The following individuals/organizations were recognized in 2014:

  • Janitorial Contract of the Year – John T. Rogers from the Illinois Department of Employment Services
  • Sub-Contract of the Year – Crown Packaging, Merrillville
  • Employment Services Manager of the Year – Jim Henniton of Chili’s in Calumet City
  • Employment Services Employer of the Year – Amanda Smith and Christina Villagomez from Culver’s Evergreen Park
  • Employment Services Employee of the Year – Peter Stazewski, Red Robin in Orland Park
  • Michael L. Colella Community Leadership Award – Bob Hopper
  • Spirit of Sertoma Award – Don Haraf
  • Service to Mankind as Sertoman of the Year Award – DJ Fioretti

Lots of event photos

We thank Sonido for the beautiful music provided during the cocktail hour. The talented duo violists , Kayla Cabrera and Steven Baloue were amazing.  Special recognition was given to Dr. Chris Sarlas who recently retired from the Board after seven years of dedicated service.  We appreciate his many years of volunteer service and leadership.   We also celebrated Sertoma Centre’s top ten achievements with a great deal fanfare!  The pompons and cheering made this one of the evenings favorite moments. There was an original music video starring several Sertoma Centre Consumers was viewed by the audience.  The concept for the video as well as all the filming was provided by Melissa Sands, Consumer Support Services Specialist.  Sertoma Centre was pleased to introduce some of the members of the new Associate Board to the event attendees. They conducted a 50/50 raffle and sold Carson Community Days coupon books as part of their fundraising commitment.

Sertoma Centre was very grateful to the Hickory Hills Sertoma Club and the ACTION Sertoma Club for the checks they presented Gus van den Brink the night of the event. We thank all our attendees and supporters for making this one of the most memorable Annual Award Dinners.


Moraine Valley Community College Comes to Sertoma Centre
Contributed by Laura Gardner, Volunteer Services Manager

Link to more photos on Facebook

On October 7th, approximately 70 staff members from Moraine
Valley’s campus volunteered with our consumers on various fun
projects throughout the two facilities in Alsip. Each year, Moraine
Valley staff and faculty have a “Community Day of Learning” in
which the campus closes and everyone is provided a day of
interesting seminars and informational sessions.

This year, they decided to collaborate with several different non-profits and have their faculty and staff volunteer at these locations for three-hour sessions during their “Community Day of Learning.” Several art groups were formed and volunteers assisted our consumers in making art projects to sell at our
upcoming Holiday Bazaar, scheduled for December 5th.

Some groups helped consumers make tie-dye ceramic tiles, stained glass art on canvases, and snowman ornaments; some even painted on larger canvases in Jackson Pollock style.

Other volunteers created a “Game Day” for our consumers with a huge blow-up bowling set, ring toss, Bozo buckets, and a football toss game. Some consumers paid a visit to a
pumpkin patch and chose one of 50 real pumpkins donated from Moraine Valley to decorate and then take home. Staff from the Moraine Valley Audio Visual Department brought equipment and assisted the consumers in making their own music video.

Consumers not only performed in the video with various props like hats, feather boas, microphones, and inflatable guitars, but they were also able to operate the camera and other equipment.

The day wasn’t all play, however. Individuals from the Employment Services and EDGE Programs as well as Mental Health’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Program participated in mock interviews with the volunteers. There were four mock interview sessions running simultaneously in both facilities. This unique opportunity allowed the consumers to practice for actual interviews in the community because they did not know the volunteers from Moraine Valley. Volunteer Services and our consumers would like to thank Moraine Valley staff for their enthusiasm, smiling faces, donations, and one awesome afternoon of fun activities.

Photo Highlights from High Tea

High Tea Event Photos

Attendees enjoyed a a delightful afternoon of fun, food and fashion.

Sertoma Centre, Inc. and Sertoma Speech and Hearing Center hosted a High Tea Event on Wednesday, June 4 at Crystal
Tree Country Club in Orland Park, IL at 11 am.    More than 160 Guests loved the traditional high tea, music,
raffles, a fashion show by Funkie Fashions and the comedic talents of Comedian
Tracy DeGraaf.  We thank everyone who attended and helped make this a successful event.


ANNOUNCING THE “LIKE US” and Win White Sox Tickets Contest Winner:
CONGRATULATIONS TO JIM PURRAZZO!  Jim, you won the Four White Sox Tickets.  Please message us your address to receive your tickets by mail!
Thanks to everyone who participated in our first Facebook “Like Us” contest.  Keep coming back to our page, we plan to have more contests in the future.

Please Like the Sertoma Centre, Inc. Page or Share the Contest Post. You will help us increase awareness in the community and communicate to supporters, donors, volunteers, family and friends all the great things we accomplish here at Sertoma Centre, Inc.
Sertoma Centre would like to give you 4 free tickets to the White Sox-Giants match up on Wednesday, June 18 at 1:10 pm. The ticket package also includes a parking pass for Lot A, B, C or G.
Just Like the Sertoma Centre, Inc. Facebook page or Share this Contest Post now through June 5 in order to qualify for a chance to Win Free White Sox Tickets contest. The winner will be randomly selected and announced June 6 on the Sertoma Centre, Inc. Facebook page. The winner must contact Suzan 708-730-6208 or Amy 708-730-6206 at Sertoma Centre to claim their prize. Facebook is not liable for this contest.
Rules and Regulations:
Sertoma Centre, Inc.’s Free Sox Ticket Package contest will run from June 2 at 12:00 AM until June 5 at 11:59:59 PM. Entrants must submit to the contest via Facebook within this timeframe.
The winner must like Sertoma Centre, Inc. Facebook page to qualify or Share this Contest Post. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Facebook. The winner may pick up the Sox Tickets and parking pass in person at the Sertoma Centre, Inc. (4343 W. 123rd Street, Alsip, IL) on or before June 17, 2014 or they can be mailed to you once you have contacted Sertoma Centre, Inc.
Employees of the Sertoma Centre Inc.’s Advancement Department are excluded from entry.
Winners of the Best Firehouse Chef Cook-off Set Things A Blaze
Pictured from left to right: Ken Dompling and Joe Dinova, Blue Island Fire Department, Tim Prokop and Tom Dunn, Edward Ambulance Service, Bob Hopper, Lombard Fire Department, Wesley Marvel, Robbins Fire Department, and Jim Leibach, Niles Fire Department.

