Die Welt, sie ist klein

humansofnewyork:

„So get this. I’m driving down Park Avenue one day and this guy waves for me, so I pull over and I ask him where he’s going. He tells me 74th street, and I tell him that’s too far for me, because my shift just ended, so he says ‘thanks anyway’ and walks away. But then I think about it, and I start feeling bad for the guy, cause hey— I got a conscience. So I call him back to the cab and tell him to hop in. And he gets in the car all excited, all animated, and he’s talking about all these things. But he’s got his cap pulled down way over his eyes, so I can’t see who it is. But pretty soon I start to recognize his voice. And when we get to a light, I turn to him, and I look him in the eye, and I scream: „WIIIIIIILLLSSSSSOOOOOOON!!!“ And that really got him. He started laughing hard. He sees that I’ve got this Ferrari hat on, and a Ferrari shirt too, so he starts calling me ‘Mr. Ferrari.’ The whole ride, he keeps calling me ‘Mr. Ferrari.’ So after we get to his destination, we snap a quick photo, and he goes on his way. And I think that’s it. But that’s not it, cause get this. Over the next few weeks, I just happen to randomly pick up people that know him. People who have acted with him before, people who work with him. And every time, I tell them: ‘Tell Mr. Hanks that Mr. Ferrari says ‘hello.’“ Every time I say that. Then one day I’m driving, and I get a text from one of the people that I’d driven, and it says: ‘Mr. Hanks wants to invite you to see his Broadway show.’ So I bring my lady to the show, and we get to go backstage and everything, and after the show, we’re waiting for him in his dressing room, and he walks in and screams: ‘Mr. Ferrari!’ Can you believe that story? And you wanna know the craziest thing? The name of his show was ‘Lucky Guy.’ How crazy is that? Cause that was me. A lucky guy!“

Love these storys, and this one in patricular.

via http://www.humansofnewyork.com/

via http://mariemachtbilder.tumblr.com/

Willkommen im Schaumburg der Superlative

Von Marie Denecke

Schaumburg gibt es zweimal auf der Welt: in Niedersachsen und im US-Staat Illinois. Seit gut drei Jahrzehnten ist der Austausch zwischen den Kommunen rege und kreativ – und die Zeit als Schaumburger in Schaumburg, USA, eine Erfahrung, die einen so bald nicht mehr loslässt. Ein Erfahrungsbericht.

Ist man als deutscher Schaumburger zu Gast bei Einwohnern der Stadt Schaumburg im US-Bundesstaat Illinois, dauert es nicht lang, bis die Fragen kommen: Wart ihr schon einmal in den USA? Welchen Ruf haben Amerikaner in Deutschland? Sprechen alle Deutschen so gut Englisch? Was haltet ihr von unserem Präsidenten?

Hoch und höher: Gilt für Schaumburgs Feuerwehrautos wie für die Stadt selbst. Fotos: M.Denecke

Hoch und höher: Das gilt für Schaumburgs Feuerwehrautos genauso wie für die US-Stadt selbst. Fotos: M.Denecke

Und ab und zu muss man auch unwillkürlich lächeln; da wird schon mal gefragt, ob in Deutschland auf der linken Straßenseite gefahren wird. Man wird den Eindruck nicht los, dass Deutschland für vermeintlich weitverbreitete Merkmale wie Kopfsteinpflaster und Lederhosen genauso gemocht wird wie für seine Autos und seine Ingenieurskunst. Dass das Deutschlandbild vieler Amerikaner eher einem Märchenbuch denn der Realität gleicht, sollte allerdings schnell zu verzeihen sein: Schließlich ist man vom deutschen Schaumburg aus in rund sieben Autostunden in Paris, während man vom amerikanischen Schaumburg aus nach rund sieben Stunden gerade mal in Nashville, Tennesse, ist. Die Dimensionen sind da also ganz, ganz andere als bei „uns“.

Doch trotz oder vielleicht gerade, weil manche Amerikaner ihren Kontinent oder gar ihr Land noch nie in ihrem Leben verlassen haben, bringen sie den deutschen Besuchern eine Gastfreundschaft entgegen, wie man sie hier wohl lange suchen müsste: Natürlich kannst du mein Auto benutzen, hier ist der Schlüssel zu meinem Haus, der Kühlschrank ist voll, bedien dich. Ist man gemeinsam essen oder einkaufen, muss man regelrecht eine Debatte lostreten, um auch mal selbst etwas zahlen zu dürfen.

150 Jahre alt – für Amerika biblisch, für Deutschland neuere Geschichte

Rund 150 Jahre ist die Geschichte der Stadt Schaumburg alt, für US-Standard biblisch, für Deutsche eher neuere Geschichte. Als im Jahr 1840 die ersten deutschen Aussiedler in die gerade frisch zur Besiedlung freigegebene Gegend kamen, hieß die Stadt noch „Sarah’s Grove“. Die Überlieferung will es, dass 1851, während einer Einwohnerversammlung, über einen neuen Stadtnamen gestritten wurde – bis ein Friedrich Nerge, ursprünglich aus Reinsdorf bei Apelern, mit der Faust auf den Tisch schlug und rief: „Schaumburg schall et heiten!“

Seitdem hat sich freilich eine Menge getan in der 75 000 Einwohner zählenden Stadt, die rund eine Autostunde von der drittgrößten Stadt der USA, Chicago, entfernt liegt.

