The following article ran in the Kane County Chronicle on May 12, 2015. To read article, click here.



BLACKBERRY TOWNSHIP – When Marklund needed 900 envelopes to be hand-addressed for a big fundraiser, Barbara Rhoads volunteered to do it.

When the Marklund volunteer department at the Mill Creek facility needs clerical help logging in all of the volunteers’ hours, Rhoads does that, too. And she also files for the finance department.

“She is my right hand and my left,” said Cathy Nikrandt, Marklund’s volunteer manager at the agency’s Mill Creek location. “What is it like to work with her? Heaven. She helps four to five days a week. She’s very dedicated. I can’t say enough about her.”

Rhoads, of St. Charles, volunteered a total of 584 hours last year at Marklund in Blackberry Township near Geneva, earning her the Marklund 2014 Volunteer of the Year award. Rhoads received the honor at a volunteer recognition event, but she turned it around, thanking Marklund “for giving me a purpose each day.”

“They are doing me a favor by allowing me to volunteer there,” Rhoads said. “They are giving me a purpose [because] retirement does not agree with me. Idle hands, idle minds get into trouble. I have got to be busy. When I found Marklund, it was a blessing in disguise.”

Marklund provides housing and other services to profoundly disabled adults at its Mill Creek facility and infants and children at its Bloomingdale facility. It raises money at a resale shop in Wood Dale.

Rhoads said she became bored after she retired a few years ago. She read about Marklund’s need for volunteers in the Kane County Chronicle and signed up three years ago.

She said she had never worked with profoundly disabled people before, nor heard of Marklund when she started.

“It reached right in and grabbed me,” Rhoads said. “At first, I was nervous and did not know if I was doing it right. They were just smiling, and when I left after my first time, I had the biggest smile on my face. I felt I was doing something worthwhile.”

She worked with students and clients in the classroom and the gym, then began helping out the administrators.

“Marklund keeps me out of trouble,” Rhoads said. “I keep telling them it’s my second home. I so look forward to going over there and being around all the employees. Everybody is so nice. Just seeing the smiles on students’ and clients’ faces makes your day.”

Other volunteers honored at the luncheon included Evan Clark of Geneva with 505 hours in 120 visits at Marklund’s development training program. Christ Community Church in St. Charles Township was recognized as a Group of the Year for 1,058 volunteer hours through its Second Saturday program.

Nikrandt said volunteers are extremely important to the mission of a facility like Marklund. Combined, 3,936 people provided 35,477 volunteer hours of service at Marklund’s three locations.

“Without volunteers, we would not be able to provide full-life experiences for our residents with profound disabilities,” Nikrandt said.