Sertoma Center, Inc. thanks all the firefighters who participated in the cook-off at the BIG Event on Saturday, May 3 at 115 Bourbon Street to help raise money and awareness for individuals with disabilities.

“The firefighters make the BIG event possible and they really love cooking for the attendees who come out each year to support individuals with disabilities,” states Sertoma Centre’s Director of Advancement and Communications Amy Chmura.

Congratulations to all the winners of the annual cook-off! Firefighter Bob Hopper, of the Lombard Fire Department, took home the trophy for the Best Chili with his Smoke Showin’ Chili. Ken Dompling and Joe Dinova, from the Blue Island Fire Department, won Best Ribs with their Bad Ax BBQ Ribs. Tim Prokop, a paramedic with Edward Ambulance Service in Naperville, won Best Chicken with his White Chicken Chili. Wesley Marvel, from Robbins Fire Department, took the trophy for Best Ethnic dish with his Southern Style Ham. The People’s Choice award was won by Jim Leibach and Steve Zook, of the Niles Fire Department, with their award winning Tiller Boy Ribs.

Christopher Drozd from the Chicago Fire Department Engine 42 participates in the firefighter cook-off each year. He brings along his family and friends to help; and they all have a great time. If you ask Chris why he competes, he will tell you “because it’s a great cause and so much fun!” Chris is very familiar with Sertoma Centre because his daughter Brandi was a staff member at Sertoma Centre. Sertoma Centre strives to provide quality programs and services for more than 750 individuals with disabilities. Individuals served by Sertoma Centre are diagnosed with developmental disabilities that include from autism, Down ’s syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and more. “Fundraisers like BIG Event provide Sertoma Centre an excellent opportunity to communicate to the community what we do and the firefighters help us accomplish this,” explains Chmura.

Guest judges sampled each dish to determine the best Chili, Ribs, Poultry, and Ethnic Dishes. BIG Event judges included Mike Mech, the Bungalow Chef, Anne Marie Saviano, a writer/producer on WGN Morning News in Chicago; Bernadette Shanahan-Haas, the Director of Operations for the Retail Bakers of America; and Rachel Miklas, General Manager for 115 Bourbon Street

Sertoma Centre is grateful to all the chefs who participated this year. They included Chicago firefighters Michael Wielgat from Engine 18 and Christopher Drozd from Engine 42, Lemont firefighter Fred Heller, Lombard firefighter Tim Moran and Crestwood firefighter Jon Bruce. In addition, Sertoma United, Sertoma Centre’s self advocacy group, also participated this year with their Chili United.

The BIG Event was sponsored by the local Sertoma clubs, the Aileen S. Andrew Foundation and many area businesses, family and friends. Sertoma Centre would to thank each of the sponsors and the volunteers who helped make the event a BIG success. Proceeds from the BIG event benefit the more than 750 individuals with disabilities served by Sertoma Centre, Inc.

For more information, call Amy Chmura, Director of Advancement and Communications at 708-730-6206 or go to www.sertomacentre.org. Sertoma Centre, Inc. is a nationally-accredited, not-for-profit agency that provides services to individuals with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities, and/or mental illness.

2014 BIG Raffle Winners

Congratulations to all the BIG Raffle Winners and Thank You for Supporting Us!

Sertoma Centre Foundation Extends a Special Thanks to the John Cosich Family and Proven Business Systems for their Support of the BIG Raffle

Frank Tomecek $10,000

Johnstone Family $1,000

Fran Wallace $500

Leaf Capital $300

Rick Namen $200

Richard Balkcom $ 100

JR Estep $ 100

South Suburban Heating $100


Silent Partner Dinner – Love In Paris

On Friday, Feb. 7 Silent Partner members were recognized for their generous support as our special guests at a a dinner with a Parisian theme.


Beret wearing consumers greeted our guests with a friendly Bonjour!   Silent Partners enjoyed appetizers while listening to classical music performed by musicians Emily and Grace Brown.   Chef Mike from Crazy Fingers Catering prepared a delightful meal with touches of French cusine.

We really appreciated our volunteers for  all the help they provided that evenin.  Volunteers included consumers from Sertoma Centre and the CILA homes as well as volunteer students from Moraine Valley Community College.


To learn more about becoming a Silent Partner, please contact Amy Chmura, Director of Advancement and Communications at 708-730-6206 or achmura@sertomacentre.org.

Consumers Shop, Snack and Sell at the Holiday Bazaar

James enjoyed shopping the bazaar

Consumers from all three of Sertoma Centre’s facilities participated in another successful Holiday Bazaar on Friday, December 6. Some consumers came to shop, searching out the perfect gift for family and friends. Others came to socialize and have a snack from the North Pole Café or the bake shop.


Ebonie takes a break from shopping for piece of cake

Then there were the consumers who had a primary objective, to sell the crafts they had been working on for weeks. They took great pride in being successful at this event, because they knew the money they earned with their crafts would go directly to their department. Some departments use the funds for outings like trips to the museums, some like to treat their work area to pizza other are trying to gather funds for items like a TV.


Patty and Michael were very succesful selling crafts from their work area



We were pleased with the attendance and with how many of consumer families, friends came to support this event. Board member and Sertoma Club member stopped by to check out the bazaar.


Students volunteer from Mt. Greenwood National Jr. Honor Society

We want to say a big thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help. We had so many awesome volunteers who helped prior to the event, or at set-up, during the event and for clean-up. We could not have done it without you!


