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Oliver: Do you know an Everyday Hero to recognize?

Actions speak louder than words, or so the saying goes.

Some of the “loudest” actions come from those who would never dream of calling attention to themselves.

They are the ones who quietly go about the business of helping others. They are the behind-the-scenes volunteers who make organizations work.

They are the ones who through determination and hard work overcome obstacles and inspire everyone they meet.

They are the ones who routinely put others before themselves, using their time and resources to help their neighbors and sometimes even those in need in faraway lands.

What they have in common is that they make a difference.

They are our community’s everyday heroes.

We know they exist and we’d like your help to identify them.

Last year, we asked you to nominate people you felt were worthy of recognition.

The response was so great that we couldn’t include everyone in last year’s special section, aptly called “Everyday Heroes.”

So we decided to do it again. This year’s section is scheduled to be published in print and online on Feb. 23.

In the meantime, we’d like to hear from you.

At NWHerald.com, you’ll find a nomination form, or you can find one on page B3 of today’s paper.

In 250 words or fewer, let us know why your nominee deserves recognition. Your response doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just give us an idea of why your nominee is an Everyday Hero.

The nominee must live or work in McHenry County, and can be of any age.

I was truly touched and inspired by all of the wonderful people we interviewed last year.

Take for example Betty Cleveland, also known as “Nurse Betty” at the Family Health Partnership Clinic.

Cleveland helps out two to three times a week at the clinic, which relies on volunteers and donations to provide health care to about 800 uninsured patients a month.

A nurse for more than 30 years, Cleveland began volunteering at the clinic a couple of years after retiring. Her compassionate care has brought the gratitude of those she has helped, as well as of the doctors who volunteer alongside her.

And then there was Joe Blanco, who ran an emergency PADS shelter site. He also sang with two barbershop quartet groups that visited hospitals and area nursing homes.

He was instrumental in founding Principled Minds, volunteered with Faith in Action and served as the chief of transportation for the Care 4 Breast Cancer Race to benefit the Family Health Partnership Clinic.

In other words, Blanco was a supervolunteer.

Sadly, Blanco died in December, just a few weeks before our special section was published.

But his inspiring story of volunteering and the example he set were so compelling that we decided to share it as a way to honor his legacy.

I look forward to learning about this year’s group of Everyday Heroes. I expect that I will be inspired and grateful at all the ways they are making McHenry County a better place to be.

And I’m sure you will be, too.

• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at joliver@shawmedia.com.

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