12 Niles Award Winners Named By Chamber of Commerce
With an overwhelming response from the community for nominations, the Niles Chamber of Commerce & Industry has selected the "2013 Niles Night of Roses – A Tribute to Home Grown Success" award recipients. This event celebrates the achievements of 12 who go above and beyond. Congratulate these 12 folks who have been chosen as going "above and beyond" in their service to the community, in various ways.
This year the Bob Wordel Living Legend Award is presented to Norm Stranczek. A Niles resident, an engineer and an irreplaceable gardener at Our Lady of Ransom, Mr. Stranczek leads one of the most responsive St. Vincent DePaul programs providing to the needy. He takes his compassion for others to Africa where he annually spends time to build a school and community in Tanzania.
Business of the Year: Niles Animal Hospital
A local veterinarian who is kind and compassionate towards both his patients and their owners, highly regarded in his field, Dr. Sakas cares for homeless animals, supports local rescues, and educates owners to best care for their pets.
Coach of the Year: Steve Greif
Greif has coached wrestling at Notre Dame College Prep for the past 13 years, challenging his athletes to build skills, maintain academics and strive for high performance. He always reminds his athletes “whatever you choose to do, be the best at it."
Dynamic Parent Volunteer: Mary Krueger
Mary has been serving Culver School and the community for the past sixteen years as a hands-on volunteer. Mary is always involved in the “thankless” jobs that see the task through to completion. She is a volunteer for the Niles Baseball League, the Park District, Culver PTA, and serves as Culver School Board Secretary.
Fire Fighter Hot Spot: Byron Tull
A teacher and mentor to other fire fighters, Brian has been vital in recently saving two patients because of his quick thinking and decisive actions. He has a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and unlimited patience to help others.
Ken Scheel Chamber Member of the Year: Krystyna Koda
Owner and operator of Ridgewood Gardens, Krysytna has built a successful flower shop in Niles over the past twenty years and her extreme generosity has supported many local causes and community organizations in that pursuit.
Niles Citizen of the Year: Chris Zalinski
An active parishioner at St. John Brebeuf, Christopher has volunteered his time and the resources of his local landscaping business to maintain the Niles rain gardens and has been instrumental in the Village’s recycling program. He has given countless hours to the SJB gala and other fundraisers for the school and parish.
Niles Golden Senior: Lucille Kozanecki
A 55-year resident of Niles, Lucille is an inspiration to many, including homebound seniors and the illiterate seniors she helps. She works daily to give back to her community and bridges the generation gap to share her experiences with young people.
Police Officer Special Agent: Roy Balsamo
Officer Balsamo has received numerous Department Commendations and distinguishing letters from citizens throughout his career for his dedication, initiative, leadership and professionalism. He has been described as having an “outstanding level of concern for others, and invaluable kindness.”
Teacher of the Year: Mr. Richard Balentine
The Department Chair for Religious Studies at Notre Dame College Prep, Mr. Balentine inspires students outside the classroom. He takes students to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, and coordinated trips to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. One parent states, that because of Mr. Balentine, “students discover skills they never knew they had, along with an eagerness to serve others in need.”
Unsung Worker “Not Enough Hours in the Day”: Mark Williams
Mark took a failing teen center, oversaw its move to the mall, built its membership and later its expansion. Now, the growing center encourages teens to participate and work with each other. Mark has built a sense of belonging and keeps teens engaged and active. He has secured grants, donations and continues to engage members of the community to strengthen the teen center.
Youth of the Year: Melissa Anderson
A 16 year old high school student, Melissa excels at academics, has a positive attitude, and is active in her school and church. She is a Girl Scout, alter server, and has received awards for leadership. She is an inspiration and a role model.