Winners of the Five Years of Service Award

On November 24, Sertoma Centre consumers celebrated the holidays and their accomplishments during the Consumer Holiday Awards Luncheon held at the Lexington House in Hickory Hills. Almost 300 consumers, staff, family and friends were in attendance.


Enrico and Preston perform together!

Each year the consumers look forward to this event, especially the awards presentation and of course, Enrico Hampton’s “Michael Jackson Tribute. When Enrico makes his appearance you can feel the excitement as the consumers rush to the stage.


Nancy and Santa pose for a picture

In addition to the luncheon, there was a raffle, a photo booth, music and dancing. Back by popular demand, Santa Claus stopped by and was more than willing to have his picture taken with all the guests.



Congratulations to all the consumers who have given Sertoma Center their dedicated years of service.

35 Years of Service – Robert Sniegolski


Cora accepts her 25 Year Award from Paula Phillips and Gus van den Brink

25 Years of Service – Cora Bowden


20 Years of Service – John Mazetis, Annette Rumisek, Mark Mitchell


15 Years Of Service – Colleen Corcoran, Joel Manzo, Jason House, Eleanor Slapa, Beverly Ochylski


10 Years Of Service – Lamar Bradshaw, Algirdas Jurjonas, Wayne Carlson, Leon King,
Michael Corcoran, Jane M. Pisha, Bernard Cronwall, Keidre Pugh, James E. Ellis, Darcel Robinson, Clarence Gifford, Terence Scott, Andre Jordan, Verna Williams,


10 Years of Achievement – Susan J. Hoffman, Lisa E. Scheiber, James Young


5 Years Of Service – Brent Acey, Jozef Molek, Nathaniel James Ayala, Michelle Purrazzo, Mark Blanusha, Charles Robinson, Robert Byrnes, Hanna Salman, Antonio Cherry, Devyani Shah, Ebonie Coleman, James Sumner, Raymond Chiarito, Nicholas Tomaszewski, Margaret Doering, Beatrice Vega, Billy Evans, Kenneth West, Dominique Jones, Preston Williams, Dana Whalen



Agency Hosts Annual Awards  Presentation

Sertoma Centre honored several supporters and volunteers at their 42nd Annual Recognition Dinner on Nov. 7 at Palos Country Club in Orland Park. Honorees were recognized for their contributions to helping the Centre provide programs and services to individuals with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness. Sertoma Centre is a nationally-accredited not-for-profit agency that serves more than 725 individuals each year. The Centre operates three facilities, two in Alsip and one in Matteson, as well as 10 residential homes throughout the Chicago suburbs.


The following individuals and organizations were recognized:


Spirit of Sertoma Award was presented to Joe Racine, resident of Tinley Park and President of In-Print Graphics, 4201 166th St, in Oak Forest. He and his staff at In-Print Graphics print Sertoma Centre’s brochures, newsletters, stationary and the annual report which was given to attendees at the event. In addition, Racine is an active member of the Action Sertoma Club since 1981 and has served on the Club’s Board of Directors and numerous committees.


Service to Mankind Award was presented to Frank Tomecek, a former resident of Palos Park. Tomecek has dedicated his life to the mission of Sertoma and has served on both the Sertoma Centre Boards for countless years. Tomecek is the president of the POW-R (Palos, Orland Park, Worth and Chicago Ridge) Sertoma Club and the guiding force for their annual football bash fundraiser. Mayor of Palos Heights Robert Straz presented the award to Tomecek.


The Michael L. Colella Community Leadership Award was presented to John Hyland from Marist High School, 4200 W 115th St, Chicago. Karen Ramirez, chairperson of the Religious Studies Department at Marist, accepted the award. Four Marist students who are currently volunteering at Sertoma Centre, Inc. were also in attendance. They are Dan Anzelmo, Brooke Schmidt, Ryan Mayer, and Nora Khani. Marist has partnered with Sertoma Centre for more than 20 years providing students an opportunity to volunteer as part of their service program.


The Contract of the Year for Janitorial Services was awarded to Dennis Ridenour from Prestone, an anti-freeze compounds manufacturer located at 13160 S. Pulaski, in Alsip. Prestone has utilized Sertoma’s Janitorial staff for their general cleaning and hard surface floor maintenance since 2001. They are dedicated to the mission of Sertoma and helped create a strong partnership.


The Contract of the Year for Sertoma Centre’s Production Services was awarded to David Brand from La Preferida, Inc. La Preferida has been in the Chicago region making authentic Mexican food since the 1920s. For over 10 years La Preferida has been working with Sertoma Centre, always trying to bring more work to the individuals with disabilities, once such project is the assembling of their retail displays for use in grocery stores.


DRS (Department of Rehabilitation Services) Counselor of the Year was awarded to Kim Mokris, a DRS Counselor from the Wrightwood Office. Mokris’ relationship with Insite Employment Services has led to more jobs for the individuals with disabilities at Sertoma Centre. In addition, she has been instrumental in ensuring that individuals are getting supplemental things they need such as new work clothes, bus passes, and even prescription glasses. Mokris is a great example how a funding source and community agency working in tandem leads to positive outcomes for the individuals served by both Sertoma Centre and the Department of Rehabilitation Service.


Insite Employer of the Year was awarded to the Marshalls Store in Oak Lawn. Marshalls has been a valuable asset to job seekers at Sertoma Centre. Hiring Manager Katherine Krenze holds mock interviews, gives valuable feedback and even speaks at the Insite Job Readiness Class. Since working with Marshalls, two individuals with disabilities have been hired there.


The Insite Employee of the Year is Victor Hojek. A participant in Sertoma’s Insite Employment Services program, Hojek works at Meijer in Evergreen Park as a utility clerk. Hojek is an individual who is a perfect example of how Sertoma Centre services should operate. He started in the school transition program in 2005 and aged out at the end of 2009, at that time he began working with Insite program. Despite a difficult job market, Victor had patience and kept working hard at his job search.


