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Glancer Magazine

COVER STORY | 15 Most Charitable Women of the Year


Each of These Women Were Nominated by Our Readers for Their Love of Helping Others, Inspiring While Giving Back with Passion & Kindness

Tonya Harris, Geneva CLUBS TO CURE KIDS Tonya Harris was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of seven, so being involved in organizations that supported children with cancer was always an important one for her. Clubs to Cure Kids was created ten years ago to celebrate her 25th anniversary as a childhood leukemia survivor. A present to give forward. The Clubs to Cure Kids golf outing, now on its 8th event, has donated over $160,000 to support childhood cancer research and family support programs. “The day of the event is always so fun,” says Tonya. “I love being able to present a check to the doctor who treated me. It makes all the hard work worth it!” Besides her own events, she supports other organizations that work to help pediatric cancer patients including The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. Although she will always continue to support cancer research, she hopes to expand her scope to include the child and their families during their hospital stay. “The hospital can be a lonely place,” explains Tonya, “so I would like to do what I can to bring them a sense of comfort and normalcy.” –MK

Missy Donovan of Geneva MISSY DONOVAN PHOTOGRAPHY Missy uses her talent as a photographer to generously give back. “I love anything that has to do with children and recently did a photoshoot benefiting Gigi’s Playhouse, where I collaborated with Flair on 3rd,” she says. “I took photos of families, who donated what money they could to Gigi’s, and I then gave them the images from their shoot.” This is daily living for Missy who is mother to 7 children and 1 grandchild. She started her photography career by taking photos during her son’s sporting events, which developed into a lifestyle. Years later, she still donates her time back to the high school’s games, events, and ceremonies, as well as many other local organizations, such as Living Well Cancer Center. “My family has been affected by cancer too many times for me to count and I just want to give families a moment to celebrate life,” she says of photographing cancer patients at every stage. “It really puts things into perspective.” Missy’s big-heartedness also extends to CASA Kane County raising almost $20,000 spearheading two different fashion shows over the years. She believes in seizing the moment and capturing the essence of life in photographs. –KK

Holly Simon of Chicago I AM WHO I AM “I will roar louder than any lion - these children deserve it. It’s time for our world to change. We need acceptance, awareness, inclusion, friendships, understanding, kindness and love.” A powerful statement by Holly Simon, who founded “I Am Who I Am” after being inspired by an insensitive statement made after the birth of her son, Nate, who was born with Down Syndrome. “The doctors told me they were sorry,” Holly shares. “I immediately realized that no child should be born into the world with an ‘I’m sorry’.” Holly has five children (14 to 23 years old); she is a breast cancer survivor; the author of “I Am Who I Am” (; and spends 40 hours a week running the foundation and their new “I Am” bath and body products line created to give teens and adults with special abilities something to work at and to believe in. They currently sell soaps, bath bombs, lotions, lip balm and inspirational jewelry. Holly has created a job platform for all abilities, which also includes designing beautiful artwork and producing posters, holiday cards, and ornaments. ( Holly’s commitment is fueled by passion and the aspiration to create positive change. –KK

Adriana Francois of Aurora SIMPLY DESTINEE/ PEACEJAM/HOPE TAKES ACTION Giving all her free time to countless not-for-profit youth organizations, Adriana actively volunteers with the hope she can create a better future for local youth. Her family transferred from Panama to Chicago in 1988 and she understood first-hand how a community can make you feel alienated and unwanted, so she became active with PeaceJam Aurora, Hope Takes Action Aurora, and Simply Destinee. “I feel these organizations are tackling a lot of local issues, such as, poverty, the attack of middle class, and noncompetitive after-school activities; while also providing tools to grow for families that desperately need it,” Adriana says. She is passionate about helping the kids at Simply Destinee because they are fervent about tough topics like suicide, bullying and depression and use the art of dance to help kids ages 7 to 18 build confidence and self-esteem. Adriana volunteers nearly 30 hours a week maintaining a focus on education, tutoring kids and connecting them with scholarships for summer camps; meanwhile working to raise funds for building rent, so they can continue to provide free dance opportunities to area youths. With a never-ending positive spirit, Adriana works tirelessly to create a better life for the youth in her community. –KK

