Everyone Loves a Parade

Back Row: Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor. Front Row: Long Grove residents Angie Underwood, Vicki Juster, Heidi Locker-Scheer, and Rick Juster.

Back Row: Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor. Front Row: Long Grove residents Angie Underwood, Vicki Juster, Heidi Locker-Scheer, and Rick Juster.

What’s the 4th of July without a parade, and what’s a parade without a few politicians? Several Long Grove residents helped me ring in our 2016 Independence Day by participating in the annual Vernon Hills parade earlier this morning. We had fun supporting our Lake County Board Chairman while getting in our daily 10,000 steps.

Here’s to the red, white & blue, and a safe and happy holiday everyone!

Birthday Wishes For Some Leading Ladies

Some of the women attending the recent WINGS celebration: (seated L to R) Cheri Neal, Zion Township Supervisor and current WINGS President, and

Some of the women attending the recent WINGS 30th Birthday celebration: (seated L to R) Cheri Neal, Zion Township Supervisor and current WINGS President, and Evelyn Alexander, Founding Member. (Back row L to R) Cynthia Alexander, Mara Grujanac, Village of Lincolnshire Trustee, Nancy Rotering, City of Highland Park Mayor, Alyssa Knobel, Highland Park Trustee, and Angie Underwood, Village of Long Grove Village President.

This past week marked a milestone in history as Hillary Clinton became the first woman to secure major party support to be placed on the November ballot for President of the United States. Being raised in nearby Park Ridge, Hillary has her roots in Illinois and we do seem to have a heritage of strong women leaders here in our neck of the woods. Today I want to celebrate the birthdays of just a couple of examples.

Having a chat with Barbara Turner

Having a chat with Barbara Turner in December of 2014

All of us in Long Grove are delighted to send our best wishes to Barbara Turner today, June 13, 2016, as she celebrates her 97th birthday! Barbara and her family have been instrumental in preserving and sharing some of our high-quality open spaces and natural areas in the Village, as well as advocating for conservation efforts throughout Lake County. Barbara has been a resident of Long Grove since her youth, and has served the community in many capacities over the years. She is well known to a generation of students as the librarian at Kildeer Countryside School, and was one of the founders of the Long Grove Historical Society, serving as curator and co-authoring a book about our local history. These days Barbara is less able to get out in her beloved nature preserve and battle back the invasive species, but we all know if she could be alongside the interns at Reed-Turner pulling garlic mustard today, she would be! Happy Birthday, Barbara.

Another happy milestone was the 30th Birthday Celebration that I recently attended for a group know as WINGS (Women Interested/In Government Service). This Lake County organization was created to encourage women to seek elected office and offer support and education for those women in leadership roles and interested in the political process. This group meets three times a year and offers inspiring speakers and valuable networking, as well as sponsoring an annual college scholarship. The birthday celebration featured a panel discussion with founding members of WINGS discussing their original dream for the organization back in 1986, and their hopes as we move forward. As we saw in the national events of last week, the contributions of women as leaders in America is a story that continues to be told.

Stevenson Foundation: Empowering Patriot Futures


Shown L to R: Me, Sara Knight, President of the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer & Hawthorn Woods, and Breann Whitford, Stevenson to College Program Manager.

I have recently had the opportunity to participate in several events with the Stevenson High School Foundation, and I would like to highlight two programs that I feel are just outstanding. Last week I attended the Local Scholars Reception, and had the pleasure of presenting a scholarship on behalf of the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club, of which I am a member of the Board. Stevenson Foundation helps connect the community and school by organizing this evening and coordinating between the many private foundations and organizations who fund scholarships, and the students who are selected as the recipients. During the reception 43 students were honored with scholarships, and it was so impressive to hear of their individual stories, accomplishments, and plans for the future. Our Garden Club recipient, Gwendolyn Heidkamp is an exceptional young woman planning to attend the University of Illinois this fall majoring in civil engineering with environmental emphasis. Her inspiration for this career choice comes from living near and volunteering at Ryerson Woods Forest Preserve, and from working alongside her Dad who was an avid gardener and shared his love of nature. It was an honor to meet Gwen and her mom Shannon and I wish her the best of success in her studies!