For more information, to schedule a tour, volunteer or to make a donation, please contact Amy Chmura, Director of Advancement and Communications, Sertoma Centre, 4343 West 123rd Street, Alsip, IL 60803. (708) 730-6206, or achmura@sertomacentre.org. For additional resources visit www.sertomacentre.org.


Peg and Beverly

The Residential Department hosted their annual Halloween Party on Friday, October 18 at our facility on 127th street.

The evening included pizza, soda, games, music and much more.






There were lots of scary characters in attendance and the consumers who participate in our residential program had a spook-tacular time.




Denice and Jerry

Richard and Eleanor

DSP Cafe Was A Sweet Retreat!

Sertoma's Executive Director Gus pours a cup of coffee for DSP, Giedre.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, Sertoma Centre provided their Direct Support Professionals a complimentary coffee cafe. The staff lounge was decorated to look like a cozy cafe. Sertoma Centre Managers served coffee, iced coffee, tea and sweet treats like mini cinnamon rolls and kolacky cookies to their DSP team.

DSPs, Sherri, Lauren and Kim enjoy a break a the DSP cafe.

On Monday Sertoma acknowledged our DSPs with banners in all their facilities with “Great People Doing Great Things” banners and by wearing Sertoma teal. A gift basket raffle was held on Tuesday and there are special activities planned for the rest of the week. Check back to see more about how we celebrate our DSPs!

Director of Residential Services, Kim serves DSP, Lori some delicious kolacky cookies.

Sweets for the Sweet - DSPs, Stephanie, Selena and Mel enjoyed the ice coffee and a few sweet treats.

DSP Week at Sertoma Centre!
What is a DSP?
A direct support professional (DSP) is a person who assists an individual with a disability to lead a self-directed life and contribute to the community, assists with activities of daily living if needed, and encourages attitudes and behaviors that enhance community inclusion.

Lori, Rhonda and Tiffany are Direct Support Professionals who dedicate themselves daily to serving individuals with disabilities at Sertoma Centre, Inc.


Target Volunteers plant flower boxes in front of the Ridgeway residential home

The 11 Crew Members from Target in Crestwood, IL

Youth ministry voluntees help plant flower plots to adorn the Alsip residential home deck.

Consumers worked with volunteers from the youth ministry of St. Daniel the Prophet Church in Chicago.

Sertoma Centre was very lucky to have two new groups volunteer with us during the month of July.  Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Gardner was contacted by United Way of Metropolitan Chicago to see if Sertoma Centre would welcome a group from Target who wanted to volunteer with an agency near them.  On July 10th, 11 crew members from Target in Crestwood, IL came out to the Ridgeway residential home to clean out the shed and plant flowers in the front of the house.  The shed had not been cleaned out in years, and is one of those jobs which needed to be done, but there never seems to be any time to do it.


The Target volunteers were enthusiastic about cleaning out the shed and removed items which were taken to the dumpster.  While the hard working crew was in the shed, other Target volunteers set to work beautifying the front of Ridgeway home by planting flowers in the two flower boxes located in the front of the house.  All of the flowers, dirt and storage cases were donated by Target in Crestwood.  Ariane Arlie, coordinator for Target’s volunteer projects said, “Target is truly dedicated to helping out the surrounding communities and they were happy to volunteer at Sertoma Centre”.


The next day, Sertoma Centre was treated again to a wonderful group of volunteers from the youth ministry of St. Daniel the Prophet Church in Chicago.  Annette Danielewicz who is the director of the youth ministry for the church brought a group of youths with her to help plant a long awaited garden at the Alsip residential home.  Alsip home has a huge backyard and the ladies of that home have been wanting a garden for some time.  The youth group helped till and prepares the soil for planting tomatoes, radishes, carrots, squash and pumpkins.  The ladies of the Alsip home took the afternoon off from programs at Sertoma and helped the youth group plant the garden and several large pots of flowers that now adorn their deck.  All the ladies at the Alsip home had a wonderful time interacting and working alongside the youth ministry.  Annette said: “they were happy to volunteer at Sertoma and look forward to coming out again in the near future”.  All of the youth worked really hard and the result is a beautiful garden which will hopefully yield fresh veggies for the house to enjoy all summer long.


Sertoma Centre is always looking for individuals or groups to volunteer at the agency.  We have been working with local schools, churches and other organizations to help foster community integration and opportunities for the individuals we serve.  If you are part of an organization, company or an individual who would like to volunteer, please contact Laura Gardner at (708) 730-6211 or lgardner@sertomacentre.org We always have fun and creative ways to volunteer!!

Tinley Park Sertoma Club Recognizes Sertoma Centre, Inc.
Non-Profit Organization Celebrated for Contributions to the Community

Several members of the Tinley Park Sertoma Club hosted an appreciation dinner to recognize local charities for their work in the community.

Alsip, IL July 3, 2013: The Tinley Park Sertoma Club recognized Sertoma Centre, Inc. for their dedication and hard work in the community at their annual appreciation dinner. The dinner was hosted on Wednesday, June 19, at Ed & Joes Restaurant in Tinley Park.
The Tinley Park Sertoma Club, chartered in 1983, consists of men and women from Tinley Park and surrounding communities who enjoy helping people. Tinley Park Sertoma Club is part of Sertoma, Inc., an organization of service clubs across the United States and Canada which was founded more than 100 years ago by volunteers with a purpose to meet the needs in the communities they serve. The name is an acronym for Service to Mankind. Through their many fundraisers, the Sertomans of Tinley Park support local charitable organizations and individuals in need of assistance. All funds raised by Tinley Park Sertoma Club remain in the community and provide support for local programs.
During the course of the evening, a representative of Sertoma Centre, Inc. was asked to speak to the attendees about recent developments. Tinley Park Sertoma Club members presented a donation to Sertoma Centre to help further their efforts within the community.