Danielle Tufano of Aurora CONTENT AND PROGRAM DIRECTOR AND MORNING CO-HOST, 95.9 THE RIVER Danielle’s work schedule allows her the flexibility to volunteer often. “I didn’t grow up with a lot of money or fancy things, but I did grow up surrounded by love,” Danielle says. “I think that it is important to show love to people that need it most and volunteering is one of the best ways to do that.” Danielle joined the Naperville Jaycees in 2013 because she sought to partner with an organization that made a large impact. Throughout her years, Danielle has served on the Board of Directors, the Last Fling Executive Committee, and led various committees, such as the Distinguished Service Awards, Food Giving, and Lobster Day. Beyond Jaycees, Danielle has immersed herself into an organization called Miss Amazing which hosts pageant-like events for females with disabilities. “These events give a platform for the girls to shine,” she shares. “This is a judgement free zone that allows these girls to build self-confidence and show how AMAZING they are.” Danielle’s acts of service also reach to “Game On” for Naperville Community Television, the American Cancer Society’s Fox Valley Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, and Dancing With the Celebrities for the Community Career Center! –KK

Crystal Krueger of South Elgin

SIMPLY CRYSTAL ELECTROLYSIS AND SKIN CARE When Crystal was in high school, she started to develop unwanted facial hair. Having no education or direction to follow, she looked into a more permanent solution for hair removal instead of continual waxing and tweezing. Inspired by her own journey, Crystal became a licensed Esthetician and Electrologist and opened her own business. She discovered that many women suffered from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which can leave them with excessive unwanted facial hair, weight gain, acne, and infertility. Knowing electrolysis is costly and the only proven method of permanent hair removal; Crystal decided to offer approximately $30,000/year in scholarship monies providing free treatments to selected women to help re-establish their self-esteem and confidence. Crystal is all about supporting women and their fight to feel beautiful. As the daughter of a breast cancer victim, she also created a Breast Cancer Awareness program at the all-boys Marmion Academy in Aurora and spearheaded fundraisers which accrued $30,000+ for The LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva, her favorite charity. Living out the essence of generosity daily, Crystal is demonstrating the art of selfless giving for her children, Brock and Brienna. –KK

Stacey Sutter of St. Charles CAL’S ANGELS In June of 2005, Stacey Sutter’s life was turned upside down when her stepson, Cal, then 12, was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Cal ultimately lost his battle with leukemia, but the courage he had throughout his treatments inspired the start of the Cal’s All-Star Angel Foundation, Inc.. Since their inception in 2007, Cal’s Angels has raised over 6.5 million dollars and helped thousands of families in the Chicagoland area. As President and Co-Founder of Cal’s Angels, Stacey spends her days honoring their mission of granting wishes, raising awareness and funding research to help kids fight cancer. More than just a spokesperson, Stacey is hands-on with the children and their families providing pizza parties at the hospitals, delivering comfort kits filled with goodies to make their stay more comfortable, and most importantly hugs! Remembering how difficult the Christmas holiday was for their family during Cal’s sickness, Stacey has created her favorite program, the 12 Days of Christmas. This program assists families with shopping for all the family’s children, wrapping and tagging gifts, delivering baked goods and a gingerbread house and a holiday meal gift card. She never forgets the siblings. “Pediatric cancer is not only a struggle for the sick child and their parents, but affects the siblings as well,” says Stacey. “It’s important to take care of the whole family.” –MK

