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2014 Honor & Hope Gala

The Chicagoland Italian American Charitable Organization will present local CPA and longtime member Kenneth Kolnicki with the Dominic Saverino Humanitarian of the Year Award at this year’s Honor and Hope Gala.

CIACO will present 15 students with $2,000 scholarships at the event, continuing a 27-year tradition that has bestowed more than half a million dollars of financial aid upon college-bound seniors.

Donations also will be made to a wounded veteran and the family of a severely disabled young man, as well as Serenity House in Addison, which provides residential and outpatient treatment services to adults recovering from substance abuse and chemical dependence.

The event will take place on May 10 at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison. (630-400-9908)

Kenneth Kolnicki

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Everyone knows accountants are boring. They’re numbers guys–devoid of any sense of humor, dry, dull, and, did we say, boring? Our Humanitarian of the Year, Ken Kolnicki, is exactly NOT that.

To know Ken is to know someone who is fun loving, outgoing and full of life. But Ken can also be tough when that’s what’s required. He will take on all challenges with a gusto that typically ends with success. He’s engaging and giving. He gives not only financially, but he also gives his time, effort and expertise.

The son of John and Antoinette (Gondolfo) Kolnicki, Ken grew up near Taylor and Western. He graduated from Austin High in 1966 and the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1970. He’s been a certified public accountant for more than 40 years.

He and his wife, Pam, have six children (Mike, Kris, Karyn, Kailey, Karsen and Joey) and three grandchildren (Kamryn, Taylor and McKenzie).

Ken was one of the early members and served on the board of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame’s Chicago branch, which became CIACO. He also serves as president of the IANU Foundation, the Midwest District of Italian Sons and Daughters of America. Previously he was on the boards of Casa Italia, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans and various other charitable organizations.

Professionally, he is the senior partner of Kolnicki, Petersen and Wirth (CPAs) and an investment counselor with Cetera Financial (formerly Genworth/GE Financial). He has served on the National Council of Mutual Fund Companies.

One of Ken’s recent challenges came when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. Again, Ken didn’t back down, and by supporting her, they battled through the ordeal. Today she is cancer free, and with Ken being honored, they can celebrate a life that has never been boring.

The heroic Herions

If a picture is worth a thousand words, we could stop writing now. To see Calvin Herion is to know all you need to know. And yet there is more.

Calvin’s dad, Brock, is a battalion chief with the Addison Fire Department. When the alarm goes off, he runs INTO the burning building. Need we say more? Then there’s his mom, Amy, who does some part-time accounting and volunteers at the school that the youngest Herion attends. Did we mention Calvin’s siblings? There’s older brother BJ, younger bro Beau and sister Genevieve.

CIACO took one look at this family and made the decision to help. We wish we could do more. Our $10,000 contribution can be used to get the wheelchair that Calvin needs, or help with any of the many expenses they have. But even as you step up to help, you still feel helpless. You want to give that family some joy. You want to take away some of the pain. You want to give that innocent but courageous boy a chance to run and play. But you can’t. So you do what you can. You help however you think it will matter the most. You keep him and his family in your prayers. And you admire them for their heroic lives.

Place of Serenity

This year, we’re adding Serenity House in Addison to our long list of worthy causes.

The mission and purpose of Serenity House is to provide comprehensive residential and outpatient treatment services to indigent and low-income adult men and women recovering from substance abuse and chemical dependence. These services are voluntary and focused on helping clients become self-sufficient so they can return to their communities. Individuals who participate in these services are provided with the necessary skills to rebuild their lives, reunite with their families, and strengthen relationships. Serenity House responds to the complex needs of these men and women regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, HIV status, or ability to pay.

Since 1985, Serenity House has expanded both its capacity and services to meet the growing need for substance abuse treatment in DuPage County. What began as a four-bed cottage located in Addison, Illinois, Serenity House has grown to become a 107-bed addiction treatment facility with 34 men and 13 women in the Extended Residential Care Program, 34 men and 26 women in the Recovery Home programs, and over 200 clients weekly in the Outpatient Programs.

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.