Rush Oak Park Hospital honored Riverside resident Adrian Mary Charniak in April as their Volunteer of the Year for the work she has done to connect grandparents with the resources and support they need to raise their grandchildren.

Charniak became involved as a volunteer at the hospital after reading an item in the hospital’s quarterly newsletter for a support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren.

At the time, Charniak’s life was a commotion. She’d just had surgery and her husband was in the hospital. He son had also been sick and her mother had just moved in after the death of Charniak’s father. Together they were raising her grandson.

“I’d been looking to see if there was something out there for us,” said Charniak, in a press release from the hospital announcing the award. “I’ve been going to the support group ever since.”

Now she’s leading the group. The hospital’s Grandparents raising Grandchildren support group is one of three groups that Charniak facilitates. It provides a social network for caregivers raising their grandkids, helping them access information and support, and assisting hundreds of grandparents each year.

“Once they start coming to the meetings, they forma bond and become friends with the other grandparents, which is what they need because in some instances they don’t have any other family,” Charniak said.

The group meets the second Thursday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Rush Oak Park Hospital’s North Conference Room at 520 S. Maple Ave. in Oak Park. register at 708-660-4636.

Top cop honored

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel was honored on May 2 by the Illinois Drug Enforcement Officers Association for his efforts in spearheading legislation for new eavesdropping laws for undercover narcotics officers. The legislation is still pending in Springfield.

I’d be honored

Brookfield residents Teri Marsh-Souders, Judy Ross, Mary Johnson and Sheryl Jedovnicky and Riverside residents Ben Adelman, Joanna Block, Marc Adelman and Joan Canchola were honored for their volunteer service to the Chicago Zoological Society in April at the organization’s annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner.

The local residents were among the 70 volunteers honored by zoo officials. Canchola was honored for her 35 years of volunteering at Brookfield Zoo, while Marsh-Souders was recognized for 25 years as a volunteer. Johnson, Jedovnicky and both Adelmans were recognized for their 10 years as volunteers at the zoo.

Lipinski honored by zoos

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums presented its first annual “Standing Tall for Zoos and Aquariums” award to U.S. Congressman Daniel Lipinski, who represents parts of Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield. His district also includes Brookfield Zoo.

Lipinski received the award on May 11 on Capitol Hill and commemorates the work done by Lipinski as the co-chairman of the Congressional Zoo and Aquariums Caucus.


Twelve patrons of the North Riverside Public Library were the lucky winners in the library’s annual National Library Week raffle.

Sylvia Noth won a Lettuce Entertain You gift card, donated by Newman Architecture; Xochitl Huerta won a Best Buy gift card, donated by Golden Security Insurance Agency; and Alice Mickie and Natalie Jandura won Borders gift cards, donated by the Friends of the Library.

In addition, Michelle Galindo, Diane Henk-Duffy, Joan Konke, Rockiath LaGuide and Kathy Shrutek won tickets to the North Riverside Players presentation of The Fantasticks, donated by the North Riverside Players, and Heather Donnamario, Juanita Glassi and Claire Minchin won “Growing on Green” tote bags.

Patrons were given a raffle ticket for each book they checked out during National Library Week, which was celebrated from Monday through Saturday, April 11 through 18.

On their honor

Brian Kloss and Keith Wonsowski, both firefighter/paramedics with the Brookfield Fire Department, will serve as members of the honor guard during the Tom E. Hartung American Legion Post #1977’s upcoming Memorial Day event featuring The Moving Vietnam Memorial Wall in New Lenox.

The event is open to the public and begins at noon on Thursday, May 26. The post is located at 14414 W. Ford Drive in New Lenox. Call 815-485-4651 or go to


Riverside firefighter Matt Christensen has received his certificate for completing Incident Command Boot Camp. According to Capt. Bill Sherman, who presented the certificate to Christensen, “the role of incident commander may be one of the most pressure-packed on the fireground. Making your decisions based on risk management and crew safety while balancing the need to attack the emergency are tough for the most seasoned officer.”

On campus

Anna Lendabarker, of Brookfield, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois-Chicago Honors College and College of Nursing on May 5. Lendabarker was selected for membership in Sigma Theta Tau, the national nursing honor society. She was a two-time recipient of the UIC Leadership and Community Service Award and was recognized by inclusion on the dean’s list in each semester of her undergraduate career.

Brookfield resident John Kissane graduated May 14 from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He is the son of Jack and Carol Kissane.

Several Brookfield residents were among the many Lyons Township High School students who earned honors for their performance on the French, Italian and Latin national exams.

Taking the state Level 1A Italian exam, sophomore Catherine Arevalo placed first. In Level 1B, senior Omarr Ramirez placed eighth. In Level 3B, junior Rocio Carballo placed third. In Level 4B, senior Pamela Solares placed fourth.

Meanwhile, on the National French Exam, junior Hanan Yacoub (2A) was awarded a Certificat Laureat National (top 10 percent). Earning a Certificat D’honneur (top 20 percent) were sophomores Stephanie Cordero (3A) and Esther Lee (3A). Earning a Certificat De Reussite (top 50 percent) was freshman Elise Timmerman (1A).

Finally, senior Katherine Sauer earned a magna cum laude designation for her performance on the National Latin Exam.

Sophomore Samantha Lenz was one of eight Lyons Township High School students who competed in the annual National Business Professionals of America Leadership Conference May 4-8 in Washington, D.C.

Lenz placed 67th out of 74 in the keyboarding production contest.

The following local students were named to the third quarter honor rolls at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park:

Named to the A Honor Roll were Brookfield residents Shannon Cawley, Natalie Crisanti, Francis Czerwien, Rachel Dimaranan, Drew Dunker, Justin Letcher, Chris Mandziejewicz, Jacquie Skokna, Evelyn Skokna, Jacqueline Sukacz and Daniel Wulff; North Riverside residents Gianna Milaro and Sarah Wozniak; and Riverside residents Haley Croney, Andrew Golniewicz and Josephine Krajniak.

Named to the B Honor Roll were Brookfield residents Ryan Russ and Rebecca Sukacz, North Riverside residents Joseph Nieminski and Samantha Wilcox and Riverside residents Vincent Hartnett, Guy Merola, Rachel Meyer and Patrick Vrablik.

Brookfield resident Michael Quintana received certification in massage therapy from the College of Allied Health Science at the National University of Health Sciences. He also worked as an intern in the university’s on-campus integrative medical clinic.

Riverside resident Hannah Marie Toriumi was named to the dean’s list for the winter term at North Central College in Naperville. To make the dean’s list, students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.6 for the term.