by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”TriCity Family Services (TCFS) offers counseling and other support services to people in need. However, as Sugar Grove resident and TCFS Friend Ann Alexander said, when an individual with an addiction has been able to give up drugs, or a single mom has received the support she needed to get by, or when a fragile marriage has been saved, the people who were helped don’t go around bragging about it.
â€œIt’s a challenge to get the word out,â€ Alexander said.
Alexander said she has been getting the word out about TCFS for 43 years, ever since her sister-in-law asked her to do some artwork for the agency. She has also raised money for its programs, solicited donations for its silent and public auctions and other fundraising events, and stuck around to clean up after an event has ended.
She was recognized recently for her many years of service to TCFS at its annual luncheon.
There, TCFS gave Alexander the Judy Burgess Award for Outstanding Volunteerism. The award was established in 1998 in honor of the Friends of TriCity Family Servicesâ€™ founder, Judy Burgess, of St. Charles.
According to a press release from TCFS about the award, â€œJudy demonstrated unfailing energy, and enthusiasm in establishing and perpetuating â€˜The Friendsâ€™ to support the work of TriCity Family Services.â€
Calling her â€œthe quintessential volunteer,â€ TCFS Executive Director Jim Otepka said that Alexander is one of the most dedicated board members ever to serve TCFS.
â€œLong before she began serving on the board, Ann was a dedicated phonathon volunteer and invaluable goodwill ambassador for the agency, always working behind the scenes to educate the community about TCFS and elicit the support of anyone who would listen to her story,â€ he said.
He said it would be impossible to calculate the volume of resources, both human and monetary, that Ann has brought to the agency. In addition to soliciting special event sponsorships and countless auction items, she has also recruited board members, Friends and new donors, many of whom have become perennial supporters of the agency.
Determined to make sure that every item at a silent auction was bid on, he said that Alexander would often go around and place a bid on an item that seemed to be lagging in interest. He said it was often a humorous scene at the end of the night, watching her walk out with a number of auction items under her arm.
Describing her boundless enthusiasm and energy, he explained how she took it upon herself to single-handedly organize a benefit at the Blackberry Polo Farm, as well as rolling up her sleeves to join the midnight clean-up crew at the annual benefit at the DuPage Airport.
According to Otepka, she even talked her husband out of his old, five-speed compact car, when one of the client families was in need of transportation.
â€œHowever, I believe Ann’s most enduring contributions to the life of this agency were more intangible,â€ he said. â€œThey were the gifts of her spirit. She has inspired all with her passion for her ministry of service and with the joy she exuded in carrying out this ministry. She really does put her faith into action.â€
TriCity Family Services
1120 Randall Ct.
Photo: Representatives of Tri City Family Services surround award recipient Ann Alexander. From left, Lori Hansen, Diane Gibson, Judy Burgess, Ann Alexander, Maureen Bird, Cheryl Hurt and Jami Johnson. Courtesy Photo