Schaumburg liegt bei Chicago. Und mitten in Chicago liegt das bekannte Kunstwerk "The Bean".

Schaumburg liegt bei Chicago. Und mitten in Chicago liegt das bekannte Kunstwerk „The Bean“.

Wer verstehen will, wie dieses Schaumburg funktioniert, der sollte die Stadtbücherei aufsuchen. Nicht nur, um sich ein Buch über die Geschichte der Stadt auszuleihen, sondern, um den Bestand an Büchern, Hörbüchern, DVDs, CDs, Schallplatten und digitalen Dateien, der insgesamt über zehn Million Euro wert ist, zu bestaunen.

Auch wenn die amerikanische Wirtschaft immer noch am Boden liegt, sich die Immobilienpreise im Keller befinden, während sich Arbeitslosenzahlen und Benzinpreise auf nie gekannten Höchstniveaus befinden, geht es Schaumburg noch vergleichsweise gut. Die Zentrale des Elektronikkonzerns Motorola sitzt dort, mit der „Woodfield Mall“ ist dort die fünftgrößte Einkaufsstraße des Landes angesiedelt, in der derzeit 285 Geschäfte zu finden sind – in direkter Nachbarschaft zu mehreren Outlets und Einkaufszentren. Weiterer großer Anziehungspunkt ist das Einrichtungshaus IKEA, das hier vor rund zehn Jahren eine der ersten Filialen der USA eröffnete.

Dieses in Schaumburg angesiedelte Gewerbe bekommt der Gemeinde gut, denn rund 80 Prozent der Grundsteuer, egal ob von Motorola oder von einer fünfköpfigen Familie gezahlt, gehen in Schaumburgs Bildungseinrichtungen.

Und so ist die dreistöckige Stadtbücherei eines von vielen Vorzeigestücken der Stadt mit einem zur Verfügung stehenden Budget von 15 Millionen US-Dollar (etwa 10,5 Millionen Euro) pro Jahr. Es ist die zweitgrößte Bibliothek in Illinois, hat eine Million Besucher pro Jahr, 300 Angestellte, es gibt große Sektionen für die sechs in Schaumburg meistgesprochenen Sprachen neben Englisch, nämlich Spanisch, Polnisch, Hindi, Urdu, Japanisch und Chinesisch. Allein die Jugendabteilung umfasst 600 000 Bücher, es gibt eine Abteilung für körperlich behinderte Menschen mit speziellen Computern, ein Kindertheater, einen Werkraum, sein Bewerbungstraining kann man genauso absolvieren wie einen Sudoku-Kurs.

Beliebte Ratgeber: Wie schafft mein Kind die Schule?

In der Kinderabteilung werden allerdings auch gern Ratgeber ausgeliehen, die verraten, wie das eigene Kind in Schultests besonders gut abschneidet, damit es später den Sprung auf eine gute Schule schafft. Die Zahl der Kinder, die eigens auf diesen Zweck zugeschnittene Förderprogramme besuchen, liegt auch im recht wohlhabenden Schaumburg im hohen fünfstelligen Bereich.

„Das ändert sich derzeit mit der Obama-Regierung“, sagt Bibliotheksleiterin Stephanie Sarnoff. Der US-Präsident habe den starken Konkurrenzdruck aus dem amerikanischen Schulsystem genommen.

Auch die insgesamt 27 Schulen und die Universität des Bezirks profitieren von der Grundsteuer-Praxis und den Verkaufssteuern der Einzelhändler, 285 Millionen US-Dollar (rund 199 Millionen Euro) stehen dem Bezirk somit jährlich zur Verfügung.

So wird an der Blackwell-Grundschule zum Beispiel parallel in Englisch und Gebärdensprache unterrichtet: Obwohl nur zwölf der insgesamt 300 Schüler hier hörgeschädigt oder taub sind, sollen die Kinder integriert aufwachsen. Ebenso gibt es zahlreiche Grundschulen, an denen zweisprachig auf Englisch und Spanisch oder auch mal auf Japanisch unterrichtet wird.

Mythos Schaumburg

Seinen Stolz auf Schaumburg kann auch der (schwedischstämmige) Al Larson, seit 1987 Bürgermeister von Schaumburg und mit seinen 72 Jahren gerade zu weiteren vier Jahren im Amt vereidigt, nicht verbergen: Von einer „Schaumburg myth“, einem Schaumburger Mythos, der durch die USA gehe, spricht er. Dieser „Mythos“ hat seinen Ursprung vor allem in einer Tatsache: Die Einkaufsmöglichkeiten in Schaumburg sind beinahe unendlich.

