2018-2019 Board of Directors

Oak Forest Rotary Board of Directors 2018-2019

Pictured Left to Right: Jody Redmann, President; Jessica Rucinski, Youth Service Director; Joe Pilch, Secretary; Dorothy Kennedy, Treasurer; Dave Lugo, Sergeant at Arms; Bill Zerinskas, Membership Chair; Sue Wolf, Vocational Service Chair; Not pictured: Elizabeth Lewitke, Grants Chair, Tina Banialis, Community Service Chair


Club Information

Welcome to the Rotary Club of Oak Forest!!

Oak Forest

Service Above Self

Winter: Tuesdays at 12:15pm at Beggar's Pizza. 1st Tuesday of each month we meet at Beggar's at 6pm. Spring/Summer/Fall: Tuesdays at 12:15pm at Midlothian Country Club. 1st Tuesday of each month 6pm at Beggar's Pizza.
Beggar's Pizza
15600 S Cicero Ave
Oak Forest, IL  60452
United States of America
District Site
Venue Map
Home Page Stories
Looking for something exciting, while supporting an amazing cause?
Well, on Friday, January 18, 2019 (doors open 6:30pm) the Oak Forest Rotary Club will be hosting a Trivia Night at Chicago Gaelic Park to support our youth programs including "Backpack Food4Kids", student scholarships, youth exchange, Empower Leaders Scholarship Conference, and much more. 
Will you join us for all the fun, service, and fellowship?  Contact us for more information on how to join this great opportunity for fun, and to give back to our community.  See what we are up to...
Thanks to Sue Wolf, Bill Zerinskas and Joe Pilch for joining me to present 4-Way Test Awards to our local elementary and middle school winners over the past few weeks. 
The 4-Way Test is a primary foundation of Rotary.  It is used around the world in business, government, schools and homes as an effective ethics measuring stick.  The Test reads:
Of the things we think, say and do:
1. Is it the Truth? 
2. Is it fair to all concerned? 
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
The Oak Forest Rotary Club’s 4-Way Test Award program began in 1987.  The Club presents the Award every year to a boy and a girl from local elementary and middle schools.  The winners are recognized for demonstrating good behavior and exhibiting a strong moral character.  The medallion awards are presented to the students at their school’s awards assembly or graduation ceremony.
This year’s winners are: Nikki Gedrimas and Guiseppi Smith from Arbor Park Middle School; Justina Nieves and Nathan Barranca from Fierke Education Center; Emma Fudala and Parker Griffin from Lee R. Foster School; Megan Schoubye and Robert Sidler-Ortiz from Hille Middle School; Tehya Semens and JeSean Shannon from Kerkstra Elementary School; Donna Beltran and Noah Blakemore from Scarlet Oak School; Catherine Petit and Matthew Haro from St. Damian School.


