When ordinary people do their part to help with cleaning up the environment, coaching sports, organizing and running community events, helping veterans, the victims of natural disasters
and so on, everyone benefits.
It is for this reason that The Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce annually recognizes those in their organization and the community who reach out to help in various capacities without expecting anything in return.
Volunteer of the Year
It should be no surprise that Mike Clements, a local home inspector, was named the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year. He has long been a fixture at Chamber events, setting up and tearing down the Main Event and Taste of Arlington in August, serving at the Beer Fest in October and bartending at other various events and functions. Clements is also an active member of both the Arlington Heights Lions Club and the Arlington Heights Rotary Club and can be seen volunteering at their events.
Clements joined the Chamber years ago when he was the part-owner and general manager of Clementi’s Pizzeria and Bar, which has since closed. The various civic clubs and the Chamber held meetings at Clementi’s, so he got to know the members and became involved in the groups.
Today Clements continues to stay involved and says he thoroughly enjoys being involved in the different organizations’ fun events and “giving back a bit.”
“Being involved in local organizations also helps my home inspection business by letting me get to know local Realtors and real estate attorneys,” Clements said.
Community Leader of the Year
Jim Bertucci, a stalwart member of the Chamber since 1991 and an Arlington Heights Heart of Gold winner, was named Community Leader of the Year. He is an investment adviser/financial planner with a practice in the village.
“Joining the Chamber was great from a business standpoint, but it also worked for me because I like to network and meet lots of people,” Bertucci said.
However, his outreach to Arlington Heights does not end with the Chamber, of which he was once president. Bertucci has been president of the Rotary Club, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board and the Arlington Heights Crime Stoppers Board. He has also been vice president of the Arlington Heights Historical Society and currently is vice president of the Performing Arts at Metropolis Board.
In addition, he has co-chaired the Mayor’s Community Prayer Breakfast Committee at St. James Catholic Church, is a member of the St. James Leadership Summit and began a Men’s Bible Study group. He has also directed the Rotary Club’s Santa Run and recently helped the Arlington Heights Memorial Library launch its Foundation.
“I believe in giving back,” he said. “I guess you could say that I have a social itch. I like to bring people together for good discussions and fun. I also believe in trying to leave my community better than it was when I found it.”
Non Profit of the Year
SALUTE INC., founded by Will and Mary Beth Beiersdorf, earned the Non Profit of the Year award. Founded 17 years ago, soon after Will returned from a 13-month deployment to Guantanamo Bay following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Salute Inc. has raised $4.7 million to help over 14,000 veterans and their families.
“When Will was deployed, we had three young children and I was a stay-at-home mom. Will’s employer held his job but wouldn’t make up the difference between his civilian pay and his military pay. So, the community of Arlington Heights stepped up to help. Gift cards, cutting our grass and babysitting were just a few ways people assisted our family,” Mary Beth said.
When Will returned home, the Beiersdorfs wanted to pay that kindness forward and without really intending to, started a nonprofit. It began with an annual fundraising 5K run and the rest is history.
“Our assistance to veterans and active duty military is not cookie cutter. We deliver what each family needs,” she said.
SALUTE’s volunteers and employees understand that the transition to civilian life is often difficult, especially where there is injury. So, SALUTE delivers short-term financial assistance to bridge the temporary income gaps and meet the basic needs of post-9/11 veterans, working with VA hospitals and other major medical centers to identify those in need.
SALUTE assists with mortgage and rent payments, utility bills and other resources.
“The Arlington Heights Chamber has witnessed through the years our efforts to pay it forward,” Beiersdorf said of the award. “SALUTE is a community effort. Our success is measured by those we have assisted locally and across the country. Honor the Service … Remember the Sacrifice.”