Nettie Badgley of Yorkville 100+ WOMEN WHO CARE OSWEGO/MONTGOMERY/YORKVILLE (OMY) Starting with her first church work camp at just 3 years old, Nettie has always been a part of some type of philanthropic effort or group. A long-time Jaycee and Rotarian, she missed being a part of something, but after being blessed with children, simply did not have the time she had before to volunteer. Having been a part of the Naperville chapter of 100+ Women Who Care, Nettie could see the immediate impact this type of effort can make; hence, formed 100+ Women Who Care OMY in 2015 with just 11 members. To date, they have 58 members/teams who faithfully write $100 checks and have donated over $34,000 to local organizations. In the words of the first founder, Karen Dunigan, “The rules are simple, any member can present a need in the community, the need has to be immediate and the money has to remain local. The idea is that a worthy cause benefits many in the community.” With just four, one-hour meetings/year on the 2nd Monday of every February, April, September and November, Nettie loves sharing precious time with like-minded, kind-hearted women. Their ultimate goal is to reach 100+ members and present a $10,000 gift all at once to a deserving local organization! –KK

Becky Beilfuss of Glen Ellyn TEEN PARENT CONNECTION Long time Glen Ellyn resident, Becky Beilfuss was just sixteen when she became pregnant with her first child and became a teenage mother. “There was no shortage of people to tell me how I had ruined my life,” says Becky. “My goals have always been on proving them wrong.” She worked hard taking night classes, working part-time jobs and caring for her children to provide a solid home. One day, while skimming through the local newspaper, she stumbled upon an article about Teen Parent Connection and knew in an instant this was an organization she could put her whole heart into. The goal of Teen Parent Connection is to provide teenage parents in DuPage County with parenting education, support and resources to improve outcomes for both parent and child alike. In addition, the organization provides prevention education to more than 14,000 middle and high school students each year delivering a powerful message on the risks and responsibilities of adolescent pregnancy and parenting. Becky has worked and volunteered with Teen Parent Connection now for roughly 27 years, starting out facilitating peer led support groups then with the speaker’s bureau speaking to students about the realities of teenage pregnancy. As she grew with the organization, so did her role. She now serves as their Executive Director, constantly looking for ways to serve the teenage moms. –MK

Ondrea Weikum Grill of Naperville/Plainfield UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO COMER CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL To Ondrea, giving is its own reward no matter how cliché that sounds. She fully believes in doing what makes you happy as much as possible. “After all, we only get one go around at life, we might as well make it memorable,” she says after realizing this first hand when her brother lost his battle with cancer. He was a patient at Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago for 6 years. Once witnessing many sick children during the holidays, she wanted to do something special and began doing a toy drive 13 years ago. “I collect toys every year - they go directly to the Child Life Specialists Director who takes them to the gift room so they have toys for each boy/girl,” Ondrea says. “They get presents to help them through being in the hospital during the time where kids should be carefree and not concerned if Santa is going to be able to find them or not.” The toy drive has grown exponentially over the years and donations are surpassing $7000 each year in products and monetary contributions. Ondrea hopes to continue to grow and welcomes any interest in helping to email her at –KK

Jessi Harnish of Naperville ILLINOIS MISS AMAZING As a healthcare professional, Jessi Harnish is always looking for ways to give back. When she volunteered the first time at Illinois Miss Amazing, she fell in love with the organization and their mission. Miss Amazing, Inc. holds annual events on the state and national level for girls and women with disabilities to promote confidence in a supportive environment. Each event includes a talent show, interviews, and onstage introductions. Every participant is crowned a princess and six are selected as representatives to use Illinois Miss Amazing as a platform to raise awareness for girls and women with disabilities. After that day, Jessi wanted to take a more active role as the Illinois Director. Come this April she will have been Director for four years. Over the last 3 years, 130 girls and women with disabilities from across the state have participated, 300+ volunteers have given their time, and over 1,500 pounds of canned food have been collected and donated to local food pantries. “I love seeing the growth in a participant’s confidence,” says Jessi. “We hear countless stories that families saw a visible positive change in their daughter’s confidence from the event. This is the most rewarding part of what we do.” –MK

