In late 2020 I was called by a gentleman named Sam Zito who works for Shaw Media, and him and his team were looking to hire me to capture photos for an annual feature they publish in the Northwest Herald, which was called Everyday Hero’s. This feature is produced with The Community Foundation of McHenry County. It was something new to me when he talked about it but is something they have been hosting for many years. When COVID was not in play, they would also host a breakfast for the individuals selected, but this year, they are hosting an online video to honor the ones who were selected. Outside of this, they looked to me to meet each one of them and grab a headshot which they used to publish online and in a printed article.
When I first spoke with Sam, he told me they had about 200 submissions from family, friends and community members and from this list they dropped it down to 15 individuals and 2 community groups. I got in touch and met up with 14 of them.
After sending out my congratulation email blast and giving them a bit of info on me and what I was doing for them, I set up 3 days for all of them to be available and have me come grab their photos. I was lucky enough to make all of their schedule’s work with mine, strategically, so that I was not driving from McHenry to Woodstock, To Crystal Lake and back, and was able to get a good schedule down to start from point A to point B to complete the task.
I loved meeting each person selected and finding out more about what they did, why they were chosen and if they knew who nominated them. Paul Ingallinera of Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School, has been helping his community for years, but what stood out to me the most was the work he does helping stop and aid in eliminated human sex trafficking, a big topic we have seen more and more of over the last few years. He told me he was nominated by his son who wrote a few pages about him and it was sweet to hear how much his son valued and looks up to him! Another great store was from Isabelle (“lee”) Linklater who talked to me about how she was the starter of the first no kill shelter here in McHenry County. With my love for animals, she stuck out to me and I really enjoyed capturing her photos. I could tell she had an amazing personality and was a light to many lives. We even had a few laughs about other ways she planned to use for her photo outside of this article. Geri Quirk-Blanken, store manager at the McHenry Home Depot, was another one who stood out, one because I have seen her attend many McHenry County events that I have photographed her in the past and two I got the opportunity to chat with her more about her involvement with so much that goes on here in the community, one being help improve homes and the lives of veterans, non-profit organizations and communities. Outside of these three, each one of them left a lasting impression on me and it meant a lot to have the opportunity to speak with each and say I got to meet them in my lifetime. I could see why they were all nominated and selected, and they deserve another huge THANK YOU for everything they do around our community!
Real Hero’s don’t live in comic books, they live in our neighborhoods.