Henek brings commitment, skill to local fundraising
Patty Henek shows off the mass collection of Holiday Gift Baskets on Dec. 6 at the Lutheran United Church. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 6:07AM
OAK PARK — Patty Henek is well-known — and appreciated — by social service organizations around Oak Park and River Forest.
For 10 years now, she’s been the mother hen overseeing a succession of kids running the Bonnie Brae LemonAid Stand.
That effort grew from a modest $400 raised in 2002 for Hepzibah Home to more than $22,000 this year, benefitting Sarah’s Inn. In all, the stand has raised about $74,000 for local social service agencies, including Thrive, Opportunity Knocks and the Oak Park and River Forest Children’s Clinic.
The $5,500 Henek and her young colleagues raised in 2008 benefitted the Holiday Food and Gift Basket program. Now, the former public relations professional finds herself the part-time paid coordinator of that effort.
Oak Leaves caught up with Henek earlier this month at the United Lutheran Church in north Oak Park, where she was busy overseeing the processing and delivery of several thousand holiday gifts and food gift cards for 912 area families.
Q: What brought you into the Holiday Gift Basket?A:
It kind of falls in line with what I like to do. I like working with people, I like organizing things. I have some skills in that, so I figured, I’ve got the time, why not? ... When I first read all the things that would be involved with the job, it seemed a little overwhelming. Then as I (thought about it) I thought, there’s really no good reason I can’t do it.
Q: So this sort of thing is close to your heart?A:
Yeah. I guess when I hear there’s a need or some kind of cause, that needs leadership, I feel, like, why not me? The need is there. I find there’s a lot of people who want to help. They just don’t necessarily lead what needs to be done. I don’t mind taking that lead role. I can use my skills and recruit other people to help me get things done, then good.
Q: What other charities do you help?A:
Besides the LemonAid stand, I also do fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis. That runs in my family, unfortunately. We just did a big fundraiser in May at the Whirly Ball (in Melrose Park). Raised over $12,000.
Q: How long have you lived in River Forest?A:
We’ve been there 12 years. In and out, actually. In Oak Park for six years. I’ve actually been in the Oak Park area my whole life. I grew up in the Austin neighborhood. Just east of Austin Boulevard, between North Avenue and Division Street.
Q: Where did you go to school?A:
St. Angela for grade school (in Austin) and Trinity for high school (River Forest).
Q: Could you tell us about your family?A:
I have two boys. Matthew, my oldest, co-chaired the LemonAid stand this year. He’s a junior at Oak Park River Forest High School. My son Nick is an eighth-grader at Roosevelt Middle School.
Q: So the future leadership of the LemonAid stand is secure?A:
Well, yeah, actually the kids are at the point where they’re asking to do it, so we have to have a plan for the next few years. (Laughing) It’s mapped out.