The obstacles standing in Wendy Hoover’s way seemed insurmountable.
Hoover became a firefighter and paramedic at a time when women in the field were few and far between. She attended classes as a single mother.
“When she got into the fire service, she was a single mom and she had to make a lot of sacrifices,” said her husband, Bill Hoover.
But one department took a chance on Wendy and she became the first full-time female firefighter and paramedic at the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District. She now has the rank of lieutenant.
“Because I’m not a big, burly girl, [some departments] didn’t take me seriously,” Wendy Hoover said of some of the departments to which she first applied.
Bill, also a firefighter but with a different department, is smitten with his wife after five years of marriage. Bill Hoover nominated his bride as an Everyday Hero.
The pair met through their department’s inner circles. They crossed paths at the Algonquin- Lake in the Hills Fire Department, but it wasn’t until years later when a romance blossomed.
“[I love] her energy and the fact that she is just one of those good people that you rarely find anymore,” Bill Hoover said. “The person who sees somebody in trouble and she is going to stop and help. The person who would give you the shirt off her back. “
Combined, Bill and Wendy Hoover have six children ranging in age from 10 to 27 years old. Mix in Wendy’s mother and a rowdy dog, and you have the Hoover household.
“It’s phenomenal just how giving of a person she is,” Bill Hoover said.
But it’s not just Wendy’s chosen career that makes her an Everyday Hero. She also spearheaded a senior citizens group in Port Barrington. Wendy Hoover coordinates the group’s outings, and plans events for members’ bimonthly meetings.
“The village has tried so hard to get something going for the seniors, and Wendy picked up the ball and ran with it,” said Donna Erfort, Port Barrington treasurer and administrator.
“It doesn’t matter if one person shows up, or if 10 people show up, she’s adamant about keeping it going. She’s dragged people out who I’ve never seen before.”
Hoover also sponsors two children, one in Uganda and another in Colombia. She financially supports a prisoner rehabilitation program and donates money to an inmate’s education and drug and alcohol treatments so the inmate has a fair shot at life once released.
“These are human acts of kindness that mean so much to the community,” Erfort said.
The Lt. Wendy Hoover lowdown
Occupation: Firefighter and paramedic with the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District. She was the department’s first full-time woman.
Church: The Chapel in Grayslake and Willow Creek in Crystal Lake.
Family: Wendy and husband, Bill, have a blended family of six children. Hoover’s mother, Dorothy Gomoll also lives with them.
Other involvements: She spearheaded a senior citizens group in Port Barrington when Gomoll moved in with them in 2008.