Presenting the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club Scholarship to Gwendolyn Heidkamp on May 19, 2016.

Presenting the Long Grove-Kildeer Garden Club Scholarship to Gwendolyn Heidkamp on May 19, 2016.

Another initiative of the Stevenson Foundation is the new S2C program, Stevenson to College. In it’s pilot year, this program has been established to help identify and provide mentors to Stevenson students who might not otherwise attend college and then work with them from junior year of high school through college graduation. These students typically fall into one or more of the following categories: first generation in the family to attend college, financial hardship, under-represented population in college, or in need of supplemental support. While the communities that attend Stevenson are often viewed as affluent, it is estimated that we have between 100 and 200 students that fit one or more of these categories. As a former volunteer in the school nurses office, I have seem firsthand that this “hidden” need exists at our high school. With five students in this initial year, the S2C program is providing individualized mentoring, coaching and tutoring, help with the college search and selection, essays, scholarship and financial aid applications, tuition assistance, and other college necessities such as laptops. Through the six years of the mentoring experience, the relationship with the students is designed to continue through college to provide long-term support towards achieving their degrees.

I think this new program is ambitious, exciting, and one that our community has the potential and resources to make succeed. Besides donations, the Stevenson Foundation is also looking for community members to serve as volunteer mentors. Program Manager Breann Whitford gave a presentation in March to the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer and Hawthorn Woods, which is where I first became acquainted with the idea. Last week I attended a private gathering with many of the Stevenson Foundation Board members, administrators, and mentors who are already working with the current students in the program. It has certainly motivated me to consider becoming a mentor! If you would like to find out more about this program or others please visit their website at www.StevensonFoundation.org.


A Model Citizen

Sharing a light-hearted moment with emcee Bonnie Conte of Avalon Salon in Deerpark, at the May 5th Long Grove Fashion Show at the Grove Country Club.

Sharing a light-hearted moment with emcee Bonnie Conte (right) of Avalon Salon in Deerpark, at the May 5th Long Grove Mother’s Day Fashion Show at the Grove Country Club.

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that male politicians don’t get asked to model in many fashion shows. If they do, I’m pretty sure it does not involve wearing a dress, high heels, and lots of accessories (let’s not even mention the indignity of spanx!) Last month I was asked to help support a local not-for-profit group by modeling in their “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” fashion show fundraiser. The Caring Women’s Connection helps a number of organizations and programs in Lake County serving women and children such as: A Safe Place, Lake County Haven, Mount Saint Joseph, Stuben House, and scholarships for deserving high school seniors. I was happy to assist in raising funds for these worthy causes…but modeling? Did they know that my last experience walking the runway was circa 1975, wearing my hand-crafted, (blue-ribbon winning!) 4-H sewing project at the McLean County Fair? These days I’m more accustomed to making speeches or running public meetings, but anything for a good cause, right?

The day was actually a lot of fun and I got the chance to make connections with some fantastic women. The dress that I showcased came from Fashion In Motion, which is a pink mobile truck featuring beautiful clothes and accessories for sale instead of tempting food items. For more information on the work of this dynamic and caring group of ladies visit their website at CaringWomensConnection.com.

Backstage with fellow models Cris Grooms (center) and Rita Foley (right) at the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Fashion Show sponsored by the Caring Women's Connection.

Backstage with fellow models Cris Grooms (center) and Rita Foley (right) at the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Fashion Show sponsored by the Caring Women’s Connection.

Another local fashion show was held last week in Long Grove and this time my support came by way of raffle tickets purchased, boutique shopping, and cheering on the efforts of our hometown merchants. Over 150 fashionable ladies gathered to see the newest looks of the season just in time for Mother’s Day, courtesy of Long Grove boutiques Olivia’s and Bella Donna. It was a delightful evening of shopping and conversation with friends and neighbors, with the raffle proceeds going towards the fight against breast cancer. Here’s to high style, philanthropy, and lots of lovely ladies!

Boutique owners (L to R) Mira Pinscher of Bella Donna and Lynne Jankovec of Olivia's Past walk the runway to celebrate the conclusion of another successful fashion show.