April Schipper of Montgomery CAMP OUT FROM CANCER April’s son, Isaac was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was just 5 years old. He went through brain surgery, 30 days of radiation, and nine rounds of chemotherapy over 15 months. Currently in remission, April feels very blessed by all the support they received and recognized she wanted to "Pay it Forward" by providing comfort for others who also were enduring similar circumstances. Knowing it was a scary time for her son, she wanted to give families something fun to do to help take their mind off of cancer; hence, Camp Out From Cancer was formed ( in 2013. “We are 100% volunteer-based and our care packages include: an indoor pop-up play tent, books, flashlight, glow bracelet, s'mores snack, reusable book bag, a Lego set, and socks that say "I Am Brave!", April says. “We have sent 800+ care packages to children with cancer. All of this is done in our basement and 90% of the care packages have been packed by Isaac and my daughter Ivy.” April finds solace in their organization. As a 1st grade teacher and busy mom, COFC is her therapy to keep her “cancer mom mind focused in a positive way”. –KK

Alta Goldstein of Naperville CHABAD JEWISH CENTER OF NAPERVILLE For the past twelve years, Alta Goldstein and her husband, Rabbi Mendy Goldstein have worked diligently to create a community that welcomes every Jewish person, regardless of their affiliations. The Chabad Jewish Center of Naperville is a non-profit organization that caters to every age and stage in the Jewish community. Alta provides many different services for the center. She ensures that Jewish education is provided in an engaging environment by overseeing and teaching at the Hebrew School, running the CTeen program and organizing events for Jewish families. She also mentors the women in the community with monthly Torah and Tea gatherings, provides individual support to congregants in need, and visits with local seniors in nursing homes. One of her most important roles is to extend love and kindness to the entire community by organizing events around the Jewish holidays and welcoming Jewish families into her home for Shabbat meals. She and her husband are working toward creating a bigger Chabad Center— including a synagogue, classrooms, a commercial kitchen where families can cook together before events, and a social hall for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs— where every Jew would feel welcome and included. Chabad of Naperville is entirely funded by local generous supporters, and they are always grateful for the donations and volunteers that help make Chabad what it is. –MK

Dr. Alvenia Rhea Albright of Naperville RHEA OF HOPE FOUNDATION Thirteen years ago, Dr. Alvenia Rhea Albright had a holiday party at her home and shared her vision for a foundation that would support underserved, at-risk girls, teens and young women. She asked her guests to join her in this work. That was the beginning of the Rhea of Hope Foundation. Today they work with multiple organizations, schools and community organizations to provide mentoring, coaching, academic support and programs to expose these underserved girls to a wide array of cultural, intellectual, spiritual, psychological and economic experiences. “I find the most fulfillment when working directly with our girls,” says Alvenia. “To witness the broad array of talent and their full potential is always uplifting and motivational.” The foundation has maintained the philosophy, “Changing One Life at a Time, One Day at a Time” and can proudly state they have affected close to 3,000 at-risk young women. Six years ago, they started their scholarship program and have provided $30,000 in scholarships to 33 recipients. Alvenia has recently published her first book, They Matter…Leadership Lessons from Everyday Heroes and Sheroes. It is a collection of stories and critical lessons that have impacted her life’s journey. The book can be purchased directly through All proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to Rhea of Hope’s future programs. –MK

Nicole Suchevits of Naperville 360 FIT STUDIO Nicole Suchevits of Naperville has found a unique way to giving back to her community. She owns 360 Fit Naperville, a fitness studio located on Washington Street that has become more than just a place to work out. “My goal was to open a studio that would be part of the surrounding community to help foster connections,” says Nicole. “What evolved was so much greater and rewarding than I ever expected.” 360 Fit has hosted several fundraisers for various charities that offered group fitness classes where instructors donate their time and people pay for classes. All of the proceeds from each event went to the respective charity. Along with these large fundraiser events, Nicole discounts monthly memberships to local school district employees, hosts free yoga classes for Veterans of War and post-marathon, half-marathon and triathlon participants, hosts girl scout troops earning their Fitness Badge, and donated to many local organizations and schools fundraising programs. “It didn’t take long to discover that even a small local business could make a positive difference,” states Nicole. “I’m thrilled that 360 Fit is more than just a work out facility. 360 Fit is a community!” –MK