The Regional Rock Stars is a collaborative effort to highlight the stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things. They’re neighbors, colleagues, co-workers and friends who are making a difference with acts of kindness, hope and gratitude during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three were announced last week and we’re proud to announce today the next set of Regional Rock Stars; we will share stories weekly.
“Congratulations to the Regional Rock Star Nominees! They have gone above and beyond during this difficult time and deserve recognition,” noted Eva Field, President & CEO of Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce. “Hinsdale Chamber is proud to join forces with our partners and look forward to celebrating these amazing people.”
Mayor Frank Trilla, Village of Willowbrook. On his own time and with his own money, Mayor Trilla delivered cases of water and face masks that were badly needed at Chateau Senior Care Facility where a severe COVID-19 outbreak occurred. He met the local manager of Whole Foods to start a program whery seniors could come in early to purchase their groceries. This program has since been adopted by Costco and others. He also, at his own expense, had all Village of Willowbrook police cars sterilized for potential COVID-19 contamination. “I try to help where I can,” Mayor Trilla says. “I have limited talents but they include cleaning and, in this case, sanitizing cars and facilitating water. It was my pleasure to help deliver thousands of masks, gowns and gloves. It was the least I could do.”
Anna Padron Sikora, Pillars Community Health. Anna produces and posts videos in the Community Coping Clips on Pillars Community Health website and social media. They are informative, kind and straightforward. Anyone looking for tips on maintaining mental wellness in these times will benefit. “The more kindness we give, the more “riches” that are returned to us,” Anna says. “We don’t know people struggle with on a daily basis, especially now. All of us have additional layers of stress at this time. We need to extend more kindness to one another.” She explains the videos were a new way to reach out and try to provide comfort to the wider community sheltered in place. “As mental health providers and advocates, we are always trying to reduce stigma around mental health. My wish is that we would talk about mental health as easily as we talk about physical health. We are in the same storm yet we all have different boats. The aftermath will be different for each of us. Always be kind.”
Kendell Sullivan, FocusOm Yoga. Kendell organized a lunch program for the essential staff at Loyola Hospital in Maywood. There are no longer cafeteria services for the hospital staff, so she created a fundraising campaign at the yoga studio to raise money to buy lunch from local restaurants. Kendell extended her hand to help as many people as possible during this crisis. She explains that “None of it would be possible without the group effort that has emerged. What I do affects others, and if I am careless with resources or in the case of the pandemic, only considering my own health, the result may be devastating for someone else.” She goes on to explain that, “When the pandemic began, I was suddenly in a position of closing a business and not working at the hospital because of the halt of elective surgeries. I could see the stress my fellow healthcare workers who had to show up day after day were facing, and I have a connection with an entire community looking for ways to be of service, so my business partner and I began explore how to bring these two together. A very wise woman once told me, ‘Give, give, give, and it will come back thousandfold.’ I have taken this message to heart. If I can show up and be kind, then maybe I can inspire someone to do the same.”
Olivia Wirtz and Chris Vasti, Lyons Township High School. These two seniors created an Instagram page to give classmates a place to celebrate college decisions and feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments. They are making a big difference for parents, families, students and their high school. @lthsseniors2020 now has over one-third of the senior class pictured. Chris says, “I was looking forward to May 1st, when seniors wear college shirts to school; I was devastated to find out that wouldn’t be a reality for us.” Olivia describes their situation as seniors, “In times like these, when no one knows what’s going on, it’s important that people do their part to help keep some sort of order when everything is chaos. With everyone doing their part, we can get through hard times and come out stronger.” She explains that she saw a few other high schools doing similar things, so she, “Decided to take action and make an account for LT where the seniors could submit their future plans. This account makes it special for the seniors to announce their future, whether it’s a university, community college or military plan. I think students really appreciate this account because it brings us together even though we can’t physically do that.” Both students feel that, “If you live by simple acts of kindness and try to be selfless, everything can change. It’s like the snowball effect. If you do something nice for someone, they pass it on and soon enough everyone around you is better off.”
The Regional Rock Stars is a collaborative effort by AMITA Health, Community Memorial Foundation, the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce, West Central Municipal Conference and the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce & Industry. We invite you to share more stories of the individuals who are making a difference in our community so that we can recognize them and be inspired by the ways they are bringing the entire region together. Use this simple form to let us know who you know and who deserves to be recognized.
Individuals will be recognized at a community celebration at the end of the year.