LASO CORPORATION PRESIDENT RECEIVES CIVIC AWARD (from Daily Herald, "Wheaton businesses honor those who give back," Marco Santana, 2/24/11)



Laurie Swanson Oberhelman can be forgiven for being speechless Wednesday. After all, not only was it her father’s birthday, but she also learned that a Make-A-Difference event she spearheaded had been chosen to receive national recognition by the USA Today.

To top it all off, the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce announced that she had won the Citizen of the Year Award, an award given each year to those who give back.

“You give back to the community and it just feels great to be acknowledged,” said the longtime Wheaton resident. “It’s an acknowledgement for doing a little bit whenever I can.”

The announcement came during the 3rd Annual Gamon Awards ceremony that handed out 10 awards and recognitions to businesses and residents in the community. The who’s who of Wheaton business and politics watched as chamber members introduced the categories, which included small business, restaurant and marketing awards, as well as recognition of 30 future leaders in Wheaton under 30 years old. The winners included a marketing campaign by I Have a Bean Coffee and Ivy Restaurant for Restaurant of the Year. Wheaton Meat Co. won the Small Retail Business of the Year Award.

Chamber President Jill Seijo said the purpose of the awards is to recognize businesses in the community.

“This is the one event that brings together all of the different members of the chamber, as well as the community,” she said.

Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk and his opponent in the April election, Councilman John Prendiville, both took time out from campaigning to attend the event.

“It’s a recognition of the membership and of the community,” Gresk said. “Theirs is a very supportive chamber which is proud of its history.”

“It recognizes the people who contribute to our city,” Prendiville said. “It brings attention to the people who benefit our city by contributing their efforts.”

The festive night included entertainment by Wheaton Warrenville South High School students.

While the chamber recognized many businesses throughout the night, not all were retail-based.

“Seeing a whole community of people here who are responsible for our success, we cannot do anything without them,” said Lesley Gena, who directs the People’s Resource Center’s art programs. The resource center was recognized as the Not for Profit Organization of the Year.

“You are working every day knowing that you are making a difference. You don’t expect this honor. But it is great,” Gena said.

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Many residents are drawn to Wheaton for intangible qualities- a sense of community or the spirit of giving back.  Now, USA Weekend Magazine is recognizing Wheaton as a national award winner for these very qualities, and the giving keeps on going.

In its April 10, 2011 issue, USA Weekend Magazine will feature Wheaton as one of only three cities nationwide to receive its Make A Difference Day Award.  The award specifically honors Wheaton's participation in Make A Difference Day on Oct. 23, 2010.  For the past 20 years, communities nationwide have participated in Make A Difference Day, which is knows as the "national day of doing good" for its focus on neighbors helping neighbors.

Wheaton's Community Relations Commission challenged individuals, families, students, churches, businesses and other organizations to take part in the community's 10th annual Make A Difference Day effort, and the results were outstanding.

Here are just a few of the projects that made a difference in Wheaton:

  • The Chamber of Commerce Stuff-a-Truck Event filled two big dump trucks and several small trucks with enough non-perishable food to feed more than 200 families through its food drive for the People's Resource Center.
  • Emerson, Whittier and Lincoln elementary schools supported Operations Support Our Troops by holding donation drives, writing letters to soldiers and collecting goods to make holiday stockings for troops overseas.
  • Monroe Middle School's Student Council visited Wynscape Rehab Center to play games and pass out treat bags to residents.
  • St. Paul Lutheran Church held HIV screenings and provided educational information about HIV and AIDS.

In true Wheaton style, the giving didn't stop with that one day on October.  Being named one of USA Weekend Magazine's three city winners also included a donation of $10,000 to a local charity.  The Community Relations Commission chose the People's Resource Center to receive the donation because of the community's overwhelming response to the Stuff-A-Truck Event, which was central to Make A Difference Day.  "The Stuff-A-Truck event was really a coming-together of all the pieces of the Wheaton community - the City, the Park District, the schools, the businesses, the library, churches, the Chamber and Wheaton residents, " said Laurie Swanson Oberhelman of the Community Relations Commission.  "It was about working together to achieve a common goal and having fun doing it."

The commission invited all residents who participated in Make A Difference Day to attend a congratulatory reception on March 21 before a Wheaton City Council meeting.  Reception attendees proceeded into the Council Chambers for the meeting - during which the commission surprised the People's Resource Center by announcing it was receiving a $10,000 donation from Newman's Own Inc.

The People's Resource Center will use the donation to further its mission of helping low-income DuPage County residents meet their basic needs.  The Wheaton-based nonprofit does this through its food pantry, clothing for residents in need, job skills training, computer training and more.


The Laso Community

Laurie Swanson and The Laso Corporation enjoy being a part of things. We are active in our local community as well as communities that serve our industry and the industries of our clients.

Laurie receiving award from chamber representative

Laso was nominated for the 2010 Small Business of the Year award, which is one of the Gamon awards to be presented by the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce!

In the photo, Laurie Swanson (on the right) receives the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award for 2009.


Laso sponsored the Salvation Army Bell Ringer at Ultra Foods in Wheaton during the 2010 holiday season.

Photo of Saavation Army Bell Ringer sponsored by Laso.


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