Indoor ground-breaking

Moraine Valley Community College brought the outdoors inside on Thursday, Jan. 10 to break ground on its Health Education and Wellness Center. The college held the ceremony in the gymnasium complete with hardhats, shovels and dirt for officials who "broke ground" in front of a panoramic projection of the construction site on the gym wall.

The center is expected to open in February 2014. It will encompass more than 100,000 square feet and include a four-lane lap pool, three partitioned basketball courts, fitness center area with machines and weights, several group exercise studios, an athletic training room, a jogging track, and locker rooms. The college is currently in negotiations with a healthcare partner that will occupy space in the building, where its physicians' group can offer health-related programs and services to community members.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended Andrea Ramirez-Justin, Moraine Valley trustee (from left); Elizabeth Gorman, Cook County Board commissioner; Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett; John Coleman, Moraine Valley trustee; Vernon Crawley, president emeritus of Moraine Valley; Sylvia Jenkins, college president; Joe Murphy, chairman of the Moraine Valley board; Palos Park Mayor John Mahoney; Lisa Szynalski, Moraine Valley trustee; Elizabeth Queen of the Chicago Blackhawks Charities; and Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin.

Church Corner

A new group that will aid persons who have experienced the loss of a loved one, job, home or marriage will meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 3 and 17, and March 3 at Pilgrim Faith United Church of Christ, 9411 S. 51st Ave. The group is for anyone who has experienced loss of a loved one, a job, a home or a marriage. Pastor Yvette Eber of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Evergreen Park will co-lead the group along with Pastor Peggy McClanahan of Pilgrim Faith. The public is invited, regardless of faith. For more information contact McClanahan at 422-4200 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Focus on Seniors

Box Lunch

The Oak Lawn Senior Center, 5330 W. 95th St., will hold a box lunch Thursday, Jan. 31 at 10:30 a.m. Wilson and Wilson Law Offices will discuss the five hot topics of elder law including estate planning documents, the new Illinois power of attorney, five wishes document, veterans benefits and the new Medicaid law. Begins at 10:30 a.m. followed by lunch and bingo. Tickets may be purchased for $4 at the Center.

Rules of Road

The Worth Township Seniors will hold a free Rules of the Road class from 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. April 3, June 5, Aug. 7 and Oct. 2. Appointment must be made to attend; call the Worth Township Senior Room at 371-2900, Ext. 28. Worth Township Center is at 11601 Pulaski Road in Alsip.

Meals on Wheels

The Evergreen Park Office of Citizens' Services offers a Meals on Wheels program for village residents 60 years and older who are unable to prepare their own meals. Meals are delivered Monday through Friday. For more information call 422-8776.

55 and Up

Palos Hills residents 55 years and older meet from noon to 2 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at the Palos Hills Community Center, 8455 W. 103rd St. Tickets for events must be purchased one week in advance. Entertainment includes musicians, singers, luncheons, movies, plays and bingo.


The Worth Senior Pinochle club is seeking new members. Membership is free. Visit the group at the Worth Park District Terrace Centre, 11500 Beloit Ave., every Monday and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Games begin at noon. Call 448-1181 for information.

Sons of the American Legion chartered at Marrs-Meyer Post

Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991 in Worth was recently issued a charter for the Sons of The American Legion - Squadron 991.

Newly appointed officers are Rick Nolan, adjutant (from left), Ed Dombrowski, chaplain, Tim Shamasko, sergeant-at-arms, Mark Jezior, senior vice commander and Glenn Kraemer, squadron commander.

Founded in 1932, Sons of The American Legion exists to honor the service and sacrifice of Legionnaires. SAL members include males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the U.S. military and were eligible for American Legion membership. Members of The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion comprise the Legion family, which has a combined membership of nearly 4.2 million.

