Welcome to “Everyday Heroes,” a Northwest Herald special project celebrating local residents who selflessly donate their time and their talents to help those most in need. There are hundreds – thousands? – of everyday heroes living in our own communities.

They are the volunteers who make our McHenry County communities better places to live simply because they care. They are motivated not by money or success or prestige, but by a love for their fellow human beings and a deep desire to help.

In November, we asked our readers to nominate their unsung heroes – selfless local folks who give back to their communities in a variety of ways. Our readers responded in huge numbers. We received more than 100 nominations. Most of the nominees were worthy of making this project. Read More >>

Introduction video

The definition of a hero differs from person to person. Many people deserving of recognition are too humble to see the difference they make.

Watch the Everyday Heroes introduction video

See images in the project photo gallery

To order DVDs of videos by the Northwest Herald call 815.459.4040

For each Hero, click to play a video, and to read their story.

Six videos will be revealed on Saturday and five more will be revealed each day after, so check back often.

Tom

Erwin

Volunteers his time as a handyman at Turning Point.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2132687897001
/2013/01/08/tom-erwin-helping-handyman/aiz6m4k/
Tom_Erwin.jpg

Irene

Garza

Donated one of her kidneys to a friend.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2129615661001
/2013/02/01/irene-garza-an-act-of-unselfishness/aehyri9/
Irene_Garza.jpg

Bud

Oughton

Has served on the ACTS board of directors for 18 years.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2129661093001
/2013/01/22/bud-oughton-filling-a-niche/am1j9we/
Bud_Oughton.jpg

Laurie

Selpien

Maintains the Algonquin-LITH Food Pantry's gardens.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2129650885001
/2013/02/01/laurie-selpien-planting-seeds-of-charity/ajka1fk/
Laurie_Selpien.jpg

Mike

Splitt

Organized the Crystal Lake Kiwanis Club's first ever Santa Run.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2129650860001
/2013/01/31/mike-splitt-leading-by-example/ag8045t/
Mike_Splitt.jpg

Dave

Van Geest

Volunteers at the Hoffman Estates-based Fellowship Housing.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2129661142001
/2013/01/31/dave-van-geest-community-minded/ay3o2hc/
Dave_VanGheest.jpg

Joe

Alger

Organizes veteran homecomings with the Warriors Watch and has created murals honoring fallen local soldiers.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2181007151001
/2013/01/31/joe-alger-its-in-his-blood/a2a0ade/
Joe_Alger.jpg

Crystal

Gray

A transgender advocate planning a group in the area.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2132950093001
/2013/02/05/crystal-gray-i-am-proud-of-who-i-am/awwsqxl/
Crystal_Gray.jpg

Bradley

Jones

Did a random act of kindness each day in December.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2149535790001
/2013/01/28/bradley-jones-kindess-to-strangers/avh5kci/
Bradley_Jones.jpg

Sakina

Kapadia

Therapist who helps children with disabilities.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2176605112001
/2013/02/01/sakina-kapadia-a-milestone-in-a-childs-life/ajcukjo/
Sakina_Kapadia.jpg

Jonnie

Vickery

Runs the bereavement ministry for St. John the Baptist Church.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2176624204001
/2013/02/04/jonnie-vickery-mission-of-ministry/abndqjd/
Jonnie_Vickery.jpg

Robert

Brown

Volunteers as a carpenter with Faith in Action.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2149480362001
/2013/01/28/robert-brown-influenced-by-the-past/a463f20/
Bob_Brown.jpg

Joe & Rose

Lewis

Bring food and Christmas gifts to families in need throughout the county.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2183391819001
/2013/01/25/joe-and-rose-lewis-giving-from-the-heart/alohcl6/
Joe_Rose_Lewis.jpg

Terrie

Mayer

Styles hair for some clients for next to nothing out of the goodness of her heart.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178660690001
/2013/01/31/terrie-mayer-her-own-style-of-giving/aad7grb/
Terrie_Mayer.jpg

Jim

Miller

Volunteers for the Harvard High School music department.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2167785653001
/2013/01/21/jim-miller-a-hobby-of-helping-out/afi8boo/
Jim_Miller.jpg

Dr. James

Mowery

Volunteers his time away to provide free care to the county's most vulnerable residents.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2176562124001
/2013/01/18/dr-james-mowery-it-has-become-a-passion/a2m92t0/
James_Mowery.jpg

John

Diedrich

Donates flowers to a nursing home.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2167794439001
/2013/01/08/john-diedrich-flowering-philanthropy/aoq90lt/
John_Diedrich.jpg

