,440 girls and 21,381 adults are involved locally in Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, Angela Underwood, past Girl Scout and Girl Scout Leader and now Village President of Long Grove do hereby recognize National Girl Scout Week, March 6th-12th, 2016, and declare the same as official Girl Scout Week in Long Grove.

FURTHER, I urge all citizens of Long Grove to join me in recognizing the achievements and leadership of our local Girl Scouts and volunteers; thank them for their valuable community service and encourage the future success of this organization.

Cat in the Hat Cuteness

Sharing my love of reading with the students at Green Bay Early Childhood Center.

Sharing my love of reading with the students at Green Bay Early Childhood Center.

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday this week, schools across America have been visited by red & white striped hat-wearing volunteers sharing their love of literacy. Today I had the delight of donning such a hat and reading to a preschool class at the Green Bay Early Childhood Center in North Chicago. And let me just say, this early morning dose of cuteness was much more invigorating than a triple shot latte!

My involvement with this particular school comes as a by-product of being a member of the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County. WLC has recently partnered with Green Bay Early Childhood Center to fund a community resource center that will be used to help get as many kids as possible ready to start kindergarten with the necessary skills. This morning our “crew of crazy chapeaux” had a tour of the school and the space we are helping to create which will be shared by Head Start families as well as residents of the local school district. By dedicating time and money now to improve early childhood education in some of the most at-risk areas of Lake County, we are making a significant investment in our workforce and families of tomorrow.

When I was a child my favorite Dr. Seuss book was “Green Eggs and Ham.” When my kids were little, the title they asked me to read over, and over, and over was “Fox in Socks,” mainly to see if they could catch me up in the tongue-twisters! Today I had the pleasure of reading “Dr. Seuss’s A, B, C’s” to an adorable group of energetic 3 and 4 year old students, who could not have been more fun.

David Brooks of the New York Times has noted, “By age 5, it is possible to predict with depressing accuracy who will complete high school and college and who will not.” By recognizing this need and addressing it head-on in the last 10 years, WLC and United Way of Lake County has seen a dramatic improvement of kindergarten readiness in Waukegan from 6 percent to 48 percent! That “Cat in the Hat” is more than just a sly comedic character; he is providing a spark that can lead toward improved literacy and a brighter future for all of our children.

"Crew of Crazy Chapeaux" aka members of the Women's Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County.

Volunteer readers and members of the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County.

Bob Borg Bridge

Family members of Bob Borg stand at the entrance to the newly renovated and dedicated bridge on October 21, 2015.

Family members of Bob Borg stand at the entrance to the newly renovated and dedicated bridge on October 21, 2015.

As 2015 winds to a close it is natural to take a look back at all the changes one year can bring. Some things are gained and carry forward into the new year, and some things remain behind in our memories. Earlier this year we said goodbye to one of my favorite residents, Bob Borg, who was a member of our Conservancy & Scenic Corridor Committee, Park District Board of Trustees, and Historical Society. Bob donated countless hours of his time over the years to maintain the open spaces and historical buildings that give our Village some of its distinctive character. This Fall the bridge leading over the creek from Village Hall to the Archer one-room schoolhouse was renovated, a project that Bob had initiated. Our bridge is now safe for the students who visit on field trips and accessible for wheelchairs and riding lawnmowers, and yet it maintains the country charm. I know that Bob would be pleased. To honor his contributions and legacy to Long Grove, the Historical Society placed a monument stone at the entrance to the bridge on October 21st. The stone is large and sturdy (just like Bob) and set at a laid-back angle (he was a laid-back kinda guy!) and was christened with a toast and a sacrificial bottle of whiskey (don’t worry, the contents had been previously enjoyed).

So as we move on into 2016, let us remember those special people and memories that for 2015 marked a turning point. The new year ahead is certain to bring some changes, for our Village as well as in each of our own lives. I will close with a quote that I like from former President John F. Kennedy:

“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

CERT Team: On Deck for Emergencies

Wielding the fire axe with members of our Long Grove CERT Team.

Wielding the fire axe with members of our Long Grove CERT Team.

The Long Grove Fire Protection District held an open house this fall during National Fire Prevention Week and the CERT team was on hand to take part in the festivities. In addition to answering questions and interacting with the public, they found time to dress me up in a Fire Chief vest and they even let me get up close and personal with a fire axe! I learned many interesting things about this dedicated group of community volunteers that day, starting with the meaning of their acronym CERT: Community Emergency Response Team. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the formation of our Long Grove team, which works hand-in-hand with our local first responders to provide extra assistance in special emergency situations. Some of the types of service our CERT volunteers provide include traffic direction, shoveling snow for the elderly and disabled, informing residents in cases of suspected gas leaks or downed power lines, and clearing fallen trees with their trusty power tools.