The SAL's mission: to strengthen the four pillars of The American Legion. Therefore, squadrons' campaigns place an emphasis on preserving American traditions and values, improving the quality of life for our nation's children, caring for veterans and their families, and teaching the fundamentals of good citizenship. Since 1988, SAL has raised more than $5 million for The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation. SAL members have volunteered over 250,000 hours at veterans hospitals and raised over $915,688 for VA hospitals and VA homes. The Sons also support the Citizens Flag Alliance, a coalition dedicated to protecting the U.S. flag from desecration through a constitutional amendment.

Glenn Kraemer states, "I'm honored to have been appointed Squadron Commander of our charter membership. We already have twenty-five new members and we're growing. I look forward to working with our membership locally, as well as nationally, to help raise funds and awareness of many worthy programs supported by The American Legion family."

For more information or to join The Sons of The American Legion - Squadron 991, contact Marrs- Meyer Post 991 at 448-7006 or visit the Post at 11001 S. Depot St. in Worth.

College Foundation helps build bridges

By Laura Bollin

Without the help of the Moraine Valley Community College Foundation, Palos Hills resident John Francey wouldn't have been able to realize his dream of attending college.

Come fall, he will be majoring in criminology and psychology at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Francey, 45, said he is grateful for the foundation's help.

"I'm not your average college student," he said. "I'm a little older than some of the students and some of my professors. I knew the road to gaining an education was not going to be an easy one. I didn't want to just give up because I thought it cost too much."

With the encouragement of his family, Francey applied for scholarships. He is the 2012 recipient of the Sandra Broadbend Scholarship.

"It was a huge honor and relief when I learned I had gotten the scholarship," Francey said. "The scholarship gave me [financial] breathing room. I didn't have to worry about money, I could focus on my studies and not how I was going to pay my bills."

Since the Moraine Valley Community College Foundation began its "Foundation for Success" fundraising campaign in 2008, it has raised $2.8 million. For the final year of the campaign, which ends this year, the challenge is to raise an additional $500,000. The original goal of the campaign was to raise $3 million, but that goal has been bumped to $3.5 million by the end of the year.

At a luncheon celebration Jan. 25, the foundation revealed a glass donor wall in the lobby of the Moraine Valley Business and Conference Center on the Palos Hills campus. The wall lists the names of just more than 300 donors, including the Chicago Blackhawks, which donated $250,000 to the school. The wall was designed by Moraine Valley creative design coordinator Laurie Hoffinger.

Foundation executive director Sue Linn said the funding has provided help for students, including funding for the Performing and Fine Arts Center and has also sent members of the school's soccer and volleyball teams to Europe to play in the intercollegiate games. The foundation helps fund student scholarships and emergency assistance programs, for students who are struggling to stay in school. The foundation also helped fund the Education and Wellness Center, a $34.5 million, 115,000-squarefoot health and wellness facility that will feature a four-lane lap pool, three full-size basketball courts, a fitness center, an indoor walking track, group exercise studios, locker rooms, and an area for a healthcare provider to offer health-related programs and services to community members. The center, which broke ground on Jan. 10, is expected to be completed in 2014.

Assistant foundation director Kari Pantol said it has been amazing how much the Foundation has been able to raise in the five years of the campaign so far.

"It's a celebration of how far we've come and a challenge to push the rest of the way through," Pantol said. "We are really proud of what everyone together has been able to do."

College president Sylvia Jenkins said the fundraising campaign and the college's students are an inspiration to her.

"Sometimes, people are the first in their family to go to college," Jenkins said. "Sometimes, they are parents returning to college, or are those who have a lifelong dream of getting an education, and this is their second chance. All of our students have a unique story, and we are inspired by each of them."

Palos Heights resident Maria DeCaprio-Sunta, an artist, Moraine Valley Community College board of trustees member and alum of the college, said she believes a Moraine education is life-changing.

"I can't imagine this area without the college as a resource," DeCaprio-Sunta said. "It makes education available for every person."

Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett said the college is an important part of Palos Hills.

"Moraine Valley Community College is the economic engine of Palos Hills," Bennett said. "With 20,000 students on campus every day, it doubles our population. The foundation has been a great support to the college, with its support of the Fine and Performing Arts Center and the scholarship programs they offer students."