Genauso wie das nahe Chicago ist auch Schaumburg ein Produkt sorgfältiger Stadtplanung: In den 60er Jahren griff der Stadtentwicklungsplan des damaligen Bürgermeisters, um aus dem eher ländlichen Schaumburg eine attraktive Stadt zu machen. Der Plan wurde mit der Eröffnung der „Woodfield Mall“ im Jahr 1971 beendet, Einzelhandel, Industrie und Wohnungsbau entwickelten sich überdurchschnittlich, ganze Stadtteile wurden von Grund auf renoviert, Ghettos wurden zu Parkanlagen umgestaltet.

In den 90er Jahren kamen neben mehr Gewerbe auch Restaurantketten und eine Schnellverbindung zum internationalen Flughafen O’Hare dazu, 2000 erfolgte die letzte große Baumaßnahme mit einem 30 000 Quadratmeter großen Messezentrum, gleichzeitig Designer-Hotel mit 500 Räumen.

Glaubt man Bürgermeister Larson, ist Schaumburgs Entwicklung noch nicht beendet: Folgen sollen noch ein Kulturzentrum sowie schnellere Verkehrsanbindungen nach Chicago. Gerade hat Schaumburg sein Baseballteam aufgelöst, es soll neu besetzt werden und besser spielen.

Kulturschock: Unvermeidbar

Keine Frage, die Dimensionen in den USA sind im Vergleich zu Deutschland ganz andere. Um diese Unterschiede aber nicht zu Grenzen werden zu lassen, sondern um „Brücken zu bauen“, wie sie es im eigenen Motto benennt, kümmert sich seit 1983 auf deutscher Seite die Schaumburger Deutsch-Amerikanische Gesellschaft (SDAG). Mal besuchen jugendliche Sportmannschaften oder Bands einander, mal einheitliche oder gemischte Berufsgruppen aus Polizisten, Feuerwehrleute oder Krankenpfleger.

Eine Art Kulturschock lässt sich wohl kaum vermeiden: Die USA sind ein Land, in dem Rassismus noch immer ein großes Thema ist und der Bürgerkrieg regelmäßig nachgespielt wird; in dem „gleich um die Ecke“ heißt, dass man eine Viertelstunde mit dem Auto braucht; in dem man sich in jedem Supermarkt leicht verlaufen kann; in dem viele Menschen nicht mehr wissen, wie eine lebendige Kuh aussieht.

Gleichzeitig ist der Aufenthalt in einer Gastfamilie, die sich ein Bein ausreißt, um dem deutschen Besuch die besten Seiten der eigenen Stadt und des eigenen Landes zu zeigen, eine Erfahrung, die einen nicht mehr loslässt. Und wenn es zurück ins eigene Land gehen soll, sind bislang bei jedem Abschied Tränen geflossen.

Informationen: Mehr Informationen über die SDAG gibt es unter http://www.sdag-shg.de.

Veröffentlicht in der Schaumburger Zeitung am 21.05.2011. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

Families and friends light candles for overdose victims

By Marie Denecke

It was an event that, as a reporter, you would wish there was not one story to tell. Because it would mean there would be no life lost and no battle still to be fought.

But on Thursday night, hundreds came to a candlelight vigil on the Schaumburg campus of Roosevelt University to raise awareness about the danger of drug overdose. And everyone — parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends — had a story to tell.

They’d tell you how heroin and other drugs are not only a problem in the big cities and among people living in the streets, but they also are a scourge afflicting teenagers and young adults in the suburbs.

Phillip Radcliffe of Wheeling was 23 when he died of an overdose.

“He was a good boy. And I’d tell his story every day, because every day, somebody dies of an overdose,” said his father, Bob.

Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium for Drug Policy reached out to 17 suburban substance abuse awareness organizations to help organize the event. The vigil marked the first big gathering in Illinois for International Overdose Awareness Day, which is Friday.

People gathered to share memories, to say prayers, and to tell stories of struggle and recovery while candles were lit. Families and friends also brought photos of those who died.

“It is nice and tragic at the same time to see so many people here,” said Jim Adair of Arlington Heights, who lost his oldest son, Brian, to an overdose in 2009. His wife, Grace, joined the Grief Recovery After A Substance Passing (GRASP) group a year later to support other parents and raise awareness.

“People just don’t realize how easy it is to get drugs,” said Jim Adair, who, as a high school teacher, tries to raise awareness in his classes. “It’s an aggressively growing problem.”

John Roberts of Homer Glen calls it an “epidemic — but nobody is talking about it!” He lost his son Billy in 2009. Together with Brian Kirk, whose son also died of an overdose, he founded the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization, also known as HERO.

The death of a child through drug overdose is often seen as “stigma” by society, said Jim Adair.

Bob Radcliffe agreed, saying “it’s important for parents not to hide it.”

