january nominee

Dennis Shea

When Lincoln Park resident Dennis Shea retired from a lengthy career in sales and management with Hershey Foods, he knew he needed more than golf clubs to get him through his retirement years. He needed to do something that mattered. Shea had volunteered with organizations like Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and the Lions Club, and he had been in leadership positions on boards, but he was interested in working one-on-one with people.

He researched nonprofits in the area and joined Aspire, an innovative nonprofit that is redefining what is possible for people with disabilities, where he has been volunteering for 3.5 years.

“Retirement gave me a new freedom with time to do whatever I wanted,” said Shea, who volunteers at Aspire’s Community Employment Services (CES) site located in Bellwood. “But I felt an overwhelming sense that I wanted to do something to make a difference with individuals.”

One look at the faces of the participants at Aspire with whom he works with on Thursday mornings, and it’s clear that Dennis is right where he belongs. Shea spends his time working with adults with disabilities (such as Down Syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy) who come to Aspire to learn or strengthen career-building skills, social skills, communication, and also enjoy leisure activities.

Shea was inspired by his nephew, who has a disability similar to participants at Aspire. “Folks at Aspire are super nice people. Although they may have disabilities, they are making the most of their lives. They all have goals, from using money to take the bus to learning how to email, and I help them move toward achieveing their goals. The best thing that can happen is that they get a job in the community, and I hope that I can help them do that.

About Aspire: Aspire is recognized as a leader in providing bold, pioneering and uncompromising services to kids and adults with developmental disabilities, their families and the Chicagoland community through four enterprises: Aspire Kids, Aspire Living, Aspire Careers and Aspire Coffee-Works. Aspire has been pushing the boundaries of what is possible for people with disabilities since 1960. For more information about Aspire or volunteer opportunities, contact Adam Harold, Volunteer Coordinator, at 708.547.3550 x 3554 or [email protected]

january spotlight

When Lincoln Park resident Dennis Shea retired from a lengthy career in sales and management with Hershey Foods, he knew he needed more than golf clubs to get him through retirement…read more

january spotlight

When Lincoln Park resident Dennis Shea retired from a lengthy career in sales and management with Hershey Foods, he knew he needed more than golf clubs to get him through retirement…read more

july spotlight

Gabriella Frank, an incoming seventh grader, started a program called “Books by the Beach” to help collect books and school supplies and donate them to less fortunate…read more

february spotlight

Remember grade school recess? It can be tough for some kids and a breeding ground for bullying. Four 4th graders from Lincolnwood School District decided “Buddy Benches” were one way to help…read more

may spotlight

Amanda Martinsen is a 5th grade teacher who designed and implemented a school-wide project where students to learn about physical and emotional conditions of disabled children…read more

august spotlight

Mrs. Tamara Polakowski, a 1st grade teacher at Madison Elementary in Lombard, goes above the call of a teacher’s duty by education outside of a textbook…read more

march spotlight

Imagine hearing the words “Down syndrome” as a new parent. Where would you turn? Bill and Dawn Buckley of Dyer, Indiana turned to the Down Syndrome Association of Northwest Indiana…read more

june spotlight

Gayla Smith is a military mom of two members of the United States Navy. Each year her and her husband host a backyard BBQ to simply raise money for Building for America’s Bravest…read more

september spotlight

When Cathleen Aquino isn’t working as a NICU nurse, she volunteers with Children’s Oncology Services improving the life of children diagnosed with cancer…read more

rewarding great individuals

Each month, meatheads will select one person who exemplifies the company’s standards of determination, hustle & hard work. If you know someone who demonstrate the meatheads values, please let us know!

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