Boutique owners (L to R) Mira Pinscher of Bella Donna and Lynne Jankovec of Olivia’s walk the runway to celebrate the conclusion of another successful fashion show.

A Visit with Marcie and Blondie


Hi!! My name is Marcie and Village President Underwood (pictured with me above) has invited me to be her very first guest blogger on “Life In Long Grove.”  How did this happen? Well, we became friends when I visited Mangel’s gift shop this past weekend with Blondie, another puppy up for adoption, and our volunteer buddies from Save-A-Pet (pictured below.)


We love Long Grove!! Merchants here provide water for us and sometimes treats! And the wildlife smells are captivating–so many squirrels! But I’m getting distracted…you probably want to know why we were in Mangel’s lovely shop today.

You see, Blondie and I are looking for a forever home. The nice people at Mangel’s were giving a portion of their proceeds today to support our no-kill shelter, Save-A-Pet. This is a great place in nearby Grayslake that serves as a safe haven for abused, neglected, injured or lost animals. They help give dogs and cats a second chance and serve to foster young kittens and puppies until we are old enough to be adopted. Blondie and I are old enough now!! Village President Underwood adopted her cat from our shelter many years ago, so she can vouch for the care we receive. But as nice as the folks are at Save-A-Pet, what we are really wishing for is to be part of a loving family. You can find out more about us, and about other ways of supporting our non-profit organization by visiting our website at saveapetil.org. Come visit our adoption center at 31664 N. Fairfield Road in Grayslake.

It was so much fun spending the day in Long Grove and making a whole bunch of new friends. We discovered lots of reasons to bark less and wag more! Blondie and I really like this town and could be very happy living here…

Holiday Support for Veterans

Rotarians (L to R) Ross Spencer, Jim Runnfeldt, George Dorner, Karl Riehn, and Robert Mintz prepare to deliver Thanksgiving meals to area Veterans.

Rotarians (L to R) Ross Spencer, Jim Runnfeldt, George Dorner, Karl Riehn, and Robert Mintz prepare to deliver Thanksgiving meals to area Veterans.

Smokin’ T’s in Long Grove is hands-down my favorite place for BBQ. But my love for this restaurant grows even greater this time of year because of what they do for our Veterans.

Chef Tom Gescheidle and his family are the owners of Smokin’ T’s, and since 2008 they have offered the Military Meal Deal Program. Each year the staff spends hundreds of hours preparing over 6,000 pounds of fully cooked holiday meals which are then delivered at Thanksgiving and Christmas to the individual homes of over 150 Lake County veterans. Each meal is completely cooked and ready to feed between 9 and 12 family members.

The restaurant works closely with the Veterans Assistant Program to help those military families most in need of supplemental nutrition. Bringing families together over the holidays with healthy food lets the veterans know others are thinking of them and is a real cause for celebration.

I really like this program not only for the way that it honors our local veterans, but also because it gives customers and local groups the opportunity to give back. Long Grove families like mine have an easy way to directly make a difference by donating meals. Local service groups such as the Rotary Club of Long Grove, Kildeer & Hawthorn Woods and students from Stevenson High School get to thank the veterans themselves while personally delivering the meals on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. This program is a win-win for everyone involved!

It takes a lot of hard work and organization to make this happen every year, and for the last eight years the Gescheidle family has done a wonderful thing for our community. For this reason I have recently nominated them for a local award. Keep your fingers crossed for this business to be recognized when the winners are announced in a few weeks.

As we all prepare to gather with our families I wish you a holiday table filled with warmth, delicious food, and love!

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!

Honoring the Heroes of 9/11

The newly dedicated Heroes of Freedom Memorial in Wauconda.

The newly dedicated Heroes of Freedom Memorial in Wauconda.

This morning I had the honor of attending a dedication ceremony for the new Heroes of Freedom Memorial in our neighboring community of Wauconda. Frank Bart, Mayor of Wauconda extended a personal invitation to me to attend, and I am so grateful that I took the opportunity. This memorial has been years in the making, and is a tribute to those who sacrificed so much on September 11, 2001 and for those who have served in the years since in Afghanistan and Iraq in the Global War on Terrorism. The impressive memorial features a 19 foot tall beam from the World Trade Center North Tower, set on a Pentagon base, surrounded by four benches representing each of the four hijacked planes that crashed that morning.  The memorial was constructed entirely with donated items, labor, services, and funds from Wauconda and the greater community.