JUNE 28, 2016
Representatives from the Oak Forest Rotary Club presented 4-Way Test Awards to a number of local students over the past few weeks. 
This year’s winners are: Jovita Johnson and Nicolas Aspan from Arbor Park Middle School; Cameron “Cami” Sinal and Zachary Ketza from Fierke Education Center; Melanie Ochal and Donovan Weekly from Lee R. Foster School; Christina Hanson and Douglas Racine from Hille Middle School; Mia Nutile and Chris List from Kerkstra Elementary School; Paige Kairis and Joseph McCarthy from Scarlet Oak School; Abigail Barker and John Cooke from St. Damian School.
For more than 30 years, the Rotary Club of Oak Forest has recognized outstanding graduating seniors with a $1000 scholarship award based on their social and civic involvement in our community.  Our criteria for selection is simple, Service Above Self or "what have you done for others in your high school career".  This year those Oak Forest Rotarians who participated in the final selection process were:   Sue Wolf, Bill Zerinskas, Jody Redmann, Susan Vanderwalker, Jim Pauley and myself.  The following graduating high school seniors were chosen to receive a $1000 scholarship from our Club:  Jenna Beardsley, Marley Majetic and Katherine Castillo.   A special thanks goes out to Rotarian Savka Mladenovich whose special assistance, from beginning to end, is also greatly appreciated.   Also thank you to those Rotarians who contributed their applicant assessments prior to the final interviews.  Please join me in giving a warm Rotary welcome to our scholarship recipients and their parents on May 24th.   
Jenna Beardsley              Katherine Castillo            Marley Majetic
On February 21st we hosted our 22nd Annual Free Pancake Breakfast and Blood Drive and it was an incredible success.
Over 600 Pancake Breakfasts were served thanks to our numerous volunteers, incredible performers and local citizens.  We also collected 58 pints of blood thanks to a great response from regular donors, breakfast attendees and publicity from local organizations.  For those that are not already familiar, 58 pints of blood can save up to 174 lives!!  We will be uploading numerous pictures from the event to our website soon, so please check them out. 
We sent out a detailed thank you letter last month to those involved, but for anyone that did not see it or would like anther copy just email me and I would be happy to forward it on.  Briefly though, I would like to mention some of this year's highlights.
 - Incredible performances by Legacy Dance Studio, OFHS Choir, Arbor Park Middle School's Beethoven's Arny,4th & 5th grade Choir from Kerkstra and Foster, the Jack Hille Middle School Jazz Band, and Pockets the Clown.  Dee De the Clown, Linda Baxter and Danielle Brown were amazing with all of the kids as well filling the crowd with painted faces and balloons.
 - The entire Rotary Club of Oak Forest, along with volunteers from other local clubs, had their hands in making this a huge success, some were even in the batter ;) 
 - Almost $600 in donations were made at the door and the OFHS Interact club raised $360 through their 50/50 raffle.
 - We unveiled out newly designed Club Brochure and it was met with great response from everyone that day.
Thank you again to everyone for making this event the best ever!

Do you know what RYLA is?  How about a Rylarian?

Each year thousands of young people worldwide take part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) programs.  These programs include camps, workshops, or seminars that provide an effective training experience for youth participants to develop their leadership, communication, and team-building skills.  Once they have completed the program they are referred to as a "Rylarian."
One such RYLA program was held October 9th-12th at Holiday Home Camp in Williams Bay, WI.  Our club was 1 of over 40 local clubs that participated, and together we sponsored 95 sophomore to senior level high school students from around the Chicago land area to attend the 4 day program.  They participated in various physically and mentally challenging tasks aimed at helping them learn more about themselves and others.
These two young ladies from Oak Forest High School were sponsored by our club and recently came to visit us to tell us about the amazing experience they had.  Amongst their many highlights included the "Reality Store" which is an exercise in which every student is asked what career and marital/parental status they will have when they are 25 years old. Then they are given real life paychecks and are required to buy everything from housing and insurance to groceries and day care.  They also enjoyed the numerous outdoor activities that could only be completed with the right amount of teamwork and trust in their groups.
It is an incredible 4 days that help them to think, learn, and act in new ways; and give them the confidence to take these new skills back to their homes, schools, and communities to share with others.
Please contact our club if you would like more information about RYLA or to be a volunteer with our many youth programs.

A couple weeks ago we had a visiting Rotarian Nick Cragg (Rotary District 1100 in England) join us for our weekly meeting.  He was accompanied by his partner Catrina Hares and close friend Sue Vanderwalker.  Although our time together was short, stories were shared, ideas were created, and fun was had by all. We even had the opportunity to exchange club banners, a long-standing tradition in Rotary.  It was a great reminder of the amazing Global community Rotary has created.  A community of over 1.2 million people all with the same mission... Service Above Self.   
Over the past few days we have been reminded of the terror that still exists around the world.  I just wanted to take this moment to share this photo of our banner exchange with Nick and remind everyone of the truly great works Rotary does all over the world, everyday! 
For those that are not familiar, Peace & Conflict Resolution is 1 of Rotary's 6 major Areas of Focus worldwide.  In fact, in just over a decade, the Rotary Peace Centers have trained more than 900 fellows for careers in peace building. Many of them go on to serve as leaders in national governments, NGOs, the military, law enforcement, and international organizations like the United Nations and World Bank.  So the next time someone asks What is Rotary? or What does Rotary do? you now have yet another answer.  Please see the attached link for more info on Rotary's Peace Fellowship Program 