Ignite the Light, the Volunteer program at Sertoma Centre, has seen a wonderful increase in the amount of youth that are volunteering with the agency. Through outreach efforts and family involvement, more and more young kids, mostly aged 12 to 18 are volunteering on their own, through school requirements or religious organizations. According to a fact sheet released from the University of Nevada, the following benefits are awarded to youth who volunteer in their communities: Young people who volunteer are more likely to have a stronger work ethic, are 3x more likely to volunteer as adults, gain important job skills and experience while exploring career options and are able to expand their social circle and enhance their social awareness. And 81% of Americans who have volunteer experiences when they are young give to charitable organizations as adults. This is great news for Sertoma Centre as we expand our youth volunteer opportunities.

In June, 21 National Junior Honor students from Mt. Greenwood school, along with two of their teachers volunteered with our consumers for a day of fun activities run entirely by the students. Consumers participated in five different activity stations including bingo, arts and crafts, indoor bowling, freeze dance and Pictionary. The 6th, 7th and 8th grade students from Mt. Greenwood were amazing. They were so polite, very interactive with our consumers and when the fun started they jumped right in and volunteered with us for several hours. When asked how the volunteer event went for them, the students said they had a great time and felt that bowling and bingo were the biggest hits of the day.

This Volunteer “field trip” is not the only event to see more youth volunteering at Sertoma Centre. We have welcomed young volunteers at our Super Sale, Big Event, Silent Partner Dinner and our Holiday Bazaar. Our youngest volunteer to date, little Anne Gardner, age 8, said she had the “best day ever” volunteering for our recent Autism Jamboree on June 14th. Anne and her brother, Joshua, age 12, ran the ring toss at the event and enthusiastically cheered on consumers as they won prizes for playing the games.

Our Ignite the Light Volunteer Program is a perfect opportunity to expose your kids and family to a great time while helping others in the process. We are looking to expand our volunteer relationships to other schools, churches, and even local boy or girl scout troops. If interested in volunteering, please contact Laura Gardner at (708) 730-6211 or email her at lgardner@sertomacentre.org.


2013 High Tea Photos

The  fourth annual High Tea was held Wednesday, June 5 at the Crystal Tree Country Club in Orland Park.  This special event was co-hosted by Sertoma Centre, Inc. and Sertoma Speech and Hearing Centre.   We thank all the attendees and those who contributed to the success of the High Tea.

The photography included in this post was graciously provided by Backbeat Photography in Tinley Park, www.backbeatphotography.com

Announcing the 2013 BIG Event Raffle Winners

To the 2013 BIG Raffle Winners

NameAmount won
Peter Ambrosino$10,000
Chicago Lawn Sertoma Club$1,000
Rick & Mark Joiner$500
Bryan Sord$300
Mike Vanier$200
Dick Schmaedeke$100
Chicago Lawn Sertoma Club$100
John Mitchell$100

Left to Right: People's Choice Winners: Joe Dinovo & Ken Dompeling, Blue Island Fire Dept., Best Ethnic/Other: Christopher Drozd, Chicago Fire Dept. Engine 42, Best Chili: Bob Hopper, Lombard Fire Dept. Station 1, Best Ribs, Steve Zook & Jim Leibach, Niles Fire Dept.

SouthtownStar Newspaper
Aileen S. Andrew Foundation
Action Sertoma Club
Chicago Lawn Sertoma Club
Lemont Sertoma Club
POW-R Sertoma Club
Hickory Hills Sertoma Club
The Lombard Company
MPS Mulcahy, Pauritsch, Salvador & Co.
Proven Business Systems
Knights of Columbus
Great Lakes Bank
Ram Products, Inc.
D.M. Dykstra & Company
ESPO Engineering Corp.
Plastipak Packaging, Inc.
EXPO Answers
Tinley Park Sertoma Club
City of Palos Heights
Beggar’s Pizza
Denton Cartage
Pronger Smith Medical Care
Alliance Insurance/ Dom Porto
Stronghold Construction
Ultra Foods
Willow Florist
Mike’s Barber Shop
American Heritage Sertoma Club
Budget Sign Service
Fanning Communications
G & L Fire Gifts
Game Pazzo
Image Pact
The BIG Event this Saturday!

Sertoma ready
for biggest fundraiser


Sertoma Centre Inc., which helps individuals with disabilities, is
gearing up for its 10th annual BIG Event, featuring a cook-off among
area firefighters,

2013 Housewares Vendor List

Check this out!  The Housewares Super Sale will feature brand new merchandise from these manufacturers.


ARC International

CCA International

Certified International Corp.

Focus Electric



Hanna’s Candles

Home Essentials

Libman Company

Lipper International

Northern Labs

Old Williamsburg Candles



R Squared (Formerly Zrike)



Stonewall Kitchens


Vessel Glassware


Wilton Armetale


It was smooth sailing at the Silent Partner Dinner on Friday, February 8.

We thank those who helped make this evening possible:

  • Culinary Creations by Angie
  • Lisa Scherer of Aged 2 Perfection
  • Oak Lawn Hilton Consumers from Sertoma Centre and the CILA Homes
  • Sertoma Centre Volunteers

Special Thanks to Those Who Generously Donated Items for the Raffle:

  • Egon and Dorothy Menker
  • Jenny’s Steak House
  • Patio Restaurant

Silent Partners – Their Generosity is our Anchor, and their Support Keeps us on Course.


Together We Cope Benefits from Sertoma United Food Drive

Sertoma United Members (left to right) Baltazar Alpuche, Archie Garrett, Derrick Hudson and Tanya Crew, delivered a vanload of food, diapers, clothing and personal hygiene products to Together We Cope in Tinley Park, IL.

Sertoma Self-Advocates Pay It Forward

Sertoma Centre, Inc. is a social service agency serving individuals with disabilities which depends on the community for support. Those who provide financial support or donate their time often feel good about making a difference in the lives of others. Sertoma United members also enjoy the feeling of paying it forward. On Friday January 4th members of Sertoma United delivered a vanload of non- perishable items to Together We Cope in Tinley Park, IL. This is their 3rd food drive and the second year they donated to Together We Cope.

