Shining Stars of Mount Prospect

Pictured: John Brennan receving his award for rising star
Pictured: John Brennan receving his award for rising star
By Maggie Devereux
If you knew a couple that over their lifetime had taken in over 100 foster children, how would you honor them for their loving efforts? What about a mail carrier that took the time to notice a house he was delivering letters to was on fire, then to save the life of an elderly woman inside?
Those people weren’t celebrities, which means that they shouldn’t have to be celebrities to get recognized for their service to the community.  Those people were just a few of the dozens that have won a Mount Prospect Shining Star Award since the first in 1994.
The Mount Prospect Shining Star Award began after the 75th anniversary of Mount Prospect  when a celebration was held in honor of the town. The celebration was such a success that the next year they had another celebration, this time with the goal of honoring the people that make the community so great in mind.

“The Shining Star Awards seek people who have considerably stepped outside of their own responsibility for their family, job, or the community,” said Tom Zander, chairman of the award committee.

This year’ s awards, set to take place on Feb. 6, will occur during the annual Celestial Celebration. The Celestial Celebration is an annual Mount Prospect event that celebrates the town, as well as the people that inhabit it.
It is a chance for members of the community to be honored for all that they do out of the goodness of their hearts. Anyone is encouraged to nominate a special person they know each year so that the committee can recognize those that make a difference.
This year, there were a total of 147 nominations throughout 13 categories that included Champion for Youth Award, Open Arms Award, and Rising Star Award. The Open Arms Award is for those who open their hearts to people less fortunate, needy, or lonely.
The Rising Star Award recognizes a high school or junior high student who goes beyond what is expected of them by setting good examples and demonstrates leadership. The secret panel of judges made up entirely of townspeople will then evaluate the nominees and select a winner for each category.
Previous award winners include many Prospect affiliated such as the Prospect Safety dog program, PHS graduate Jaclyn Gartz who won the Rising Star Award  , and district 57 music   teacher and choir teacher Carolyn Story.
2009 “The World is a Better Place”  award winner John Brennan was never looking for recognition for his efforts against racism and injustice. He created awareness programs and volunteered out of the goodness of his heart. Yet, when he received the call last year saying he had been nominated , he was appreciative. When he won,  it was bittersweet.
“I often feel that when you honor one person there are 10 other people that equally deserve it, ” Brennan said.
Which is part of why the awards are the best way to acknowledge those that deserve acknowledgement. Just a nomination can really make the day of someone who helps others out of their own  kindness.
“It brings people to the forefront that might otherwise be in the background, ” said Zander.

Even those not nominated can be brought to the forefront just by attending the awards. Last year, Brennan invited a whole table of people he respected for their contributions to the community. That included a man who went to jail protesting for peace, a women that opened a shelter for those suffering  , a man who has made several trips to Nicaragua bringing medicine, his daughter and her boyfriend who opened a charter school, and his wife Charman, a teacher and just caring person. In his acceptance speech he acknowledged those that were with him.

“I think the best thing was that I invited a table of who I think are extraordinary people,” Brennan said. “I had my own table of Shining stars.”
2010 Mount Prospect Shining Star Award Winners ( supplied by the Mount Prospect Community’s special events page)
  • Best Business Partner Award – Tom Nelson & Roberta Hamann, Byte Me Computers
  • Champion for Youth Award – Jim Miller, Mount Prospect Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Educator / Investigator
  • Youth Service Award – Brian Krause, Youth Coach
  • Good, Better, Best Neighbor Award – Brian Kiel, Neighbor Extraordinaire
  • Home Town Award – Laura Haas, Halo Hair & Nail Studio
  • Rising Star Award – Martin Diaz, Hersey High School Senior
  • There Ought to be More People Like This Award – William & Dolores Shillington, Givers all the way
  • The World is a Better Place Award –Parenti & Raffaelli, Ltd., Architectural Woodwork & Custom Cabinetry