Volunteers the Backbone of Ribfest

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Fowler Daily Herald Staff Writer

For most people, it's a day to spend relaxing with friends and family.

But for hundreds of volunteers at Naperville's Ribfest, the Fourth of July was a day to roll up their sleeves in the fight against child abuse and domestic violence.

"You get to meet a lot of people, and you just get to come out and see everyone here ... and support a good cause," said Jake Raymer of Naperville, who worked security with a group of volunteers from Community Christian Church in Naperville.

The annual four-day festival, which continues in Knoch Park through today, is sponsored by the Naperville Exchange Club to raise money for organizations in the community that work to prevent abuse.

Also, in Lisle, volunteers from community groups pitched in to raise money for their organizations at the Eyes to the Skies balloon festival, which goes through Sunday in Lisle Community Park.

At Ribfest, around 1,500 volunteers have helped out over the course of the weekend, said Margaret Johnson, manpower committee co-chairwoman.

"Without them, we couldn't have a festival," Johnson said. "They make the festival."

For Naperville resident Mary Berthold, making Ribfest happen is a family affair.

Her son Patrick Berthold, an Exchange Club member, is already gearing up to be the chairman of next year's event, and two of her grandchildren also are volunteering with her this year.

Mary said she doesn't mind putting in the long, hot hours to organize volunteers and lead cleanup crews because she has a good time and knows she's helping people.

"I'm a people person, and it's for the Exchange Club - and for my son," she said. "I just love working with other people.

"I don't know what drives me. I just love it."

Her granddaughter Jeni Berthold, who has volunteered the past four years, said she sees domestic violence and child abuse prevention as a compelling cause.

"I just do it because I want to help the kids out," she said. …