The 17 suburban groups set up booths to raise awareness and donations for their cause. Kathie Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium for Drug Policy, handed out Saving Lives Courage Award to 18 individuals and the groups GRASP, Open Hearts, Open Eyes, and Take A Stand for their commitment and work.

The rally also featured training sessions on the overdose prevention drug Naloxone and other memorial and advocacy presentations.

“I hope we don’t ever have to do this again,” said Kane-Willis.

And there certainly everyone there would have agreed.

Veröffentlicht im Daily Herald am 31.8.2012. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

Hundreds of deer die due to virus in Cook County

By Marie Denecke

A disease that was unknown to local experts until only a few weeks ago is killing hundreds of deer in the Chicago area — and until the first frost comes, those numbers could still go up.

Humans can’t be infected, but so far, it has caused the deaths of roughly 200 deer in Cook County. Six suspect cases have also been reported in Kane County. None have been reported so far in DuPage and Lake counties.

“I have been working here for 30 years, but I have never come across EHD,” said Chris Anchor, wildlife biologist for the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

EHD is short for epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a virus that usually kills deer within a week after infection. It spreads from deer to deer through midges — small, biting flies. And until only a few weeks ago, it had been unknown in this part of Illinois.

EHD has been around in the United States for roughly 60 years, the first outbreak occurring in Michigan and New Jersey in 1955. The disease, which usually appears in the Midwest and Northeast, apparently found its way to this area with a combination of “a mild winter and a hot summer,” Anchor said.

It is a disease that seems to spread rapidly. Anchor heard of the first cases of EHD in Cook County only two weeks ago. And the number of deer deaths attributed to it has doubled in the last week. Cases have been concentrated in Hanover, Schaumburg and Palatine townships.

In Kane County, two cases have been reported to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. People paddling canoes on the Fox River have reported finding four dead deer, said Bill Graser, wildlife biologist of the Kane County Forest Preserve District. Although he does not know yet if they died of EHD, he considers them to be “suspect cases.”

“And probably there will be more dead deer,” he said.

Graser said he is planning to do research to become more familiar with the symptoms of the disease.

The midge, a small fly that most humans don’t even notice, cannot survive frost, which means that the disease disappears with the onset of frost, usually in mid- or late October.

The disease cannot be transmitted to humans or pets.

Deer usually show signs of the illness a week after getting infected: They lose their appetite and their fear of humans, develop a high fever and respiration problems, and start to drool. Some also bleed internally. They look for bodies of water to cool themselves down. A few hours after these symptoms show, the deer enters a shocklike state, lies down and dies.

Could EHD become a regular phenomenon in this area?

“There is no way to predict that,” Anchor said.

If you find a dead deer, call your local forest preserve district. To report a dead deer on Forest Preserve of Cook County property, call (708) 771-1180. Cook County Forest Preserve District has posting information about EHD on its website, http://fpdcc.com/ehd.

Veröffentlicht am 4.9.2012 im Daily Herald. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

Residents rake in thousands renting homes for Ryder Cup

By Marie Denecke

Golf fans by the score will be flocking to Medinah Country Club during Ryder Cup week. And many won’t be staying in hotels, but in the homes of area residents. This cottage industry, if you will, gives the locals a chance to accommodate guests from all over the world — while making good money in the process.

Monique and Russ Felker are renting out their 2,200-square-foot home for the four days of the international tournament pitting the best golfers from the U.S. against a European team.

The Felkers‘ home is within walking distance of the entrance to Medinah and has a direct view of the golf course. It also has a spacious living room, big screen TVs, pool table and a furnished patio. Although she wouldn’t say exactly how much rental income the family will receive, Monique Felker said that it will be enough to almost fully pay her three children’s private school tuition for next year.

The Felkers listed their property on a website devoted to the renting of homes for fans looking to attend big sporting events. People pitching their homes for a Ryder Cup stay are offering top-of-the-line amenities: fireplaces, Jacuzzis, pool tables, private bars, theater rooms — and in some cases, a maid, if requested. Those creature comforts come with a cost: $1,500 per night for a 2,000-square-foot home and $2,500 per night for a 4,000-square-foot home are typical offerings.

But one night in a high-end home can also cost up to $6,000 — although mostly, homeowners prefer not to communicate prices publicly.

“Home rentals have become a big business,” said Robert E. Hayes, chief executive officer of Phoenix-based Sports Event Rentals, which lists and finds properties for rent for more than 300 sporting events worldwide, including the Ryder Cup, the Super Bowl and the Olympic Games. Residents who want to offer their homes on the website, http://www.sportseventrentals.com, pay a one-time fee of $49.95.

Sports Events Rentals solicits business through search engine optimization, which improves the rank of a website when certain keywords are entered into search engines. And before specific events, Hayes said, the website is advertised in magazines tied to the event and in neighborhoods close to the event.

The Felkers put their house on the market in March, where it sat until a few weeks ago when a contract was signed allowing four golf fans to move in. So what happens to the Felker family during that week? They’re going camping in their mobile home trailer. While four strangers are living in their house, the Felker family, including three of their own kids and two Korean exchange students they are hosting, will be on the road.