Their timing could not have been better with so many food pantries and crisis centers running on empty after the holidays. The group also felt that since our country has been struggling through tough financial times, there was no more important time than now for this project.  Sertoma United is Sertoma’s Self Advocacy program which encourages its members to advocate for themselves and others. Member, Derrick Hudson said, I want to thank Together We Cope for helping to get food to those people who need it. I would like to participate with Together We Cope more in the future.” The program seeks to teach individuals with disabilities at Sertoma Centre the skills to advocate for their goals and desires in life. For more information about this program please contact Melissa Sands at 708-730-6343 or msands@sertomacentre.org.

Together We Cope is a not-for –profit that serves families and individuals who are going through a crisis. The organization provides clothing, food, financial assistance and guides families in more than 20 communities throughout Bremen, Palos, Orland and Worth townships.

Sertoma Centre, Inc. is a nationally-accredited, not-for-profit agency that provides services for more than 725 individuals with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities, and/or mental illness. For more information, to schedule a tour, volunteer or to make a donation, please contact Amy Chmura, Director of Advancement and Communications, Sertoma Centre, 4343 West 123rd Street, Alsip, IL 60803. (708) 730-6206, or achmura@sertomacentre.org. For additional resources visit www.sertomacentre.org.


Over 300 people attended the event.

Sertoma consumers know how to have a good time.   They enjoy, good food,  great music, and an nice award presentations.  However, if you throw in photo booth and a Michael Jackson impersonator then you really have PARTY.    The more than 300 guests who attended this event had an awesome time at the Lexington House in Hickory Hills on Dec. 2.

Rico the Michael Jackson impersonator, got the crowd on their feet.

The consumers, their families and many of the Sertoma staff  joined together to celebrate the holidays and the consumers achievements.   Each year at the luncheon, service awards are presented to consumers who have been with Sertoma Centre for a significant number of years.  Those with 5 years receive a certificate.   Individuals  with 10, 15, 20, 30, 35 and 40
years of service are presented with engraved plaques by Gus van den Brink, Executive Director of Sertoma Centre, Inc.

Special thanks the staff committee who plan this event each year. They work hard to insure that everyone has a wonderful time.




Some of our wonderful volunteers!

Submitted by Laura Gardner, Holiday Bazaar Head Elf

I could not let this opportunity go by without thanking everyone for making the Holiday Bazaar such a success.  So many people were involved in creating this wonderful event and I would be remiss not to mention them.

First and foremost I have to thank our Volunteers for whom without you, the Holiday Bazaar would not have been possible.  There were over 25 volunteers that came together that day who put on a marvelous event.  Family, friends, co-workers new and old and even a few high schoolers and one middle school student volunteered in any and every capacity you could think of to create a successful event.

To all our customers who shopped and supported our vendors and programs, thank you for choosing the Holiday Bazaar as one of your shopping destinations this year.

I would also like to thank our Janitorial crew at Sertoma who do a
marvelous job every day, but really helped us out with set up and take down and everything in between.

A big thank you to the transportation department for bringing over consumers from 127th street and Matteson to enjoy shopping at the Bazaar.

Thank you to the 123rd street consumers as they gave up their lunchroom for the day.

We appreciated all the help the team from Good as New provided with set-up and moving the Bazaar materials to the second floor!

Also a HUGE thank you to all our vendors who created and tinkered and glue gunned and crafted to make such lovely gifts for all to buy.  We hope to see more in house vendors next year.  A huge “WAY TO GO” to all our gift wrapping elves, especially from PepsiCo and our community who wrapped all gifts purchased at the Bazaar for FREE.

And of course to all the staff, family and friends who donated gift wrap, tissue paper, holiday bags, tape, ribbon, decorative boxes, craft items, Good as New items, and of course baked goods (YUM) a super duper colossal THANK YOU!! I keep asking and you keep delivering—your generosity is AMAZING!

I would also like to thank my wonderful Advancement team mates for keeping me sane and for all you did to help pull this Bazaar together:  from creating crafts at Good as New, to making beautiful signs, to hanging decorations in stocking feet – you all make my job a wonderful thing to treasure!  Thank you again to everyone who helped make the Winter Wonderland Holiday Bazaar such a phenomenal success!

With much gratitude,
Laura Gardner
Holiday Bazaar Head Elf

Welcome to the Holiday Bazaar
Holiday Bazaar – Huge Success
Welcome to the Holiday Bazaar

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland Holiday Bazaar

If you were not able to attend the Holiday Bazaar held on December 7th, there is always next year, but you missed out on a great time.  Attendees were treated to wonderful day of shopping, browsing, eating, laughter and good cheer as everyone hunted for that perfect Holiday Gift.  The North Pole Café served hot dog and hamburger meals while Holiday music played in the background.  You could even enjoy coffee, hot cocoa and a baked treat from Mrs. Clause’s Bake Shop.  All the elves in the gift wrap station were tuckered out from wrapping gifts purchased at the Bazaar.

Many consumers, family and friends joined the fun and frivolity the first week of December to help ring in the Holiday, Cheer.  Above everything else, as I looked upon the Winter Wonderland before me, I was struck by the camaraderie and generous spirit of Sertoma Centre.  There were so many staff, consumers and volunteers all working together to ensure everyone had a wonderful time.

Seeing our consumers interacting with one another as they shopped for gifts for loved ones, touched me deeply as I realized this is what it is all about: the Human Spirit.  I realized that I am so lucky to work at a place that helps people foster their spirit as they strive for their own personal successes every day.  Sure some people may say, “it was only a Bazaar, a place to shop like every other day.”  But that’s the catch: for some of our individuals they don’t have the same opportunities that we do to do everyday things such as shop in a marketplace and buy a gift for someone they love.  That was the sole driving force behind the Holiday Bazaar-giving everyone the chance to spread their own Holiday magic for the people they care about.

So if you didn’t get a chance to stop by this year, mark your calendar for December 6th, 2013 as the Bazaar promises to be bigger and better next year.   On behalf of Sertoma Centre and Volunteer Services, we hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and
good luck for a fabulous New Year!    More Event Photos!