To get a little more insight into the experience of being a CERT member, I called my friend and fellow resident Walter Roth. A three-year veteran of the program, Walter happily answered a few of my questions:

What type of training did you initially have to undergo to become a member of the CERT team?
Walter: It was a nine week process. We met for three hours every Tuesday evening, and the training focused on areas such as First Aid, Search & Rescue, and CPR.

Did you have to train out in the field, and do you have ongoing education sessions?
Walter: Yes, as a matter of fact in late September I attended a weekend training seminar sponsored by Illinois Search and Rescue. This was held at Lakewood Forest Preserve and included four hours of classroom instruction and 12 hours of field work. The outdoor sessions focused on helping us sharpen our skills in looking for lost people and evidence. The instructors hid a deck of playing cards throughout the forest preserve and we had to find as many as possible using special observation techniques and reminding ourselves to look for things that are not always obvious. The average untrained volunteer will only have a 25% success rate at this kind of task, as opposed to trained volunteers like our CERT team members, who average closer to 80 or 90%. My personal experience with this has taught me to push past any bias and not make assumptions in a situation—a lot of evidence can be overlooked by making incorrect assumptions.

Have you had any experience so far that sticks out in your mind as a defining moment of your CERT service?
Walter: In April of 2014 we were called into service in the middle of the night to assist with the house explosion in Royal Melbourne. Our CERT team was tasked with doing building assessments and looking for anyone who might be injured in neighborhoods adjoining Royal Melbourne and across the golf course from the explosion site. It was just amazing to be on hand to see how much damage had occurred and to be able to be helpful in a time of need for our community.

I want to take a moment in this season of Thanksgiving to appreciate Walter and all his colleagues on the CERT team for their ongoing service to our community. On behalf of the Village Board and all the residents, Thank You! For more information on this program, be sure to check out their website: slcrcert.org.

Power of the Purse

One of the purses auctioned off today to benefit United Way of Lake County.

One of the purses auctioned off today to benefit United Way of Lake County.

Earlier this year, I was asked to join the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Lake County. As Village President, I receive many offers to serve on committees and attend fundraising events for worthy causes, and as much as I would like to, there aren’t enough hours in the day to participate in them all. Today’s fundraiser for WLC, “Power of the Purse,” was a great reminder of why I have chosen to volunteer my time and resources to this impressive group of women.

Made up of corporate professionals, entrepreneurs, elected officials, retirees, teachers, stay-at-home-moms and volunteers, the Women’s Leadership Council uses our collective  power to make a difference in early childhood literacy programs in Lake County. The “Little Kids, Big Futures” Philanthropy Fund helps provide enrichment such as a kindergarten readiness program in Round Lake, and a Kindergarten Countdown Camp in Waukegan. Our goal in WLC is to do our best to make sure Lake County’s most vulnerable children are prepared to start school on track. Since 2013, the group has granted nearly $75,000 to help prepare our youngest residents to succeed in life.

I have had such a positive experience working with and getting to know the other women in the WLC. Today’s luncheon proved that you can have fun and games and philanthropy all at the same time. I ended up winning a bottle of wine, and my friend Susan scored a beautiful new purse in the silent auction. We made memories in the photo booth, and helped build a preschool library for an area school. It was altogether a lovely day and proved yet again, dynamic women banding together can enable great things to happen!

Rotary Heritage Run

Rotarians Jonathon Mintz, Robert Mintz, and Aaron Underwood at the September 12, 2015 Heritage Run.

Rotarians Jonathon Mintz, Robert Mintz, and Aaron Underwood at the September 12, 2015 Heritage Run.

We are enjoying some truly lovely late summer/early fall weather here in Long Grove right now. This also held true for the morning of September 12th, as Mother Nature gifted the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer, and Hawthorn Woods with a perfect day for their annual Heritage Run/Walk. This event, in it’s 18th year, raises between $50,000. to $100,000. for as many as 12 different local charities. Community members and charity supporters get to participate in a fun race starting and ending in our historic downtown, and everyone is included in the post-race pancake and sausage breakfast. It’s a win -win for the Rotary, the community, and the charities, but it does take a massive amount of work to pull this event off successfully every September. Besides helping at the registration table and walking the course, I also had the honor of handing out the medals during the awards ceremony again this year. Thanks go to all the Rotarians who make this happen, and congratulations to all the winners!