By Jack Ryan, executive in-depth editor
A smile from ear to ear said it all. With decorations hung, music playing, friends and family crowding in, and the aroma of catered food filling the conference room, a dream came true for Oak Park resident Delores Palmore.
This smile was created from the work of the Sophomore Class Board, which is sponsored by social science teacher Michelle Fonsino. Sophomore Class Board partnered with One Dream, a non-profit organization started by Fonsino’s cousin Melissa Cosentino. The organization helps make wishes come true for low-income seniors in the Chicagoland area.
On Sunday, Jan. 31, the Sophomore Class Board traveled to Oak Brook to help Palmore celebrate the help she received from her friends and family during her 11-year battle with cancer.
It was Fonsino who originally introduced the Student Class Board to One Dream. According to Fonsino, students fell in love with the idea of the organization and took on the task right away.
Now that the event is over, Fonsino and sophomore Emily Lasky could not have asked for a better experience.
“It was my first time doing anything related to One Dream, and it was an experience I definitely will never forget,” Lasky said. “Seeing Delores … and all of her granddaughters enjoying themselves and having so much fun — I think that that was really special … and I will always carry that image with me.”
During the event, Palmore gave a speech to thank her friends and family, and according to Fonsino, “there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.” At that moment, Fonsino and Lasky knew they were truly making a difference to Palmore and her friends and family.
“Saying thank you to someone after they do something nice for you is one thing, but to get all of these people together in one space and for [Palmore] to truly express how much they’ve changed her life and how she will never be able to repay them is really special,” Lasky said.
During and after the event, Fonsino wanted her students to understand the true value of family and friends, and she believes her students achieved that.
“[Palmore’s speech] brought home the point to these kids that we should slow down and look around you, and that the people around you are so important and such a powerful network of people, and that … doing something for somebody can make you feel so much better than getting an A on a test,” Fonsino said.
According to Fonsino, this is “the beginning of a beautiful friendship” with One Dream. She hopes that everyone and anyone will help out with an event or donate money. Lasky, like Fonsino, believes that other clubs and organizations should help out with One Dream and other community organizations.
“If you can get a big group of people that work well together all in one space, why not put it to some use beyond ourselves,” Lasky said. “I believe that this [event] was so beyond ourselves. To be able to reach out to a member of the community who is struggling and do something that matters that she will never forget and her friends and family will never forget — I feel like any opportunity you can have to do that you should take advantage of.”
Fonsino and her students were happy to make a wish come true and help change someone’s life for the better.
“[Palmore’s wish] was really humbling,” Fonsino said. “I think for me, I was most happy to see my students happy and for them to feel a sense of reward or accomplishment.”