Sertoma Centre held its Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday, October 25th at the Odyssey Country Club in Tinley Park.
Click this link to see all the photos from the event

Welcoming faces at registration (L-R Laura Gardner, Regina Robinson, Archie Garret

This enchanted evening  was organized and hosted by the Annual Dinner Planning Committee whose members include Alex Boerner, Dennis Dureno, Laura Gardner, Allison Kinczyk, Bob Scott, Gail Schenk, Karen Stauder and Regina Robinson.
The room was decorated in purples and blues. Magic hats, wands, balloons, and cards decorated the tables. Each guest received a decorative 5 x 7 picture frame as a gift.

Gus van den Brink shared consumer success stories

Guests were graciously greeted by volunteers and entertained with strolling magic.

Magical entertainment provided by John Measner and his lovely assistant, Robin.

Gus van den Brink shared heartfelt stories of consumers who chieved personal success, the mission of Sertoma Centre.  The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the


Sertoma Centre Recognition Awards.
Janitorial Contract of the Year was awarded to the Illinois Department of Transportation. (not pictured)
Sub-Contract of the Year was awarded to Wilton. (not pictured)

L-R (Lorraine Barnes and Carol DeVries)

Insite Manager of the Year was awarded to Lorraine Barnes of Southwest Community Services. The presenter – Carol DeVries, Job Developer, Insite Training Systems.
Insite Employer of the Year – Dave Peksenak, Manager,  Ultra Foods
Insite Employee of the Year – Robert Mundy. The presenter- Dana McFarlin-Lloyd, EDS Program Coordinator.

Dinner attendees were invited to take part in the on stage magic show as well.

Michael L. Colella Business of the Year was awarded to Corrie Smith, State Use
Coordinator,  Central Management Services (CMS), The presenter, Ike Riley, Janitorial Services Manager.
Spirit of Sertoma Award was presented to Fanning Communications by presenter Amy Chmura, Director of Advancement and Communications.
Service to Mankind Award was presented to  Joe Varanauski, the presenter was John Savaglio, President of the Action Sertoma Club.

L-R (Dave Peksenak, Robert Mundy, Dana McFarlin-Lloyd)

Joe Varanauski

John Fanning, Fanning Communications with staff members.

National Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week

Sertoma Centre celebrated National Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week by recognizing the 115 Direct Support Professionals who are committed to serving the individuals with disabilities.

Special activities and treats were provided each day of the weeklong celebration.

On Monday, all DSP staff received “Great People” buttons and banners were hung at all the Sertoma locations thanking “Great People Doing Great Things”.

Tuesday included a “Lunch on Us Raffle” where winners at each location received a gift for a free lunch.

On Wednesday there were beautiful cakes served at the Sertoma locations and cupcakes for the CILA homes.

Thursday morning,  DSPs enjoyed complimentary coffee and snacks served in the staff lounge – which was decorated like a Coffee Cafe.

The finale on Friday included a tailgate lunch and Jersey day – which featured grilled burgers and dogs, plus tons of delicious side dishes provided by Sertoma Staff. Sandra Baker, a Direct Support Professional with Sertoma for eight years said, “[The week was] very nice, and much appreciated. Thanks to all who took the time to make us feel appreciated.”

Sertoma Centre is extremely proud of our DSP staff and thank them for the Great Work they do each day.

Sertoma Centre is Named Abby Foundation Grant Recipient
Sertoma Centre, Inc. recieved one of the six Abby Foundation Grants which were awarded on Friday, August 17th at their annual luncheon held at the Tinley Park Convention Center.

Regina Robinson, Lynn King, Laura Gardner, Amy Chmura were thrilled to be awarded the Abby Foundation Grant.

The luncheon included an exhibt area where Sertoma Centre provided attendees an opportuntiy to learn more about the many programs and services Sertoma Centre offers individuals with disabilities in the community.

The Abby Foundation’s mission: raise money and distribute it to established nonprofit organizations, who apply for a grants that help women and their children and fund scholarships for both young women and returning women.

Sertoma Centre requested the grant to expand the “Our Rights, Right Now” Healthy Relationships Group which focuses on prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault for women with disabilities. The goal of this group program is to educate women with disabilities about domestic violence and sexual assault awareness and prevention, rights and resource options. The expansion of the program will include curriculum materials to add training modules focused on healthy relationships, sexuality, family planning and communication and interactions with significant others (such as partners, family members and legal guardians).

Funds will also be used to develop a speaker’s series with professionals in various related industries and an agency-wide awareness and education event that will be planned and implemented by the women in the group.






Sertoma Centre’s 41st Annual Recognition Dinner
Join us for a captivating evening!
Celebrate the Magic of Sertoma Centre
Thursday, October 25, 2012
We have a very special evening arranged for you at
19110 South Ridgeland Avenue, Tinley Park, Illinois 60477
5:30 pm –  Cash Bar- Cocktail Reception
6:00 pm – Dinner, Entertainment, Awards Presentation
Please R.S.V.P. by October 11, 2012 to
Regina Robinson, Special Events & Grants Manager
email: rrobinson@sertomacentre.org or 708-730-6210


Sertoma Centre celebrates our four-legged friends each year with Bring Your Dog to Work Day.   As part of our special day, Bill Downs and his CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) service dog Garrison demonstrated several of the 40 commands Garrison can perform.



Left to right; Bill Downs, Garrison, Fennel, Tom Dornback

Tom Dornback, a volunteer puppy raiser brought his puppy, Fennel to explain the 18 month process of raising puppies. Tom shared how much he enjoys training puppies like Fennel to someday be a canine companion for someone with a disability.  Training service dogs like Garrison and Fennel can create life-changing independence for a person with a disability.



Turning on the light

Consumers and staff were amazed by the types of tasks these dogs are able to perform like; turning on the light switch, pulling a wheelchair, opening a door or picking something  up off the floor. Even more astounding, is the amount of time and training that goes into raising the 4 different types of assistance dogs: Service, Hearing, Facility and Skilled Companions.




