Home and Lifestyle

The Gentle Perfectionist

10th Anniversary of the Community Harvest helps bring in food for pantry

McHenry County Magazine

As the skies turn cool and the air crisp, Judy Pelinski turns her attention to her annual goal: Filling the local food pantry shelves.

Pelinski is the chairwoman of the annual Community Harvest, collecting and packing food for the Crystal Lake Food Pantry. This year marks the 10th year Pelinski has coordinated the large community event.

“It’s grown tremendously,” Pelinski says.

Last year the Community Harvest collected 60,000 pounds of food. More than 1,200 volunteers showed up on Thanksgiving morning to sort and pack the food. She jokes that the morning is organized chaos, with each volunteer assigned a task. The sorting and packing is complete in less than three hours.

“It’s a family event, with people bringing their babies, toddlers too,” Pelinski says. “It gives people a purpose to the special day. They end up thanking us for giving them a purpose.”
Once again, this year’s staging and collection center will be at 6250 Northwest Hwy.
Pelinski says she’s grateful to have the same location, as it is hard to create logistics and spread the word if the location changes year after year. For the future, she hopes for a consistent location for the Community Harvest.

Pelinski was tapped to lead the program through her work with the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. She has previously served as a member of the chamber’s board, along with John Peltz of ServiceMaster by Peltz. He and other members noticed Pelinski’s leadership and people skills.

“She’s a gentle perfectionist,” Peltz says. “She knows how to make everything perfect, or close to it.”

Pelinski’s skills and keen sense of style were essential to starting her own business 14 years ago. Her business, Fresh Look Interiors, began after she realized her interests in home renovation and styling were more than a hobby. Pelinski says she loves helping clients style their homes, finding them a fresh look, shopping for accents or furniture and even helping realtors and those selling a home to better stage their property. Pelinski says a well-staged home on the real estate market can make a difference.

“A well-staged home, priced correctly, will sell to the first couple buyers,” Pelinski says. “And we’re starting to see bidding wars again.”

Ten years ago she formed her second business venture, Staging & Redesign Academy. Whether she is mentoring a new designer, helping a realtor or working with a client, Pelinski is happy to share her advice on how to make a fresh look in a home. She enjoys shopping with her clients, helping to teach the most indecisive of them how to select paints, accent pieces and furniture.

“You don’t need a huge budget to make your home look beautiful,” Pelinski says.

When it comes to her own home, Pelinski says she and her husband, Bill Pelinski Jr., are happy in their Lake in the Hills home and with their neighborhood filled with friendly faces. Pelinski says it can take her hours to complete a walk around the neighborhood as she stops to chat with neighbors.

“We have the best neighbors,” she says. “And I love the open space. I love being in the back yard and being able to enjoy nature.”

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