“The kids are pretty excited,” said Monique Felker, and it’s about more than just the camping. The children’s rooms are being repainted and equipped with new furniture at the wish of the company renting the dwelling, which wanted the house to be more “adult friendly,” she said. Toys and personal items are being temporarily stored, something the children don’t like so much, Monique Felker said, noting the family picked up the tab of the remodeling.

The upcoming Ryder Cup isn’t the first opportunity for Medinah-area residents to rent out their homes. In fact, one of the online ads for this year’s tournament boasts that the home was rented to Tiger Woods during the 2006 PGA Championship held at Medinah. The couple running the ad were not available for comment. It’s unclear how many homes are being rented through such websites or in privately brokered deals. Local convention and tourism bureaus, which track hotel business, said they don’t monitor home rentals.

“It’s happening, but we don’t hear much about it,” said Dave Parulo, president of the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau in Schaumburg.

But just being ready to become a Ryder Cup landlord isn’t a guarantee it will happen. Addison resident James Duda said he noticed the home rental company’s advertisements on fliers and postcards. He decided to try to rent out his house “to make a little extra cash.” Friends of his had done it before, said Duda, and the family of four thought, “Why don’t we try it?”

So far, however, the family hasn’t been able to close on a contract, although they have had numerous inquiries. For their three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot home, Duda is asking for $1,000 per night. That’s discounted from the higher price when the home was first put online, he said. “We had high expectations,” he said.

Maybe that’s proof one can never start to early in the sports home-rental business. Homeowners already are marketing their residences for the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland.

Veröffentlicht im Daily Herald am 4.9.2012. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

Suburban teams prepared for today’s „Flugtag“

By Marie Denecke

Among the 28 teams competing today in the Red Bull Flugtag at North Avenue Beach, it will be easy to make out Jimmy O’Brien of Palatine. Most likely, he’ll be the only one who will attempt to fly a huge mustache.

As you may have guessed, the Flugtag is not a normal flying contest. These pilots don’t have a license. What they have is guts: Each of them will pilot his self-made flying machine off a 30-foot high platform built into Lake Michigan — hoping the aircraft will carry as far as possible before crashing into the water.

“We would like to win, but it’s mainly about the fun,” said O’Brien, captain of the “Shuffling Staches.”

And it is about celebrating weeks of hard work with family, friends, and the hundreds of thousands that watch the event live or on TV.

Nonetheless, O’Brien and his team have prepared carefully for this day, O’Brien even losing 10 pounds. One of the hardest parts was deciding how their aircraft should look.

“We started off with some pretty bad ideas,” said O’Brien. And then their thoughts turned to Chicago, the upcoming football season and the Chicago Bears, a team that O’Brien has been “obsessed with” all his life.

That is why he is going to pilot a 15-foot mustache — made of cardboard, plastic, PVC, rope, nails and even bamboo — a tribute to football legend Mike Ditka.

The Flugtag — “flying day” in German — is a worldwide event last held in Chicago in 2003 and 2008. Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz organized the first Flugtag in Vienna in 1991. Since then it has been held more than 100 times worldwide.

A jury will decide a winner based on the distance each craft flies before crashing into the water, plus the teams’ showmanship, and their creativity.

Aircraft have to be human-powered and are restricted in size. Otherwise, the design is completely up to the teams.

Jim Gollwitzer of Roselle didn’t have to go far for inspiration: A drawing of a caged gorilla made by his 7-year-old daughter was all his team, the “Zoo Keepers,” needed.

Their aircraft is going to look like a gorilla cage with wings. Mostly, the aircraft is wood and PVC, but they picked up some golf course turf to make the inside of the cage look like real grass.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this,” said Gollwitzer. “We worked nonstop.”

The “Shuffling Staches” is not the only team with a sports idea: Andy Ottenweller of the “Harry Caray Express” team is going to “fly” a huge baseball bat with an attached home plate. And in honor of Harry Caray, a bubblehead figure of the longtime baseball broadcaster will sit on top of it.

“I always wanted to get in (the Flugtag),” said Ottenweller. The team, consisting of his wife and three co-workers, is based in Batavia.

Ottenweller is confident the Express will fly.

“Our best aspect is the creativity and design part,” he said, adding the Chicago motif might inspire the judges.

Getting into the Flugtag is strenuous, as well. Every team has to describe themselves, their idea and their design and include detailed drawings. Jimmy O’Brien said Red Bull representatives invited them to a party, where they had to show up in their costumes and bring more drawings.

For Naresh Nair of Palatine, it will be his third Chicago Flugtag. He did a “Smurfs” design in 2008; now he captains the “Chicago Muppets.”

Meaning, that on Saturday morning he will fly a plane that resembles the multicolored “Electric Mayhem Bus” from “The Muppet Movie.”

