Prospect senior Mary Kate Dempsey recognized for service

By Andrew Revord
Associate Editor-in-Chief
Just like a lucky Prospect student occasionally and unexpectedly receives two bags of Fritos from the vending machines for the price of one, senior Mary Kate Dempsey had not expected to earn the Mount Prospect Rising Star Award for the community service she had done to earn her Girl Scout Gold award.
Her friend, Hersey junior Nora Gawlik, had also worked on Dempsey’s project and received the award with her.
Dempsey got a phone call in early December informing her family she had won the rising star award.
“I was like what?  We won?  And what’s this award?” Dempsey said.
The Rising Star award recognizes young people in the Mt. Prospect community who have done “above and beyond service for no other reason than helping others,” according to Dempsey.
The recognition ceremony took place on Feb. 4, and a number of village officials attended, including mayor Irvana Wilks.
Dempsey’s path to earning the award began last May, when she began a service project to plant a 600 square ft. vegetable garden in the River Trails park district in order to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, with the help of Dempsey’s parents and Gawlik.
The project was far from simple, though.  Dempsey faced numerous difficulties while planting the garden, including weeding to prepare the space for the garden, having to spend hours in the hot sun for months during the entire summer until October and constantly watering the plants.
Dempsey also had to contend with the local animals, who appreciated her service, but not for the reasons she wanted.  The animals were constantly running through the garden area, eating the plants there.
Still, Dempsey was able to grow 650 pounds of peppers, squash, tomatoes and other vegetables to donate to the CEDA food pantry in Mt. Prospect—far more than the amount she had expected to grow.
Dempsey was satisfied with the work she accomplished and didn’t regret the hours she spent during summer break planting the garden.
“It was probably one of the best summers I’ve ever had,” she said.
Dempsey said the Rising Star award “definitely gives some recognition” to
people who do exceptional community service.
In reality, Dempsey and Gawlik had already unknowingly been noticed by
citizens in the community.  Not long after the Daily Herald ran a story on their project, Dempsey and
Gawlik were anonymously nominated by a Mt. Prospect citizen for the Rising
Star award.
At the award ceremony, a woman who Dempsey had never met before approached her, telling her that her daughter was also in Girl Scouts and that Dempsey was an “inspiration” to her daughter and to the community.