What are you doing for others?

Fox Valley United Way’s Annual Recognition Breakfast

Several awards were given out during the Fox Valley United Way’s Annual Recognition Breakfast May 19. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

AURORA — For his years of support of Fox Valley United Way (FVUW) and the social service agencies it funds, and for demonstrating the spirit of caring, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner was the first recipient of the Thomas J. Weisner Humanitarian Award given by the FVUW.

Weisner accepted the award during the FVUW’s Annual Recognition Breakfast where it celebrated a community that cares May 19.

Fox Valley United Way Executive Director Mike Meyer said Wisner’s tenure as mayor of Aurora has exemplified how the hearts of a humanitarian can change an entire community.

“His dedication to economic revitalization, sustainable development, and safer and stronger neighborhoods has raised Aurora to a new level of exceptionalism that benefits all of us. Yet it is his consistent and engage support of Fox Valley United Way that proves that he truly live united,” Meyer said.

Fox Valley United Way’s Annual Recognition Breakfast

The Fox Valley Building and Construction Trades Council’s award for its monetary, gift card donations for Holiday Assistance Program. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

2016 Fox Valley United Way Annual Breakfast.

Several individuals, as well as organizations, were acknowledged for their work during the Fox Valley United Way Annual Breakfast award winners during the 2016 event. Respective winning categories are also shown.

Weisner chose not to speak to the more than 400 attendants at the breakfast, instead, humbly said, “thank you.”

This was the debut of the award. Meyer said future recipients will show the same caring spirit as Weisner.

Other organizations and individuals honored, included the Gustafson Family Foundation with the LIVE UNITED award and Maria Deleon-Mazo as the Outstanding Community Volunteer Award.

Though it had been previously announced, FVUW’s Board of Directors Chair Julie Proscia reminded guests the United Way of Central Kane County is merging with the FVUW, effective Aug. 1.

“I cannot tell you how honored we were they trusted us to be able to service their area, and their agencies,” Proscia explained. “They felt, and we believe, that we’re a partner that can do so because we have an organizational capacity, and the leadership to both manage the fundraising, innovative programs and volunteer recruitment in their areas.”



As it does every year, the FVUW gave awards of appreciation to organizations that helped make its annual events a success, like its Campaign Kick-Off with its cardboard boat race; Holiday Assistance Program and Souper Bowl of Caring.

The Fox Valley Building and Construction Trades Council was honored for its monetary and gift card donations for the Holiday Assistance Program.

“Every family that we help gets a gift card so they can buy groceries. Most families we help are on food assistance, and this gives them the opportunity to actually go out and purchase groceries at the store for a holiday meal,” Meyer explained.

There were 81 businesses, organizations, individuals and families who helped sponsor 127 families in need, and helped 316 children have a wonderful holiday.

Aurora mayor recommends Cmd. Kristen Ziman as next police chief

Aurora Police Department Cmd. Kristen Ziman

Aurora Police Department Cmd. Kristen Ziman

Fox Valley Labor News staff reports
Friday, Jan. 8

AURORA – After an extensive process that included surveys, presentations and multiple interviews, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner made his recommendation from among four internal candidates.

“I’m very pleased to recommend Kristen as our next chief,” Weisner said during a press conference Thursday, Jan. 7. “Becoming Aurora’s first female police chief is not the only way she has been a trailblazer and I’m confident that her considerable talent will lead the department to new heights.”

Born and raised in Aurora, Commander Ziman has worked her way through the ranks during her nearly 25 year career with the Aurora Police Department, beginning as a police cadet in 1991.

“I am both excited and grateful beyond belief to serve the men and women of the Aurora Police Department and the citizens of this community” she said. “I do not take this responsibility lightly and will work tirelessly and energetically to build upon the legacy of this professional organization.”

A graduate of West Aurora High School, Ziman served three years as an Aurora Police cadet before becoming a sworn officer in 1994. She worked in patrol, field training, community policing and investigations as a domestic violence detective before being promoted to sergeant in 2003. She was promoted to lieutenant in 2008 and to commander in 2010.

Commander Ziman earned her Associate’s Degree from Waubonsee Community College, Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Aurora University and Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Management from Boston University. In addition, she is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and completed the Kellogg Women’s Senior Leadership Program at Northwestern University, Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the Senior Management Institute for Police.