Jerry

Eiserman

Works with Mission Possible to aid people in need.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2167766690001
/2013/01/21/jerry-eiserman-still-inspiring-youth/acdb5ai/
Jerry_Eiserman.jpg

Jane

Hagenow

Plays the piano for residents at Hearthstone Manor while they enjoy lunch.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2189136210001
/2013/01/08/jane-hagenow-with-a-song-in-her-heart/avyau0r/
Jane_Hagenow.jpg

Zach

Seiler

Works part time as a physical therapy technician and volunteers countless hours at PADS.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178737310001
/2013/01/31/zack-seiler-im-just-a-person-to-talk-to/abbcvmq/
Zack_Seiler.jpg

Justin

Smith

Continues to visit Haiti to deliver food and assist those in need.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2188836533001
/2013/01/29/justin-smith-its-a-great-mission/atmt4zm/
Justin_Smith.jpg

Carol

Lee

Works at Senior Services Associates Inc. in Johnsburg.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2183215564001
/2013/01/29/carol-lee-its-nice-to-know-you-helped/a2vkbkx/
Carol_Lee.jpg

Sue

Manderscheid

Has volunteered more than 4,000 hours at the Centegra Hospital cafeteria.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178737353001
/2013/01/30/sue-manderscheid-the-candy-lady-can/a6dn4vl/
Sue_Manderscheid.jpg

Elizabeth

Phelps

Volunteers at the Family Health Partnership Clinic contacting patients.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2167766661001
/2013/01/31/elizabeth-phelps-proud-to-be-part-of-a-team/ai5bguy/
Elizabeth_Phelps.jpg

Edward

Piesens

Volunteers his time as a scout master.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178596588001
/2013/02/01/edward-piesens-hes-a-real-troop-er/apoif2z/
Edward_Piesens.jpg

Sue

Schuerr

Works with wounded soliders, or those with other physical impairment, and teaches them how to ski.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2191396881001
/2013/02/06/sue-schuerr-serving-beyond-self/a6xoktu/
Sue_Schuerr.jpg

Sue

Cisko

Has supported her neighbor and her husband during his cancer treatments.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178529614001
/2013/01/28/sue-cisko-supportive-steps/ahgzefs/
Sue_Cisko.jpg

Jim

Lalor

Volunteers every Friday for Meals on Wheels.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178720607001
/2013/01/25/jim-lalor-its-kind-of-like-a-family/afb86zc/
Jim_Lalor.jpg

Judy

Pelinski

Named an ambassador for the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2180765448001
/2013/01/30/judy-pelinski-opportunity-to-give-back/adaa6pi/
Judy_Pelinski.jpg

Ron

Reber

Organizes many events honoring veterans.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2167794455001
/2013/02/01/ron-reber-these-guys-mean-so-much-to-me/a2oyiwk/
Ron_Reber.jpg

Jeff

Schumacher

Clears and burns debris and invasive plants while volunteering at the McHenry County Conservation District.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178519775001
/2013/01/28/jeff-schumacher-changing-the-landscape/a8hdomg/
Jeff_Schumacher.jpg

Jayne

Anderson

Organizes events and activities for local seniors as the director of the Kraus Senior Center.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2195911954001
/2013/02/02/jayne-anderson-something-more-to-me/a5u0fsn/
Jayne_Anderson.jpg

Peggy

Grasley

Volunteers at Family Health Partnership Clinic, organizing the Care4 Breast Cancer Race.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178817960001
/2013/01/08/peggy-grasley-i-just-think-that-you-pass-it-on/afto2kn/
Peggy_Grasley.jpg

Jim

Kreher

Has volunteered with the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance for 35 years.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2178596616001
/2013/01/08/jim-kreher-always-at-the-ready/a6g5jy2/
Jim_Kreher.jpg

Chris

Newlon

Newlon volunteers at GiGi's Playhouse, raising awareness about Down syndrome.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2195889756001
/2013/02/04/chris-newlon-a-playhouse-to-call-home/akylx21/
Chris_Newlon.jpg

Kristen

Semrich

Volunteers her time for charity work events, such as Feed My Starving Children.

http://www.nwherald.com/video/index.xml?vidid=2180779194001
/2013/01/30/kristen-semrich-passion-for-the-positive/avd6hay/
Kristen_Semrich.jpg

CREDITS

Web project by
Erick Ward

Videos by
Morgan Ellingston, Dan Mott, Christine Nikolich and Jason Pfrommer

Photos by
H. Rick Bamman, Monica Maschak, Josh Peckler and Sarah Nader