Mayor Bart, himself a veteran, opened the ceremony which featured patriotic music from local bands and choirs, along with remarks from dignitaries. Three members of the NYFD traveled to Illinois to attend this service and speak of their experiences that day. Kirk Morris, a Gold Star father of Marine PFC Geoffrey Morris, spoke on behalf of all families who have lost loved ones to this cause. The Morris family has contributed greatly in the creation of this memorial. Dylan Morris took on the management, design and installation of the landscaping as his Eagle Scout project, and as a tribute to his fallen brother. He traveled to Shanksville, PA with his father to bring back soil from the crash site to be used in the raised flower beds.

I was most moved by hearing the words of Lt. Colonel Ryan Yantis, who is a 9/11 Pentagon Survivor. His personal story and remembrances, along with his encouragement to all of us to “continue to do what is right, to do what you can in your own life to serve our country,” was touching and inspiring. Today’s ceremony was an expression of honor, love, and support and I am humbled to have been able to participate.

When Tragedy Strikes

Long Grove house explosion, April 2014

Long Grove house explosion, April 2014

This past Tuesday a tragedy occurred in Fox Lake, a neighboring community in the northern part of Lake County.  An on-duty police officer, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, was shot and killed while pursuing three suspects, who still remain at-large. The fallen officer was a married father of four sons, was well-known and respected in the community for his dedication to working with local youth in the police Explorers program, and was affectionately nicknamed “G.I. Joe.” He was a 30-year law enforcement veteran who was set to retire as soon as this month, according to Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit. As a fellow mayor, I have had the honor of getting to know Donny, and my heart goes out to everyone who is touched by this shocking loss. Mayor Schmit has the difficult challenge of helping his entire community heal from this sudden event, one that made the headlines of national newscasts.

A sudden event happened in Long Grove in April of last year, one that also made the national news. Without warning, a house in Royal Melborne subdivision exploded, leaving nothing but a fiery crater and scattering debris for miles. But for the grace of God, no one was seriously injured. However, eight additional families needed to be evacuated from their homes, and many more in the immediate area sustained moderate to minor damage.  Visiting the disaster site the next morning was sobering and felt like something out of a movie set. That weekend, many community members and groups reached out to me and to the Village to offer assistance and support to the families affected by this shock. One year later, everyone seems to be back on their feet with repairs underway if not already completed. But to this day, I am still giving thanks that I did not have to help my community endure the loss of life that could have so easily happened.

The job title of Mayor includes many duties, some obvious and many unforeseen. Comforting a community in the wake of a tragedy is one role that we all hope to never have to assume.  Mayor Schmit will be spending the holiday weekend paying his respects and helping his residents cope with the aftermath of this past week’s sad events. I know that his inherent kindness and compassion will serve him well in this regard. The people of Fox Lake will lean on one another and join together to honor Lt. Gliniewicz.

Breathe Deep North Shore

With my fellow Mayors and Village Presidents at the Joint Proclamation Ceremony, April 2014

With my fellow Mayors and Village Presidents at the Joint Proclamation Ceremony, April 2014

One important thing that I can do to help others as Village President is to lend my voice in support of worthy causes.  Lung cancer is a disease that has affected members of my community and my own family.  Today was the annual Breathe Deep North Shore 5K run, walk, and balloon launch event held in Deerfield to support LUNGevity Foundation and the fight against lung cancer.  I joined together with 18 fellow Mayors and Village Presidents from the northern suburbs to jointly proclaim today Breathe Deep North Shore Day, and bring awareness to this cause.   Did you know that 1 in 14 Americans is diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime?  Or that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, taking more lives than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined?  These are pretty sobering statistics.  Fortunately, groups such as LUNGevity are working hard to raise funds to have an immediate impact on increasing the quality of life and survivorship of people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments.  By providing community, support, and education for all those affected by this disease, we can all make a difference in the fight against lung cancer.  It is an honor, to play my small part in helping this succeed.