Commander Ziman lives in Aurora with her spouse, Chris, and their children Megan, Jimmy, Bailey and Jacob.

Mayor Weisner’s recommendation will be considered by the City Council Tuesday, Jan. 12. If approved, she will begin as the new Aurora Police Chief immediately, making her the first female chief in the department’s history and the 28th chief in the history of the department.

Ziman has been “the first” in a number of positions throughout her career and has worked diligently to mentor other women in law enforcement locally and nationally. She is the Past President of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE).

“The short term goal is to build a Command Staff of individuals who will bring talent, expertise, and diversity of thought to the position. Once we have the decision-makers in place, we are going move immediately to action by identifying systems and processes that need to be created or improved upon”, Ziman said. “The long term goals are to be even more engaged with the citizens we serve and to continue to work tirelessly to make this community a safe place to live, work and play. In doing so, we will continue our efforts to reduce crime while protecting with vigilance and serving with compassion.”

The recommendation for Chief will be considered by the City Council Tuesday, Jan. 12 at a Special Committee of the Whole Meeting at 5 p.m., followed immediately by a meet and greet for the public on the fifth floor of City Hall, 44 E. Downer Place. At 6 p.m,. the City Council will convene for their regularly scheduled meeting, where they will vote on the Mayor’s recommendation for Chief of Police.
-City of Aurora/Aurora Police Department

Herschel Luckinbill honored for his dedicated work

Herschel Luckinbill
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Montgomery resident Herschel Luckinbill accepted the Illinois Veteran of the Month award, which was presented by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, for his dedication, support and love of all veterans.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at pat@foxvalleylabornews.com

AURORA — Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner said it all June 23 when talking about Herschel Luckinbill: “A veteran could have no greater friend than you.” One could almost feel the breeze of all the heads in the crowd nodding in agreement, as Luckinbill emotionally accepted the Illinois Veteran of the Month award, an accolade earned through years of hard work helping veterans in any way, shape or form he could.

“We brought the Vietnam Wall to Aurora to honor my shipmates, and it was like me getting to spend five days with those two gentlemen who lost their lives that day,” said Luckinbill on stage at the Prisco Center in Aurora.

Herschel Luckinbill
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Veterans take time to view various albums of newspaper clippings and photographs, as well as awards, from Montgomery resident Herschel Luckinbill.

Luckinbill served aboard the USS O’Brien as a Machinist Mate, surviving a near miss in 1966 as the ship was shelled by hostile North Vietnamese shore batteries. Two of his fellow sailors were killed in the attack, while Luckinbill survived a near miss.

He completed his enlistment, having earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

After leaving the Navy, Luckinbill became a union sprinkler fitter in the Chicago-area Fire Protection industry for 41 years, retiring in 2005. He keeps in constant motion serving veterans, such as the effort to bring the Vietnam Moving Wall exhibit to Aurora, and as a major fundraiser and escort for Honor Flight, escorting elderly veterans on 25 trips to Washington D.C., and serving as President of the Fox Valley Veterans Breakfast Club.

“This crowd says volumes of the community respect for Herschel,” said Erica Borggren, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, who presented him with the honor.”

Herschel Luckinbill
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
A packed house at Aurora’s Prisco Center congratulated Luckinbill on his Illinois Veteran of the Month award.

“The narrative of veterans in the media is incomplete. You hear of the struggling veteran, which is certainly true, but there are so many other veterans. Ones like Herschel didn’t leave their ethic of service when they took the uniform off,” Borggren explained.

Luckinbill joked that he wasn’t quite sure he was receiving the award, and had to piece it together when he got the phone call.

“They said, ‘Didn’t you sign the piece of paper?’ I wasn’t sure.”

Luckinbill said his wife of 47 years, Eva, had asked him to sign a paper, but couldn’t tell him what it was for. He put his trust in his wife.

“She said, ‘You have to sign this but you can’t ask me any questions.’ And I said, yes, I think I did sign it, but I didn’t know what I was signing,” he said.

The move paid off, and Luckinbill got a great surprise when he got the phone call from the IDVA.
Mayor Weisner said Luckinbill is a treasure to the community.

“I’ve watched Herschel in action for the last decade, and he’s simply amazing,” said Weisner. “In the last year, he brought us the Healing Field and the Moving Wall, and it’s really a piece of history for Aurora and the city’s veterans.”