Each year our club supports several programs both locally and around the world.  From local Youth Development programs like RYLA, Interact, and EarlyAct to International Disaster relief efforts via ShelterBox the Oak Forest Rotary is there.  How exactly do we accomplish so much?  Amazing members dedicated to putting their time and talents to work for the benefits of others and, oh yeah, fundraising.
We are currently in the midst of our Annual Cash Raffle that supports almost 90% of the projects we take on each year.  We have already sold 125 tickets in the past 2 weeks and are hoping to double this by the December 15th raffle date.  The prizes are significant and there are multiple chances to win.  So whether you're receiving this newsletter because you are a Rotary member or a "Friend of Rotary", please remember the great works we do and the funds needed to help make it happen.
If you need more tickets to sell or are looking to purchase a ticket yourself, please contact Rotarians Joe Pilch at 708-702-0006
or Dorothy Kennedy at 708-444-4378.
To all of our faithful followers...
As we do every year, our club will be sponsoring a Blood Drive at the Community Awareness Fair.  It will be at the Oak Forest High School from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  Please consider taking a few minutes this weekend to donate.  And if saving a life wasn't already enough, the t-shirt Heartland is providing to all donors is pretty awesome too. 
Walk-ins are welcome, but if you are short on time and would like to schedule your 15 minute slot ahead of time it is as easy as calling Jim Watson at 708-633-0101. If you would like to bring the family, the awareness fair is set to have around 100 vendors, live entertainment, plenty of give-aways, and Spiderman will be taking pictures from 11:00-1:00.  Be sure to stop by the Rotary table and say hello as well.
Thank you for all of your support!!!
As if serving others and changing the world wasn't already rewarding enough...
Rotary International recently rolled out a new Rewards program for it's 1.2 million members worldwide.  Members now have access to numerous discount programs good for various online shopping outlets, car rentals, entertainment venues, airlines, hotels, office supplies and more.  There are also offers that will donate a percentage of your purchase at popular retailers and merchants further supporting our efforts in the community and around the globe.
Click on the following link to be directed to the new Rotary Global Rewards page on rotary.org https://www.rotary.org/en/member-center/rotary-global-rewards  For anyone that needs help logging into their myrotary page please let me know.

Week after week, month after month we are dedicated to "Service Above Self".  So what do Rotarians do when they take a short break from changing the world?  Well, last month we took in a ballgame.

Thank you to fellow Rotarian Dr. Joe O'Donnell for organizing a wonderful evening at the Windy City Thunderbolts game.  It was a great evening and everyone had a fun time (despite the 9th inning loss).  We look forward to more events like this this year as it was great to have so many members and their families together just to enjoy the evening.

ImageImage  ImageImage

Recently our club had the privilege to have Jeff Ficaro from the Disabled Patriot Fund as our guest speaker.  I may not do their mission justice in this short message, but here goes.

During Jeff's short time with us, he relayed the organization's amazing undertakings and their utmost importance. The Disabled Patriot Fund provides financial assistance to disabled veterans and their families who have fought the Global War on Terror.  When men and women come back from service there can easily be a 12 to 18 month lag time (or even longer) from filing for disability assistance to actual receiving it.  I don't know about you, but I certainly can't wait the next 1 to 2 years before receiving my next paycheck.

Enter the Disabled Patriot Fund.  Individuals continue to turn to them for help during these difficult times and find assistance for a variety of needs.  Ramps, transportation, even money for food just to name just a few.  These men and women personally sacrifice so much to protect the Freedoms we enjoy every day and deserve our support.

The Rotary Club of Oak Forest is proud to say we made a $1,000 donation last month to this cause and hope that we can further help such an awesome organization by spreading their message.

To learn more about this organization or to support there cause please visit: http://www.disabledpatriotfund.com/

Remember asking your parents what something meant when you were a child?  Remember that ever so popular response?