Canine Companions for Independence is non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. If you are interested in volunteering, raising a puppy, making a donation or applying for a puppy go to cci.org or call 1/800-572-BARK.

Thank you to Bill, Tom, Garrison and Fennel for making our day and also to Jean Henry the volunteer coordinator from Canine Companions International, who coordinated the presentations for Sertoma Centre, Inc.


Andy Avalos, NBC Meteorologist, will MC Action Sertoma Club Golf Outing

Pictured from left to right; Terry Newsome, Andy Avalos of NBC Chicago and Gene Esposito Jr. at Game Pazzo, the World’s Largest Gaming Facility in Downers Grove, IL

Best Golf Outing in the South Suburbs!
The Action Sertoma Club is having their 12th Annual Golf Outing on July 11th, at Silver Lake Country Club in Orland Park, IL.  Registration is at 8:00 a.m., Shot Gun/Best Ball start 9:00 .m., cost $135, includes continental breakfast, Bloody Mary starter, lunch, refreshments on the course, cocktails and steak dinner after golf, prizes and games all day. Men and women golfers are invited to participate. To register, call or contact Joe Varanauski 708-921-0159 or  joev1936@gmail.com.

Andy Avalos appears on NBC5 News Today’s weekday morning newscasts from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.  He has more than 25 years of weather experience at NBC5 and previously at WLS-TV, where he worked as weekend forecaster from 1984 to 1994. Avalos also anchored weather reports on weekday mornings on FM-100.

The Action Sertoma Club is a friend and supporter of Sertoma Centre, Inc. which is a nationally-accredited, not-for-profit agency that provides services to nearly 700 individuals with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities, and/or mental illness.   For more information, to schedule a tour, volunteer, or to make a donation, please contact Amy Chmura, Director of Advancement and Communications, (708)730-6206 or achmura@sertomacentre.org. at Sertoma Centre, 4343 West 123rd Street, Alsip, IL 60803. www.sertomacentre.org.

Carver High School Class Reunion Makes Donation

Pictured: Curtis Harrell, Lorez Stevens, Rev. Kenneth Lee, Suzan Simmons and Andre Moore

On Saturday June 8th, the classmates of Carver High School Class of 1982 celebrated their 30th graduation anniversary at Orland Chateau.  Wishing to make a difference and give back, the class reunion organizers decided to collect donations for a cause near and dear to their hearts, children with autism.  

One in every 88 children in the US has autism. It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. has autism.  Several classmates spoke that evening of how their lives have been effected by having a child on the autism spectrum. 

Rev. Kenneth Lee graciously invited Sertoma Centre to stop by their reunion and speak briefly about Autism.   Sertoma Centre sincerely thanks  Rev. Lee for including us in their celebration and the Carver High School Class of 1982 for their generous donation to the Autism Services Program.

ABC7 Disabilities Segment on Sertoma Centre

Sertoma Centre, Inc. was featured with Karen Meyer from ABC 7 News in the Disabilities Segment which aired on May 31, 2012

The segment  featured Sertoma’s Seniors who participate in the Bridge Program. Click this link to see the video:

We are extremely proud of our Seniors and Staff who participated in this segment.  We thank everyone who contributed to its success.


From left to right:

People’s Choice Award  - Ken Dompling and Joe Dinova from Blue Island Fire Department - Ken and Joe’s Pulled Pork
Ethnic Category - Dennis (Max) Malloy from Riverdale Fired Department - Jambalya to the Max
Chili Category -  Bob Hopper from Lombard Fire Department  and his Dad,  Bob Hopper Sr.  - Smoke Showin Chili
Poultry Category -  Bob Hopper from Lombard Fire Department -Fireground White Chili
Ribs Category - Steve Zook and Jim Leibach from Niles Fire Department - Tillerboy Ribs


BIG Raffle Winners Could Win a Grand Prize of $10,000


           2012 BIG RAFFLE
$10,000 Bill O’Reilly
$1,000 Phil Salvador
$500 E.J. DalBello
$300 Barbara Vanerio
$200 Lillie Neal
$100 POW-R Sertoma
$100 Georgia Sarlas
$100 Jeff Kowalis
BIG Event Highlights From SouthtownStar Newspaper’s Casey Toner

BIG Event  2012  – Highlights From  SouthtownStar Newspaper’s Casey Toner

Local Celebrity Judges Determine the Fate of Firefighter’s at Cook-off on April 28th

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:    Local Celebrity Judges Determine the Fate of Firefighter’s at Cook-off on April 28th.

Mayor Patrick E. Kitching, of Alsip, and Mayor Robert S. Straz, of Palos Heights, Illinois will participate as judges for the Firehouse Cook-off at Sertoma Centre’s BIG Event. Joining them on the judge’s panel is the award winning columnist, Phil Kadner and reporter Casey Toner, both from SouthtownStar Newspaper.

BIG Event is not just a chili cook-off, the participating firefighters from Chicago and the suburbs present the attendees with a wide variety of tasty dishes to sample. In addition to the great food the event offers:

  • Dave Fleming, magician and juggler
  • Live music by Sound Barrier
  •  Boomer from Windy City Thunderbolts
  • Kids crafts, activities, video gaming and face painting
  •  Raffles and fun for the entire family

BIG Event 2012, is sponsored by SouthtownStar Newspaper, the Aileen S. Andrew Foundation, Chicagoland area Sertoma Clubs and many local businesses. Please join us on Saturday April 28th, from 5 – 9 p.m. at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, IL. Adults are $10 for entry fee donation/food sample tickets, children 12 & under $5, children under 3, free. Proceeds from the event benefit nearly 700 individuals with disabilities served by Sertoma Centre, Inc.

For more information, call 708-730-6206 or go to www.sertomacentre.org.    Sertoma Centre, Inc. is a nationally-accredited, not-for-profit agency that provides services to individuals with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities, and/or mental illness.

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