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Brookfield resident Brandon Greco recently returned from El Salvador, where he spent eight days building homes with 29 fellow employees from Thrivent Financial, a nonprofit Lutheran financial services membership organization, as part of the company's Thrivent Builds Worldwide program in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
According to a press release, Greco was chosen to represent the company "because he demonstrated notable performance, passion for volunteering with members and drive to help people become financially secure."
From May 12 to 19, Greco and other volunteers helped build homes - carrying dirt and rock, mixing cement and digging trenches - in a community called "Getsemani," a development that includes earthquake-resistant houses and offers basic services and "social infrastructure," such as green areas and a community center.
"I went on this international volunteer trip to help others, but I, too, was blessed," said Greco in a press release. "Service brings out the best in us - that's the beauty in volunteering. You get the focus off yourself."
I'd be honored
Phyllis Lyons, a parishioner of St. Barbara Church for more than 50 years, was named the 2012 Woman of the Year by the parish's Council of Catholic Women in May.
Lyons, a mother of five, grandmother of 11 and great-grandmother of two, has been a member of the CCW since her children were very young and has been active in the past eight years as president, a position she's held twice. In May she was installed as the group's 2012-13 president.
In addition to being a Eucharistic minister, Lyons is a daily rosary leader, helps count the weekly parish offering, prepares flowers and altar decorations for holy days and launders altar linens at home.
She's served as everything from black jack dealer at the parish's casino nights to cashier at bake sales. Lyons received her award from St. Barbara's pastor, the Rev. Robert Casey, at a luncheon in McCook where all CCW Women of the Year in Vicariate IV were honored.
The North Riverside Public Library recently recognized 18 volunteers by dedicating books in their honor, one for each volunteer.
Volunteers honored included Vivian Furan, Amy Beggs, Peggy Bork, June Melka, Dick Vabro, Carl Rotunno, Ellen Cullinane, Dorothy Hamilton, Marilynne Higgins, Rosemarie Jirasek, Eleanore Spevak, Doris Hullihan, Alice Mickie, Leona Wojtowicz, Margaret Oberholtzer, John Demetrakakes, John Grabowski and Elizabeth Herrig.
Riverside Police Officer John Cairo has been awarded a U.S. Department of Justice grant for law enforcement agencies and municipalities to attend a two-week long DEA training program in Plainfield in June.
Cairo is a member for the West Suburban Drug and Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) task force.
Four local students were recognized at Benedictine University's honors convocation and hooding ceremony in May. Brookfield resident Jennifer Meier and North Riverside resident Kimberly Schaefer were named to the Kappa Delta Pi National Honor Society in Education; Riverside resident Lisa Schwarte was named to the Sigma Beta Delta National Honor Society in Business, Management and Administration; and Brookfield resident Anna Czekaj was named to the Tri Beta Biological Honor Society.
At the May commencement ceremonies at University of Vermont, Anna R. Drake, of Brookfield, received a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience.
On May 19, Riverside resident David Baer graduated from Grove City (Pa.) College with a bachelor's degree in finance.
Brookfield resident Amy Delbecq and Riverside resident Sarah Dudek were named to the dean's list for the 2012 spring semester at Beloit College. To be eligible, student must carry a grade-point average of 3.4 or higher on a 4-point scale.
The following students were named to the 2012 spring semester dean's list at Creighton University in Omaha: Emily Furjanic, of Brookfield, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences; Sarah Furjanic, of Brookfield, a senior in the College of Business; and Nicole Rocconi, of Riverside, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Amanda Miller, of Riverside, graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and art history at Augustana College's commencement ceremony in Rock Island on May 20.
Brookfield resident Katherine M. Sauer and North Riverside resident Joseph Zych were named to the dean's list at Hope College (Holland, Mich.) for the 2012 spring semester. Students must have a GPA of 3.5 on a 4-point scale to be named to the dean's list.
Among those named to the dean's list at the University of Evansville (Ind.) for the 2012 spring semester were Brookfield residents Ross Pietrzak, a global business major, and Jack Sramek, a mathematics education major. Dean's list students must have a GPA of at least 3.5.
Named to the honors list (3.5 GPA or better) for the 2012 spring semester at Dominican University in River Forest were North Riverside resident Lauren Bianco; Brookfield residents Jessica Ferraro, Erwin Kehrt, Kimberly Kwasny and Elizabeth Skokna; and Riverside residents Emily Kincanon and Rachel Kunkel.
Meanwhile, making the dean's list (3.8 GPA or better) at Dominican University were North Riverside residents Rebecca Durec, Kelly Gavin, Jacqueline Glosniak and Danijel Golub; Riverside resident Tiffany Guel-Blanco; and Brookfield residents Jessica Kalinski, Miranda Skeehan, Willa Skeehan and Jacob Smith.
Evgenia Diachenko, of Riverside, was named to the dean's list at DePaul University for the winter quarter of 2012. Dean's list students must achieve a GPA of 3.0 to qualify.
Brookfield resident Jesse Anderson, a senior at Lyons Township High School, was one of four LTHS Advanced Placement economics students participating in the 2012 Illinois Economics Challenge State Finals in April at the federal reserve Bank of Chicago.
The event consisted on individual, team and quiz bowl rounds involving 40 students competing for the championship title. The challenge is designed to recognize AP students who demonstrate high levels of comprehension and application of economics concepts and skills.
Lyons Township High School student Sara Nutley, of Brookfield, has been named photo editor for the Lion, the school's newspaper for the 2012-13 school year. The school announced the newspaper's staff on May 30. The staff consists of juniors and seniors who have a passion for journalism and have excelled in the school's journalistic writing class.
Several Brookfield residents won awards at Lyons Township High School's Media Arts Night of Entertainment (M.A.N.E.) film festival in May, an event that included film screenings and question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers.
Freshman Daniel Dinh was a winner four times for his efforts on animated films completed both solo and with teammates. Other winners for animation included sophomore Bianca Pineda, sophomore Freddy Vallejo, sophomore Sebastian Correa, freshman April Sanchez, sophomore Zach Romero and sophomore Cornell Barnett.