Friends of Our Families Metropolitan Family Services DuPage Honors 6 People, 2 Organizations with Annual Awards

Article excerpt

Byline: M.J. Porter Daily Herald Staff Writer

Six distinguished DuPage County residents and two organizations have been honored for acting on their deep feelings for local families.

Metropolitan Family Services DuPage in Wheaton is giving them the 1999 Gold LEAF awards, for Leadership and Excellence in Advocating for Families.

The eight honorees were selected from a pool of 32 nominees, all recognized for their extraordinary commitment to families. Their voluntary efforts enhanced Metropolitan Family Services' mission to "provide and mobilize services to strengthen families and communities."

They will be honored during the 1999 Gold LEAF awards dinner on May 13 at the Medinah Country Club. Former DePaul University basketball coach Ray Meyer will be the guest speaker.

Becky Beilfuss, Glen Ellyn

Beilfuss, 36, was nominated by her boss, Janet Bornancin, for her work as program director at Healthy Families DuPage over the past five years. Bornancin's gesture made the nomination in the Community Service Professional category an even greater honor for Beilfuss.

"(The nomination) means so much in my heart that I can't even find words," Beilfuss said. "Especially to have my boss nominate me."

Beilfuss is in her third year as director of the program, which provides home-based support to teenage parents in DuPage. She said she thinks she was nominated because she puts in a lot of hours, maybe 50 to 60 a week.

"Sometimes I even dream about it," she said.

She's motivated to work so hard because she was a teen mother herself 20 years ago. Her four children are now ages 20 to 7.

"I think my dedication and commitment, my life experience and education are my greatest contribution to families in DuPage County," she said. "I was a teenage parent. That definitely makes me committed. The young families I work with are my inspiration. I see so many young women out there working, trying to go to school and improve themselves. I work for them."

Barbara Smith, Lombard

While Barbara Smith of Lombard may be receiving the Gold LEAF Religion Award, she feels that all her co-workers deserve one too.

"I couldn't do anything by myself," said Smith, who volunteers as the president of the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church's Missionary Society in Lisle. "I worked with a group of missionaries, and together we developed programs."

Smith's leadership, along with help from fellow workers, developed food, tutoring and mentoring programs for children and families. A health ministry and a scholarship program also were developed by Smith.

"We help emotionally support the sick and bereaved. The health ministry and awareness program highlight issues to stay well and avoid illness," she said.

Despite all her hard work, she said being honored with the award was a surprise.

"It was good and humbling," Smith said. "It is encouraging and makes us go on and go forward to other areas and expand our outreach."

James D. Anderson, Wheaton

For 33 years, James D. Anderson of Wheaton has been administrator and president of Central DuPage Hospital. He also founded the Central DuPage Health System in Winfield.

"So many of the things deal with birth, death and health - the full life span that each of us goes through," he said. "We reach out to those that have funds and those that don't to provide the very best care for everyone."

The Gold LEAF Health Award winner is a major proponent of family as the key to society, and his volunteer record shows that: seven years on the board of Outreach Community Ministries, six years on the board for Deicke Eye Center, 35 years with the Wheaton Lions Club and 15 years as superintendent of Sunday school at Evangelical Free Church of Wheaton.

He's also involved with the new family court system for DuPage County, and he served on the Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 business advisory board. …