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[Cozy Grove]Good News Sunday: Elgin man spearheads campaign to plant tree grove in Wing Park

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  This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

  It was a pretty convincing pitch Robert VanderMolen made to the Elgin Parks and Recreation Department.

  ”In five years, people will wonder what is its purpose. In 10 years, people will find it interesting. In 20 years, people will be saying: ‘You have to see this!’”

  VanderMolen was presenting what he called the “Overstory Project,” a circular array of catalpa trees that would eventually grow to form a cozy, secluded space in the center for gatherings like picnics, yoga, meditation or just reading a book.

  ”My idea was to have a living, breathing sculpture in this grove of trees,” he said.

  The city approved the plan May 25 and VanderMolen led a group of volunteers in planting 37 saplings June 12 in a remote area on the west side of Wing Park.

  VanderMolen came up with the idea at the same time he was reading “The Overstory: A Novel,” which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The book is about five trees whose unique life experiences with nine disparate Americans bring them together to address the destruction of forests.

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  ”I saw the catalpas in my neighborhood that were planted as parkway trees 70 years ago and were now giant, gothic, living architecture. I just thought that if there was a grove of them, it could be really special,” VanderMolen said.

  VanderMolen took the idea to several city government departments, and found a taker at parks and rec, where officials gave him “enthusiastic” approval.

  ”It is always nice when a community member has a vision and a desire to bring a project, and the resources, to us,” said Elgin Parks and Recreation Director Maria Cumpata.

  For the full story, click here.

  Zander Shadid, 11, left, and Zoe Shadid, 9, check out one of the classic cars on display at the reopening of the Willow Creek Community Church Care Center in South Barrington, while dad Silas Shadid of Elmhurst watches.

  Zander Shadid, 11, left, and Zoe Shadid, 9, check out one of the classic cars on display at the reopening of the Willow Creek Community Church Care Center in South Barrington, while dad Silas Shadid of Elmhurst watches.

  - Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

  The petting zoo, baseball hitting tee, and classic cars display are standard fare for summer events.

  But on a recent Sunday at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, they also were symbols of a return to full in-person operation for its Care Center ministry.

  The center helps individuals and families in need, with services ranging from food and clothing assistance to help with employment and transportation.

  The Care Center had been open on a limited basis for curbside service. But now in-person services like vision, legal and dental assistance are open once again.

  ”We have been preparing for this grand reopening for the last few months, just watching COVID numbers, watching vaccine numbers, listening to the government authorities,” said Kyle Healy of West Dundee, the Care Center’s pastor and the church’s director of compassion and justice.

  The Care Center’s 1,800 volunteers were eager to get back, he added.

  For the full story, click here.

  Crime Prevention Detective Shawn Gaylor, left, was recognized as Gurnee Police Officer of the Year and Evidence Custodian Dennis Meserve received the Police Civilian of the Year Award Monday at the village hall.

  Crime Prevention Detective Shawn Gaylor, left, was recognized as Gurnee Police Officer of the Year and Evidence Custodian Dennis Meserve received the Police Civilian of the Year Award Monday at the village hall.

  - Courtesy of Gurnee Police Department

  Crime Prevention Detective Shawn Gaylor and Evidence Custodian Dennis Meserve were presented with the Gurnee Police Officer of the Year Award and Police Civilian of the Year Award, respectively, at a ceremony on Monday.

  Both Gaylor, who has been with the department since 2013, and Meserve, who came on in 2019, said they were surprised to hear they’d been selected for recognition.

  ”I was very pleased but, to me, I’m just doing my job,” Meserve said.

  Gaylor and Meserve each were nominated by for the award by a colleague. Nominations were reviewed by a committee of department employees who then recommended Gaylor and Meserve to Chief Brian Smith.

  Smith said Gaylor and Meserve stand out as hard workers dedicated to the department’s mission.

  For the full story, click here.

  On June 10, Dolores Bopp Potterton was named as a Paul Harris Fellow by The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

  This honor is The Rotary’s way of expressing its appreciation for substantial contributions made to its humanitarian and educational programs.

  It is named for founder Paul Harris, a Chicago lawyer who began Rotary International in 1905.

  Many notable figures have been named Paul Harris Fellows, including Mother Teresa, President Jimmy Carter, astronaut James Lovell, United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk.

  A Naperville resident since 1988, Bopp Potterton has spent the bulk of her life actively participating in service projects, missions, and causes.

  She is the founder of U4Uganda, a nonprofit organization established in 2010 to provide children of Alenga, Uganda, with the resources to support meaningful education.

  For the full story, click here.

  ? Good News Sunday will run each weekend. Please visit dailyherald.com/newsletters to sign up for our Good News Sunday newsletter.