For decades that was the response, now it's probably "Google it", but you get the idea.  Despite the ever advancing technology there are still some clubs around the world that take on "Dictionary Projects" where they hand out dictionaries to local 3rd graders.  Supporting Education is one of Rotary's 6 major areas of focus world wide.  the other 5 if you are wondering are: Promoting Peace/Conflict Resolution, Fighting Disease, Providing Clean Water, Maternal and Childhood Care, and Growing Local Economies.

Just a couple weeks ago our club had the opportunity to complete a dictionary project.  A special thanks to John Keane and Sue Wolf for volunteering to distribute over 200 dictionaries to 3rd grade students at Bernice Childs and John Gordon schools in the District 143.5 Posen/Robbins area. The students were happy and grateful to have these dictionaries to keep as their own.  the school administration was thankful for this assistance as well.



Several members from the Oak Forest Rotary Club presented 4-Way Test Awards to a number of local students over the past few weeks.  Thanks to Jason Riha, Sue Wolf, Dorothy Kennedy, Joe Pilch and Jim Pauly for your help.

The 4-Way Test is a primary foundation of Rotary.  It is used around the world in business, government, schools and homes as an effective ethics measuring stick.  The Test reads: Of the things we think, say and do: 1. Is it the Truth?  2. Is it fair to all concerned?  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

The Oak Forest Rotary Club’s 4-Way Test Award program began in 1987.  The Club presents the Award every year to a boy and a girl from local elementary and middle schools.  The winners are recognized for demonstrating good behavior and exhibiting a strong moral character.  The medallion awards are presented to the students at their school’s awards assembly or graduation ceremony.

This year’s winners are: Emma Koronkiewicz and Nicholas Jude from Arbor Park Middle School; Sarah Loeza and Robert Heidegger from Fierke Education Center; Amanda Hults and Evan Moss from Lee R. Foster School; Flynn Hartigan and Benjamin Nielsen from Hille Middle School; Tereza Progri and Ivan Corral from Kerkstra Elementary School; Valerie Krueger and Aidan Zeman from Scarlet Oak School; Peyton Nielsen and Brett Wiseman from St. Damian School.


It has come to my attention that our club site and bulletin has not been posting as many stories lately... and believe me when I say this is NOT because we are involved in less projects.  There are a few stories below from recent club events and programs so be sure to read to the end of the bulletin - THIS IS ALL NEW!!!  But before you move on I just wanted to take a moment to re-cap a successful 2014-15 Rotary year.  Amazing what a club of "only" 15 can do...

~ Organized 4 annual blood drives ~ awarded 2 local seniors with $1,000 college scholarships ~ awarded 4-way test awards to one boy and 1 girl in each school in our district ~ held our 21st annual Pancake breakfast (fed over 800 local residents) ~ volunteered for RYLA and sent one local student to the program as well ~ assisted our Interact Club with their senior dinner dance ~ distributed dictionaries to local 3rd graders at two schools ~ held a wine pairing to benefit the Treasure Chest Foundation ~ contributed to ShelterBox, Disabled Patriot Fund, Relay for Life, Tornado relief in Rochelle ~ and participated in a joint International effort to send medical supplies to a needed area in Brazil.

Thanks for you efforts and dedication!


Rotary Family -

Most of you have already seen footage of the disaster the F-4 tornado caused recently in towns like Rochelle, IL.  Since the storm, there has been an overwhelming donation of food, water, blankets, and clothing.  What residents need now as much as anything is financial assistance.  Numerous clubs throughout Illinois will be collecting monetary donations and gift cards to retailers such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Home Depot. 

Our club will be involved in this undertaking as well and will bring any collected money and gift cards to the District Conference next week.  Please let others know about our efforts.  Consider friends and family, coworkers, social media, etc to spread the word.  I will personally make some time next week before leaving for conference to pick up any contributions if you can't get them to me yourselves.

In Service Above Self

Congratulations to our 2015 Annual Scholarship awards winners Rebecca Howe, Amelia McDowell, and Abigail Simon.  Below are a few pictures of  our award winners receiving their scholarships from Past President Tom Halwax.