“We have spent lots of hours on it, easily 100,” designing and redesigning the bus, assembling, reassembling and painting it, said Nair.

And to give the audience the whole “Muppet” experience, Nair will don a blonde wig and a pink feather boa and will go flying as Miss Piggy.

Nair said his team has a good chance to win. Not only because of creativity, but because their bus will actually fly over a hundred feet.

The “Red Bull Flugtag” takes place Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at North Avenue Beach, Chicago. More info is at http://www.redbullusa.com or redbullflugtagusa.com.

Veröffentlicht im Daily Herald am 8.9.2012. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

Barrington firm helps people find jobs

By Marie Denecke

When Beth McAndrews of Barrington decided to look for a job, she had been out of work for 13 years, raising four girls at home. That was in spring 2011, when the nation’s unemployment rate was still about 9 percent.

McAndrews, 47, hadn’t written a resume in that time and didn’t even have a copy of her old one. “I had to start all over again,” she said. “It was overwhelming.”

She is one of many women who have a college degree but have been out of work for a long time to raise their families. When they decide to go back to work, they face the challenge of re-entering a much-altered work world.

Today, however, McAndrews has a success story to tell. Not only did she get a job far sooner than she expected, but she also was able to find one for Janet VanZant, a Deer Park resident who was in a very similar position, having been out of work for 12 years to raise four daughters.

According to Chris Campbell, executive director of CareerPlace, a career counseling center in Barrington that McAndrews worked with, her approach was sound and holds lessons for others who are out of work or re-entering the workforce after a long lapse.

McAndrews said her oldest daughter, 18, recently got into college, and with three girls in high school, the youngest being 14, “we have to pay a lot of tuition. I knew I could help with that.”

When she started her job search, however, the task seemed daunting: Not only had it been a long time since she held a job, the whole process of finding one had changed.

Networking is now mostly online through resources such as LinkedIn; Twitter is just one example of the new ways of communication.

“When I left my last job, I didn’t even have a cellphone,” said McAndrews.

To avoid facing the process alone, McAndrews signed up at CareerPlace, where she especially connected with counselor Ana Trbojevich, who helped her put together a resume and prep for interviews.

“Making 13 years (of not having a job) look like something was hard,” said McAndrews. However, while raising four children, McAndrews had kept busy, volunteering for different organizations and taking computer classes.

It took her only half a year, two applications and one interview to get the job she is happy with: treasurer for Deer Park.

Once there, she learned about another open position, for a part-time administrative assistant.

“I instantly thought: That position needs to be posted,” said McAndrews. She contacted CareerPlace.

It didn’t take long for that offer to get to Janet VanZant, 46, who has an MBA in finance but went without a paying job for 12 years to raise her daughters.

She came to CareerPlace in January 2012 and saw the Deer Park job position, posted by McAndrews, on LinkedIn. After she applied, it took only two days for her to get invited for an interview, and after only a few days, she was offered the job.

“Everything just came together,” said VanZant. She now works from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., hours that her youngest, a 3-year-old daughter, spends in day care.

Campbell said both women were wise not to try to find another job all alone, but to get professional training and advice.

“People need to be ‚findable,’” said Campbell, meaning they should use professional career platforms like LinkedIn to present themselves and their resumes online. But personal contact, networking and recommendations from others also are still important — a factor that young people sometimes underestimate, he said.

CareerPlace, formed in 1994, is a career center with an average of 300 clients from 80 communities. Clients pay $100 a year, said Campbell; the rest of the cost — $500 per client — comes via donors and fundraising.

Clients sign up for “modules,” packages of 15 courses that build on one another, including personal sessions and interview training. Most of the more than 50 coaches are volunteers.

Campbell, 62, became executive director about a month ago, replacing Monica Keene, who left after seven years. He was a client himself at CareerPlace six years ago, when the publishing company he worked for downsized and he lost his job as the senior vice president of marketing.

“It was unlikely I would find another job” in that field, said Campbell.

A coach told him that he should follow his passion. He engaged in what he calls a “portfolio career,” doing several things at the same time. He started a consulting firm, became a key figure in a networking group, and started commission furniture and real estate businesses.

He called the transition period “painful,” but worth it: “I am fortunate to be able to do the things that I love to do.”

More information about CareerPlace is on their website, mycareerplace.org.

Veröffentlicht im Daily Herald am 10.09.2012. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

Arlington Hts. bookmobile more than a mobile library

By Marie Denecke

When Harold Goldstein of the University of Illinois wrote in 1961 that bookmobiles could be “no more than an ancillary arm of the main institutions, serving as long as better agencies are not available,” he was proved right in most cases.

Bookmobiles in the Northwest suburbs mostly have been put to rest, three in the last two years alone, done in by the opening of branch libraries and the mechanical issues that can plague the vehicles.

However, after 39 years the bookmobile of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library is still going strong: It makes about 50 stops per month, carries 4,000 items and counts roughly 1,800 customers every month. Arlington Heights is one of six libraries that still operate bookmobiles in the area, next to Palatine, Cook Memorial in Libertyville, Warren-Newport in Gurnee, Skokie and Aurora.

