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Sabadosa: A look back through 2012

Updated: January 31, 2013 6:19AM



One of the many benefits of writing Neighborhood articles for publication in the SouthtownStar is being able to connect with my readers in a very personal way.

What also pleases me so much is the opportunity to create new friendships through my writing.

This past year allowed me to write about some exceptional people and events.

It is obvious that we live in a community boasting topnotch schools and school districts. In our neighborhood, students and staff are making a difference.

Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123 had many notable achievements and events this year. I was privileged to write about several of them.

Hometown School held its annual Jump Rope for Heart, where students successfully pledged to raise funds for the American Heart Association and fulfilled their goal in a very big way.

District middle school band students Cole Kareta and Kayla Luznicky brought honor to their school by taking part in the prestigious Illinois Music Educators Association Honor Band Festival.

Recently, Sward School celebrated 60 years of educational excellence.

This past year marked the retirements of a longtime Sward lunch mom, Cheryl O’Toole, along with a memorable District 123 music teacher, Carol Ross.

District 229’s Oak Lawn Community High School Theater Group made us proud by winning the state drama contest play championship title for its production of “Picnic” by William Inge.

In Chicago’s Beverly community, Sutherland School hosted the 10th annual “I Madonnari Neighborhood Street Painting Festival,” which brought together students and local artists. School District 130’s Paul Revere School in Blue Island took part in the first-ever Green Schools Day.

School District 218’s Shepard High School worked with Alsip’s Vicky Ranftl to bring about awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension. They collaborated with the mayors of both Palos Heights and Alsip to do this.

Ranftl’s granddaughter, Tatiana, who has PH, is the catalyst for her work in championing for those who are faced with this challenge.

In our neighborhood, we have outstanding businesses and enjoy supporting them. Rito’s Coffee in Hometown opened its doors and continues to delight the area with its fine Lithuanian cuisine and warm hospitality. Italo-American Accordion Shop is a longtime Oak Lawn business that provides a unique service to music lovers young and old.

Oak Lawn welcomed the return of Arena Lanes, which is again a family-owned and operated business. After 11 years, we were pleased to see the bowling establishment return to the management of the Bard family.

We don’t have to look far to find individuals and organizations to help us refresh and renew our spirits.

Local author and speaker Joe Paprocki gave us new insights into spiritual wellness. Carol Conway, pastoral associate at St. Germaine’s parish, led a retreat called “Giving Yourself a Timeout.” Neighborhood groups such as the Embroiderers Guild at the Oak View Center inspire us to try out new things.

We admire the talent we have among us. The Oak Lawn Writers Group, which meets at Oak Lawn Public Library, held a book signing for four of its new authors.

I wrote about a special recognition in our area involving the former Oak Lawn Metra train station. Dr. Sandra Bury formed a committee that succeeded in getting our train station renamed to “Patriot Station.”

We took time this year to reflect on loved ones we have lost.

I helped to spread the word about Linda Nelson’s “Nick’s Christmas in July” collection for the young heart patients at Advocate Children’s Hospital. Nelson wanted to celebrate the life of her son Nick Nelson, who left us 10 years ago. Nick would have been 27 on Dec. 12.

For Father’s Day, I wrote a tribute to my dad. As a result of that article, I made a new friend, Jo Anne Messina, who reached out to me after reading it. She felt as if I was writing about her own father, whose life seemed to parallel my dad’s in many ways.

Since then, Jo Anne and I have met and shared many hours of conversation. We found we truly have so much in common.

Cathi Stark took us on a trip to Ireland and Scotland through her blog and her recap to me of what she did during that five-week trip of a lifetime. We learned so many outstanding facts about that part of the world from her fascinating perspective.

I wrote about several talented women athletes. Through Danielle Allen and Alyssa De Chene, we discovered that opportunities exist for girls, not only in softball but in girls baseball. The Lady Bulldogs of Richards High School had a great season, and we celebrated with them.

I shared with you several stories about the generosity of those who volunteer. Advocate Christ Medical Center has a wonderful volunteer program. Through the story of Deb Scinto’s Traveling Patriotic Bench we got a glimpse about the generous folks who honor our veterans. The St. Catherine of Alexandria Youth Group continued their annual mission trip tradition, this time to West Liberty, Ky., where they touched the lives of so many in need.

Together we learned more about staying healthy, discovering new ways toward healthier eating; quinoa and other ancient grains; and paying better attention to our sleep needs.

It was truly a “good news” type of year. May you have a most blessed and safe 2013!

Column correction

In my last article about the Traveling Patriotic Bench designed by Deb Scinto, I mistakenly left out a few important items. My apologies.

Here is the corrected list of organizations to whom “Welcoming Home Our Heroes” is dedicated:

Patriot Guard Riders, Warrior Watch Riders, Solders Guardian Angels, Honor Flight Chicago, Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run, Operation: Moms Cookies, Inc., Operation Welcome You Home, and American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association.



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