Amy Jacksic and Kelly Navarro

UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago in June presented its Life Without Limits Award to two Riverside Families — Kelly and Dave Navarro and their sons and to Jake Shevitz and Amy Jacksic for their generous contributions to Seguin’s Secret Santa Holiday program.

The Life Without Limits Award is given to those who have made outstanding contributions to UCP Seguin to benefit the children and adults with disabilities.

For many participants at UCP Seguin, the holidays can be a lonely time. Sixteen years ago, Kelly Navarro reached out to UCP Seguin to ask if there was anyone her family could collectively “adopt” to bring some holiday joy and did so through Seguin’s Secret Santa program.

Since then, the Navarro family – Kelly, her husband Dave, their sons and extended family – have been not-so-Secret Santas for many UCP Seguin participants, often adopting all the residents in a UCP Seguin group home at Christmas time, bringing them dinner and gifts just before Christmas and celebrating with the entire house.

In 2014, 9-year-old Jake Shevitz told his mom he wanted to give all the money in his piggy bank to someone in the community who needed it more.

His mom, Amy Jacksic, showed him some information she had come across about UCP Seguin’s Secret Santa Drive and talked about UCP Seguin residents in Riverside who could benefit from the holiday spirit of giving.

Jake wanted to use his piggy bank contents to purchase gifts for one the residents, but Jacksic had a better idea. She spread the word to Riverside neighbors and friends, and she and Jake collected 36 gifts to donate to the Riverside group home that first year. In the past eight years, they have collected almost 1,300 gifts for people with disabilities served by UCP Seguin.

I’d be honored

Greg Molinari
  • Margaret Connolly of the financial services firm Edward Jones in North Riverside recently earned the firm’s Frank Finnegan Award for her exceptional achievement in building client relationships.
  • Greg Molinari , a circulation assistant at the Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library, was recognized recently by his colleagues for his 25 years of service as a library employee.
Jerry and Diane Balin

Diane and Jerry Balin, residents of Riverside for 45 years, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary recently by renewing their wedding vows at Ascension Lutheran Church with family, friends from the AAUW Riverside Branch board and former fellow Jaycees in attendance.

After a reception at the church following the ceremony, the couple flew to California to continue the celebration with their children, P.J., Brian and Jeff along with their spouses and seven grandchildren.

Part three of the anniversary celebration continued back in Riverside where the Balins hosted a backyard party – pollinator garden in full bloom — for family and longtime friends, two of whom were part of the couple’s wedding party 50 years ago.

Cutting the ribbon

Vanessa Morales

Brookfield resident Vanessa Morales Lopez marked the launch of her new venture Rise Wellness and Therapy, 15 Spinning Wheel Road in Hinsdale, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in July.

Lopez is a licensed clinical professional counselor and the clinical director of Rise, which employs three other clinical associates and provides mental health services to trauma survivors. She also serves as secretary of the Illinois Mental Health Counseling Association and was the initial recipient of the Trinidad Armenta-Aguirre Art Grant.

More information about Lopez and her new practice is available at

On campus

Nora Dachota
  • Nora Dachota, a 2018 graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School graduated in May from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with a B.S. in social science with a focus on military strategic studies and a minor in German.

She has been commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force and will report to Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California, for missile training prior to receiving her permanent assignment.

  • Augustana College in Rock Island announced that Brookfield resident Isabella Perez graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and English during the school’s commencement ceremony in May.
  • Riverside resident Lidija Kutlesa was among the more than 400 candidates receiving diplomas during a commencement ceremony in May at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. Kutlesa earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance.
  • Triton College in River Grove announced that several local students had earned associate degrees or completed certificate programs in August 2022, including Brookfield residents Bryan Doyle, Joanie Brosnan and Damian Jimenez; North Riverside residents Marlyn Flores, Alejandra Valencia, Nora Okere, Valeria Fuentes and Renato Fuentes; and Riverside residents Tatiana Gryczan, Mia Ruffolo, Grace Garbe and Roxanne Schliep.
  • Katie Culloden, of Riverside, was named to the 2022 spring semester dean’s list at Emerson College in Boston. The business creative enterprises major earned a semester grade-point average of at least 3.7 on a 4-point scale.
  • Antonio Vargas, of Brookfield, was named to the 2020 spring semester dean’s list at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, for achieving a semester GPA of at least 3.5.
  • Trevor Bork, of Riverside, and Autumn Rajcevich-Schwer, of Brookfield, were named to the 2022 spring semester dean’s list at Carthage College in Kenosha.
  • Riverside resident Haley Rayfield was named to the 2022 spring semester dean’s list at Ithaca (New York) College.
  • Grace Knowski, of Brookfield, was named to the 2022 spring semester dean’s list at Millikin University in Decatur for attaining a semester GPA of at least 3.5.
  • Sophia Bowie, of Brookfield, earned the distinction of Faculty Honors for the 2022 spring semester at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The designation is awarded to Georgia Tech undergraduates who have earned a 4.0 academic average for the semester.
  • Elmhurst University announced the names of nearly 900 students who earned dean’s list recognition (3.75+ GPA) for the 2022 spring semester, including Brookfield residents Madison Darcy, Amelia Huebner and Cassidy Melone; North Riverside resident Adam Bojovic; and Riverside resident Abigail Salamanca.