What the bookmobile offers is proximity in more than one sense. Not only is it a library on wheels, it is also the place for personal contact — to meet and chat with neighbors, other customers and the bookmobile staff.

“A lot of people are asking for recommendations,” said Amy Henkels, who started working on the bookmobile three years ago and loves talking with customers, many of whom use it every time it makes a stop close to where they live.

Henkels herself has a history with the bookmobile, having been a regular visitor since she was a child.

Each month, the bookmobile stops at 29 places in Arlington Heights — twice at most of them, and three or four times at a few. Stops are usually close to schools, parks, elderly homes or apartment complexes.

“At our busiest stops, we get 60 or 70 people within one hour,” said bookmobile supervisor Teri Scallon.

She is one of three members of the library staff who acquired a special drivers license to be able to drive the bookmobile. They are supported by two other members, one of them Henkels, who sit in the back of the bus and help with checkouts.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the bookmobile stopped in front of Greens Park close to Olive-Mary Stitt School and it didn’t take long for people to gather and step inside.

For Michele Bozikis, it was her first visit to the bookmobile. Her son Jake, 4, wanted to show it to her after friends took him along on a visit.

“Usually we go to the library once a week, but this time, we wanted to see the bookmobile,” says Bozikis. And Jake does not leave empty-handed, choosing several books and Nintendo games to take home with him.

The bookmobile’s offerings include DVDs, CDs and Nintendo games. The biggest section is the “latest and greatest” section that holds the newest books. The mobile library houses from almost any genre including kids, teen or cookbooks.

“He just walked in and his eyes widened,” Liz Wojtkowski, 58, said of the first bookmobile visit by her 3-year-old grandson Tyler. While Tyler pulled out one children’s book after the other to take home, his grandmother checked out a few DVDs for herself.

On the bookmobile, DVDs can be checked out for two weeks as opposed to the one-week-deadline at the main library. Checked-out items can be returned either when the bookmobile comes around again or at the main library. Customers can also place a hold on an item from the main library and staff will bring it out to them with the bookmobile.

“I just love it,” Wojtkowski said.

Tanja Hamilton, 69, comes out every time the bookmobile stops at Greens Park. “I usually take one book home with me, sometimes two or three.”

The stop is not far from her home, Hamilton said, and the selection is appealing.

The Arlington Heights Memorial Library bookmobile is one of the few still operating. Out of the 12 libraries that used to have them in the suburbs, only four still have them today, said Scallon, the bookmobile supervisor.

One of the latest libraries to bid its bookmobile farewell was Des Plaines in December 2011. The library faced the decision of paying $20,000 for a new engine, $5,000 more than the 16-year-old bus was actually worth, or paying $350,000 for a new bus. Neither option seemed financially responsible to the officials, so they decided to drop the program.

And 18 months earlier, in June 2010, Indian Trails Public Library District serving the Wheeling/Prospect Heights area shut down its bookmobile service because of continuing mechanical problems.

So far, no such fate is likely in Arlington Heights.

“Oh no, there is no end in sight,” said Deb Whisler, director of communications and marketing for the library.

The key reason the bookmobile is still going strong in Arlington Heights is that the library does not have branch libraries, unlike some of the other bigger suburbs, Whisler said. Especially for those who cannot make it to the main library at 500 N. Dunton Ave., the bookmobile holds true value.

“Through the bookmobile, we serve all the parts of the community,” Whisler said. The bookmobile also travels to community events like Picnic in the Park and Autumn Harvest.

Its popularity is reflected in its use. During the past 10 years, nine have seen an increase in circulation, said Jeremy Andrykowski, senior manager of customer services. This August, for example, circulation was up 14 percent from the same month last year. During the last fiscal year, 83,781 items were checked out, Andrykowski said.

The current bookmobile is three years old, was designed according to the library’s wishes, has wheelchair access and runs on “green” resources, using biodiesel fuel, battery packs and sunroofs. How much money the library spends to provide bookmobile service, however, is not clear, as a cost/benefit analysis for it hasn’t been done in recent years, Andrykowski said.

The American Library Association estimates there are 900 bookmobiles still operating in the country. The special service is marked by National Bookmobile Day, celebrated during National Library Week in April.

Veröffentlicht im Daily Herald am 14.09.2012. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

Arlington Heights Library hopes to be community „hub“

By Marie Denecke

Arlington Heights Memorial Library is about to undergo its biggest makeover in decades, getting a renovation that will change its looks dramatically. The board is expected to approve the plans at a meeting Tuesday.

“As soon as we’ll have the authorization, we will start,” library Executive Director Jason Kuhl said.

The $2.8 million renovation will turn the library into a more organic, open and welcoming “community hub” — much like today’s bookstores — with a cafe, comfortable seating and a section devoted to new, popular books. None of the current collections will disappear, but the remodeling recognizes that people who come to the library today spend more time there than in years past, Kuhl said.

