In the name of generosity, Kathy Cregan defies the one lesson taught every child – riding with strangers is not safe.
Her grandchildren reminded Cregan of that lesson after she stopped while driving them to school in Marengo. Cregan picked up a stranger, who was walking in cold and windy conditions, and dropped her off at her work at a nearby McDonald’s.
“I wouldn’t want to be working at McDonald’s and have to walk to work every day,” said Cregan, who had seen the woman before, near her daughter’s subdivision. “Put yourself in their shoes. That’s the best way to do it.”
As family close to Cregan will say, she has walked miles in other people’s shoes since growing up as the oldest of eight siblings.
She moved to Marengo seven years ago to help her daughter, Jeannie Klaassens, care for her children.
She has donated time to Turning Point of McHenry County, volunteered at DuPage County PADS, and recently started working at Visiting Angels in Crystal Lake as a caregiver.
If she’s not caregiving, Cregan tries to donate a few days a month at the Marengo area OutReach Enterprises (M.O.R.E.) Center and assist the food pantry’s patrons with their groceries.
She said she even makes time to donate blood at LifeSource in Crystal Lake because she was “born with a high platelet count, so it’s nothing.”
In between the volunteering, Cregan still finds herself giving random rides to people who seem to need the extra assistance.
“Of course, I feel good about volunteering. That’s the benefit of it, but that’s not the reason why I do it,” Cregan said. “I do it because everybody needs a friend.”
Cregan’s willingness to help others without wanting anything in return is why Klaassens nominated her mother as an Everyday Hero.
Klaassens said her mom has always set a great example for her and her brother, both of whom Cregan raised on her own.
“Not only is she my hero, I know she has influenced so many other lives,” Klaassens said. “She has a kind heart. When she sees someone in need, she takes the extra time to introduce herself and listen to their needs.”
Raised in Bellwood, Cregan as a mother would work nights to stay at the house with her children during the daytime. Even then she would bring her children on rides to help deliver meals on wheels for the DuPage County PADS.
Before moving to Marengo, Cregan worked at AT&T for 21 years doing work with fiber optics.
But volunteerism is Cregan’s passion and something, she said, she plans on doing well into the future.
“It’s always been my dream to volunteer, and I have been lucky enough to do that,” Cregan said. “A lot of people can’t do that. The best thing to do for the poor is not to be poor.”