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Lisle honors Pillars of the community with awards for their good deeds
By Joan Broz | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 5/17/2010 12:17 AM

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Good deeds are contagious.

Sure the people involved benefit, but then the message radiates out to encourage others to do good deeds, too.

The Lisle Community Character Alliance will honor nine individuals who have some inspiring good deeds to their credit. Each will receive a Pillar Award at the Lisle village board meeting at 7 p.m. today.

Sabrina Lichon

Benet Academy sophomore Sabrina Lichon, 16, started Pennies for Plumbing to help St. Ann Catholic School in Chicago.

"St. Ann's is a wonderful school with a student body that is excited to learn," Sabrina said. "The staff and teachers are energetic and love what they are doing."

The problem is that the four-story school building that was built in the early 1900s has no running water above the lowest level. Bathrooms are only in the basement.

Sabrina found out about this dilemma when helping a friend set up her classroom. She also learned that 95 percent of the 237 students in pre-K to eighth grade live in families that are below the poverty level.

Sabrina talked to her teachers at Benet Academy in Lisle and received a donation from the school's Christmas drive. A friend had a raffle at Naperville North High School that brought in more money. Sabrina then talked to radio stations and was on television. Slowly the money began to add up. To date, she has raised $16,000. She needs $17,000 to install sinks and water fountains on all floors and replace the antiquated piping. Sadly, the floor plan does not allow for additional bathrooms upstairs.

To make a donation to Pennies for Plumbing, call St. Ann's Assistant Principal Frankie Beecroft at (312) 829-4153 or use PayPal at

"I have been overwhelmed by how generous people have been," Sabrina said. "It's awesome."

For her continuing efforts, Sabrina will receive the Lisle Community Character Alliance Pillar Award of caring in the student category.

Thomas Mandel

Lisle High School freshman Thomas Mandel, 15, knows a thing or two about raising money. As a teen leader with the Lisle Teens With Character, he participated in Sleep Out Saturday and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, for which in 2009 he was the top fundraiser for his age group in the country.

"I do the fundraising because I know there are others who really need the help," Thomas said.

Between the two events over the past three years, Thomas estimates he brought in $5,000 for the cancer society and $1,500 for the homeless who benefit from the sleepover. He raises the money going to his neighbors.

"Going door to door is not easy, but most of the people are very nice," Thomas said. "I would tell others to never give up because there are people who really need your help."

Thomas believes part of his success comes from making sure each donor receives a thank-you note with their receipt. The character alliance wishes to thank Thomas with the Pillar Award for responsibility in the student category.

Joe Collins and Matt Bloodgood

Hockey players Joe Collins, 15, and Matt Bloodgood, 15, attend Naperville North High School. The two young men took it upon themselves this winter to keep the ice rink in the Lisle downtown area ready for use.

"We maintained the rink making sure the sidewalks, benches and ice were cleared of snow so people could use them," said Collins, a Lisle resident. "When we saw people using it, we knew that we did a good thing."

Matt, a Woodridge resident, used some of his hours of service to fill a requirement at his church for Confirmation. But he also learned that a few people were surprised that someone in high school would take on the responsibility to clear the rink.

The real surprise is that they did the work even though no hockey was allowed on the rink. The two like skating so much, they wanted others to enjoy skating, too. Joe and Matt thought the rink was a good idea and look forward to clearing it next winter.

The character alliance believes giving the Pillar Award for citizenship to Joe and Matt in the student category is a very good idea, too.

Ed Sloan

Seeing a need and doing something about it is why Ed Sloan developed a habit of taking along a trash bag when he and his Norwegian elkhound, Ashburn, take a walk.

The longtime Lisle resident always picks up after his dog, but then goes above and beyond by picking up other trash.

"You know sometimes things get blown out of recycling bins," Sloan said. "Picking up the trash takes just a little extra time, is not that big a deal and it makes the neighborhood look nice."

Sloan was surprised that his neighbors nominated him. He will receive the Pillar Award of caring in the adult category.

"It is nice that neighbors appreciate what I do," Sloan said. "I have people say 'thank you,' but I really do it because it makes me feel good. It would be nice if others in their neighborhoods do the same from hearing this story."

Blake Billings, Alison Blunk, Stacy Spangler and Kelsey Swindle

Busy with a production of "Music Man," four Lisle High School teens were quite surprised to find a large amount of cash.

"It was really crazy backstage and as we stooped down to tidy up the place we saw this money," said Stacy Spangler, 17, a junior. "It was scattered all over in the same area."

"When we picked it up, we began to think, 'this feels like real money,'" said Alison Blunk, 17. "But the area was dark."

Senior Kelsey Swindle, 18, was directing backstage when the others showed her what they found.

"At first, we thought it was fake money because we have some as a prop in the musical," Swindle said. "I asked parents that were helping out if anyone lost some money. Then I gave it to our school director."

The night of the performance, the drama group was doing a special production for senior citizens. It was the first time the costumes were in use and the cash was later found to have come from one of the pockets.

"We did not find the owner for two weeks," said Blake, 16. "The experience taught me that you need to continue to do the thing you know is right. When you do something good, it will help someone out sooner or later."

Each of the teens expressed their surprise to be honored with the Pillar Award for trustworthiness. The alliance is proud to make something good happen for four trustworthy teens.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. E-mail her at

The Pillar Awards

Pillar Awards provide the Lisle community the opportunity to acknowledge the positive contributions individuals, groups, businesses and organizations of good character give to Lisle.

To be eligible, individuals or groups must have done or continue to do an act that reflects one of the six pillars of good character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. The awards were designed to recognize that good character comes in a wide variety of forms and, at its best, enriches the community. The only restriction is that the person nominated must live, work, volunteer or attend school in Lisle.

Awards are given at a village board meeting and broadcast on cable Channel 10.

The Lisle Community Character Alliance accepts nominations for Pillar Awards all year. Twice a year the committee meets, following the Oct. 5 and April 5 deadlines, to select honorees.

Nomination forms are available at Lisle Village Hall, 935 Burlington Ave.; at the Lisle Library, 777 Front St.; and at

The alliance promotes positive character in Lisle businesses, organizations, schools and community. It is based on the national Character Counts program. Interested volunteers are welcome to be part of the alliance. Check the village website for meeting times and dates.