“The way people use the library now is different,” he said. People are still checking out books — with 2.6 million checkouts yearly, the Arlington Heights library is one of the busiest in the country.

However, other core uses of the library have dropped immensely — for example, questions asked in person at the reference desk — while other services are growing, especially computer classes that had a 170 percent enrollment increase last year.

According to Kuhl, the $2.8 million will come out of the library’s current funds, and property taxes will not be increased. “We have known about this for years, and we have planned carefully,” Kuhl said.

The remodeling will be finished around mid-April 2013. The library will not close during the work, although some areas will be closed off and their collections moved temporarily. For about one week, the drive-up window and book drop-off will not be available as the underground parking lot is repaved.

News and announcements about relocations and the renovations in general will be published on the library’s website and on signs in the building.

The area where DVDs and CDs are currently situated will be turned into a “marketplace,” where new and popular books will be displayed.

“We want people to come and discover new authors,” Kuhl said. Here visitors will also find nonfiction books of popular categories such as gardening, cooking or fitness. A vending cafe and an open area for programs or displays will finish off the marketplace.

Back in the northwest corner, where big windows let in the light and frame the Arlington Heights Historical Museum across the street, the library will get its “living room,” Kuhl said, with a fireplace and lounge seating, funded by the Friends of the Library. This is also where the magazine section will move, which is currently on the second floor.

“A lot of people didn’t even know we had it,” Kuhl said. Library offices will move to the second floor.

“We want to stand side by side with our community,” Kuhl said, which is why the help desk will be reshaped to make it more accessible.

The checkout desk will be reduced in size, as more people are using self-checkout. Instead of standing behind counters, “our staff will be out, interacting with the people,” Kuhl said.

The computer assistance area will be remodeled and complemented by a conference room.

As more people don’t work in offices anymore or have started home businesses, they are using the library to work, research and meet clients, Kuhl said. Currently, visitors can use four small meeting rooms at the library, but 14 will be available at the end of the project.

Lastly, the library “is also a place for fun,” Kuhl said, mentioning the new teen area with an adjacent art studio and comfortable seats for the teenagers to sit together and chat.

To stay on top of the changes, signs will be put up in the library in advance and visitors should check the library website, ahml.info, for announcements.

Veröffentlicht im Daily Herald am 10.08.2012. Den Artikel gibt es hier.

63-year-old Brit cycles 2,500 miles to Mount Prospect

By Marie Denecke

It sounds like something someone would do in order to get into the Guinness Book of World Records: 63-year-old Jim Windass from Kingston-upon-Hull, England, is currently cycling Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago, battling some 2,500 miles, crossing the Rocky Mountains, enduring heat and exhaustion.

However, Windass is not after some sort of record. He is cycling Route 66 with a specific goal in mind: Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care in Mount Prospect. You can follow his journey day by day or make donations for his cause on his project’s website, http://www.cycle66.co.uk.

The Hospice did not know about this until a couple of months ago, said Public Relations Manager Jeff Okazaki. “It came completely out of the blue. We simply received an email from him, asking if we could be his end point!”

The reason why Windass chose a hospice to be the finish point of his undertaking is also the reason he started out on this journey: His late wife, Christine, passed away from cancer in July 2010.

She was cared for by Dove House Hospice in their hometown of Hull, which is the hospice that Windass is now raising money for.

Windass’s aim is to raise 10,000 pounds ($15,000), as British hospices depend largely on charitable donations. He chose this legendary road because he and his late wife always had an affinity for America.

But why finish in Mount Prospect? That, he admitted in an email, was a little bit of a coincidence: Windass was looking for a hospice close to Route 66 and its finish point.

However, he feels “lucky with the choice of hospices,” wrote Windass. Although the majority of miles is still ahead of him, he is already looking forward to arriving at Rainbow Hospice and meeting the staff “after talking to them in the buildup to this challenge and reading their messages of support.”

Windass, a regular cyclist, is riding by himself, but is followed by a backup team in an RV, consisting of his son, Andy, a professional physiotherapist, and a friend.

At home he is supported by his other son, Steve, and Steve’s partner, Catherine, who take care of Windass’s website and the donations.

Being from England, where, “at this time of year, it rains a lot,” wrote Windass, he did not expect the climate he is currently encountering crossing Arizona.

“But what I have to go through is nothing compared to what Christine went through; 18 years of cancer, never complaining once,” Windass wrote in his email.

His schedule is tight: The Rainbow Hospice is expecting Windass to arrive on Aug. 27, where he will get quite a reception.

“We will have a finish line for him and an exchange of cultures with things brought over from England,” said Okazaki. The staff will be preparing a party, the British Consulate General being one of the guests.

But that is not the only surprise for the Windass. “We will probably have deep-dish pizza waiting for him,” Okazaki added.

Veröffentlicht am 10.08.2012 im Daily Herald. Den Artikel gibt es hier.