This year we actually received a few less applications than normal, but the talent was amongst the best we have seen.  Additionally, we received applications from a record setting number of schools including Oak Forest, Tinley Park, Providence, Marist, Carl Sandburg, and Marion Catholic.

For those of you that are not familiar with our scholarship program, this award is presented to intelligent, well rounded students based on their social and civic involvement in the community and exemplify Rotary's motto of "Service above Self."

Congratulations again to these incredible young ladies and good luck in all your future endeavors.



On Sunday February 8th we held our 21st Annual Pancake Breakfast and Blood Drive and it was, once again, a great success!

Over 600 Oak Forest residents were served a free Pancake breakfast and were treated to amazing entertainment.  The program included: "Mexico in my skin” under the direction of Maria Almazon, OFHS Jazz Ensemble directed by Mr. Nicholas Rojek and OFHS Choir Ensemble, directed by Mr. Victor Pazik.  Katie Painter the super, vocal music teacher at G. Kerkstra, and Lee R. Foster Schools, the choirs included more than 120+ students.   The Oak Forest Park District's "Momentum Dance Force" and Sparkler Cheer Teams" presented by Sara Byrnes, Katie Scheidt, Ramon Maybell.    The outstanding Jack Hille Middle School Jazz and Woodwind Ensembles were directed by Steve Nendza.

At the same time, 67 individuals registered to donate blood.  56 pints were collected in total and will be used to help save up to 168 lives!  Residents, Rotarians, City Officials and others all showed incredible support and made this a huge success.

The Oak Forest Interact Club assisted in several capacities and also ran a 50/50 raffle to help fund some of their projects for the year.  They collected $357 and were pleasantly surprised when the winner decided to donate back his half of the winnings!

The Club itself even collected $670 of cash donations at the door and had a Sponsor that help fray costs this year as well.  Thank you again Judge Automotive and Towing Inc.

As a "newer" Rotarian this was just the 2nd of the 21 Pancake Breakfasts I have had the pleasure to be a part of.  I personally find this program to involve the most Rotarians and be amongst one of the more fun and rewarding that we take part in each year.  Thank you to every for making it a great success!

Only a handful of pictures are shown below, but we will also be adding a photo album to our website with many more soon as well.  Lastly, if anyone would like a copy of the program or the thank you letter sent out please let me know and i would be happy to send it out.  I can be reached at bill@thorntonpowell.com


It's that time of year again.  The Rotary Club of Forest will be presenting up to three (3) $1,000 scholarships to outstanding, local High School Seniors again this year.  And despite applications being accepted as early as St Patrick's Day there is no luck involved in receiving one of these scholarships.  This award is presented to intelligent, well rounded students based on their social and civic involvement in the community and exemplify Rotary's motto of "Service above Self."

To qualify, applicants must either be graduating from a High school in 2015 and an Oak Forest resident, or be graduating from Oak Forest High School or Bremen High School (regardless of residency).  Applications are available on our club website www.oakforestrotary.org or can be requested from our program co-chair, Jason Riha at Jason.Riha@countryfinancial.com.  Applications are due by April 11 without exception.

So if you know anyone that fits this description and could use an extra $1,000 towards their higher education please let them know about our program.  Children of Oak Forest Rotarians are not eligible.

"Rotary gives us something good that we can all do together. With Rotary, we always have interesting things to talk about at dinner. We are all involved in different service, in different clubs, so when we sit down together, we are talking about humanitarian needs of every kind, in every part of the world. There is always something new to learn.  Our conversations are also a wonderful way to teach our children, through our own actions, what is really important in life. They learn about what life is like in different parts of the world, and how all of us have an obligation to help others when we can. I can think of no better lessons to teach our families than the lessons of Rotary service.
I hope that in this Rotary year, many of you will encourage your family members to join Rotary, Rotaract, or Interact. Bringing your family into Rotary doesn't just Light Up Rotary – it lights up your own lives as well.”
--Gary Huang, President, Rotary International

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Jody Redmann and Joe Pilch 

Jody Redmann

2018-2019 Club President/2017-2018 Rotarian of the Year

Joe Pilch

2018-2019 Club Secretary/Immediate Past Club President

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