Marklund welcomes music

Elburn volunteer encourages all to play, sing for residents
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Marklund residents are treated to musical entertainment two to four times a month, but volunteer Michael Kilberry has made it his mission to bring even more music to the facility.

Kilberry, of Elburn, helps out every Monday evening at one of Marklund’s six residences for people with severe disabilities, whom he calls “friends and angels.”

Kilberry said some residents can only see and hear, and rely on those senses for pleasure.

“That is why live music is so important for them,” Kilberry said. “It feeds the soul.”

Many local organizations, such as the Elburn Girl Scouts, go to Marklund to sing in the complex’s activity room for residents there, particularly during the holidays. Now that the season is almost over, Kilberry wants the public to know that anyone who sings or plays music, no matter what level of talent, are welcome throughout the year.

“We won’t turn anyone away,” Kilberry said.

Volunteer coordinator Cathy Nikrandt said Marklund supports the idea of adding to the musical entertainment the facility already has, and said that anyone interested, from a solo act to a group of performers, should arrange a time with her so that activities do not overlap.

Kilberry envisions people presenting music as they stroll from building to building, or provide live music during residents’ dinner hour.

“It would be uplifting and relaxing for them before they go to bed,” Kilberry said.

Nikrandt said music also could be presented in the classrooms for a few minutes during the day in Marklund’s main building when residents are there.

Nearly all of those served are confined to wheelchairs and have severe cognitive deficits. Most also have complex medical problems that require 24-hour skilled nursing care.

Kilberry decided one day last summer to stop in at Marklund on Wyatt Road, which he always drove past on his way to work.

“He just showed up and said, ‘How can I get involved?’” Nikrandt said.

Now, during his weekly visits at Marklund, Kilberry provides “hands on hands” assistance for residents, guiding them in such activities as opening Christmas presents.

Kilberry hopes that as more people go to Marklund to present music, more people will get to know the residents and be inspired, as he was, to volunteer in other ways.

Those interested in providing music for Marklund residents may call Nikrandt, at (630) 593-5468 or e-mail her at cnikrandt@marklund.org.

Photos: Elburn Girl Scouts and family members recently sang Christmas carols for Marklund residents. Courtesy Photo

Crafty leftovers

Margaret Ritchie works with Kevin (9), Elin (3) and Jason (6) Zheng of Elburn at the Town and Country Public Library’s end-of-the-year ‘Clean out the closet’ craft event—where the library brings out all the leftover arts and crafts materials from the year. Photo by Ben Draper

Pet stores now required to disclose animal health history

SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is reminding the public about a new law effective Jan. 1, 2011, designed to protect consumers by requiring pet stores, animal shelters and animal controls to disclose certain information before they sell or adopt out cats and dogs.

“Consumers have a right to know where an animal was bred or whether it has chronic medical problems before they buy it,” Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said. “This new law strengthens the state’s Animal Welfare Act and makes sure consumers receive the information they need to make an informed purchase decision.”

Governor Pat Quinn signed House Bill 5772 (Public Act 96-1470) into law last August. It requires pet stores, animal shelters and animal controls to disclose the following information on or near an animal’s cage:

• Retail price, including additional charges
• Breed, age, date of birth, sex and color of the dog or cat
• Details of vaccinations and health history
• Name, address and identification number of the breeder
• Details of any inoculation or medical treatment received while at the facility

Consumers also must receive a copy of the information at the time of purchase. The law recognizes animal shelters and animal controls, which often care for strays, may not possess an animal’s complete medical history and allows them to estimate some information.

Currently, pet stores are required to disclose this information if it is requested by the consumer, but it is unclear when the information must be disclosed. Thus, some pet stores do not share it until after the sale is final.

Financial aid demystified

by Morgan Buerke
Krier Reporter

KANELAND—Senior Beth Smith has spent many tedious hours filling out scholarship applications.

“I’m applying for all of the financial aid and scholarships I can. I’m trying to get as much as possible,” Smith said.

It’s a smart move, the experts say, because college costs have skyrocketed in the past few years, and with it, so have student debts.

Among 2008 college graduates, 67 percent of students graduating from four-year colleges and universities had student debt, a U.S. Department of Education study found—and on average, those graduating seniors owed $23,200, an increase of 24 percent since 2004. For those who attended private four-year universities, the average debt was even higher: $27,650.

This problem has been receiving growing attention as debt loads increase and recent graduates struggle in a poor economy. Often, they have to wait a year before finding a job, while struggling to repay the loans, or they begin graduate school immediately in order to defer them.

And yet despite this, many students still aren’t applying for financial aid and scholarships. It’s a stupid mistake, counselor Andrew Franklin said.

“Applying for financial aid will help you stop throwing your money out the window,” Franklin said. “Realistically, not applying is foolish.”

While financial aid may not seem that important, counselor Maria Mecic, who’s in charge of helping students get scholarships, strongly advises students to apply.

“I’m applying for scholarships and filling out the FAFSA form. I need the grants and scholarships, especially because I have other siblings in college,” Smith said. “I participate in extra-curriculars, do community service and work (to improve my chances).”

Mecic said students should check the Student Services website and the board outside Student Services to find scholarships they’re eligible for.

“Most scholarships students will send off on their own,” Mecic said. “But local scholarships, which are only for Kaneland students, need to be turned in directly to Student Services.”

According to Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest financial aid organization, there are four types of financial aid: scholarships, grants, earned money and borrowed money. Scholarships can be given for a variety of reasons, including excellent grades, financial need, community involvement, parents’ employment, sports and memberships in organizations. Grants, which are need-based aid distributed by the federal government, the state and colleges, are similar in that they do not need to be repaid.

Earned money is just that: earned. Students awarded this participate in a work-study program and are guaranteed a job on-campus—an important benefit because jobs in college towns can often be difficult to find.

The last and least desirable type of financial aid is borrowed money. These are loans that have to be repaid and usually collect interest. Among the better loan options are those offered by the federal government, such as the Perkins loan and the Stafford loan, both of which are low-interest, need-based loans. The Federal Parent PLUS loan is not need-based, but it is low-interest. To qualify, parents must have a undergraduate dependant child enrolled in college at least half-time.

The last two loans are institutional loans and private loans. Institutional loans are directly from the college and the payment and eligibility are determined by the college. A private loan, the least desirable option, is a loan from a private lender, bank or other organization. Private loans often have high interest rates.

Smith, who is applying to the University of Illinois-Chicago and Arizona State University, is still working on her scholarship applications.

“I’ve applied for scholarships through FastWeb and McDonald’s Corporation,” she said.