Press Release - Darien's 2020 Citizen of the Year

1/23/2020 | Posted in: News
A Chinese proverb reads “Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget” … As the 2020 Citizen of the Year Committee read this submitted nomination, this proverb radiates the feelings of the committee of the whole Therefore, it is with great pride that the Citizen of the Year Committee submits to the Darien’s City Council the name of:

Aleta Peknik
as our choice for the 2020 Citizen of the Year

       When asked if she would accept the nomination, she noted how humbled she was to be part of Darien’s legacy.  Aleta has a long history in Darien and surrounding communities. Aleta and husband Tom have been married for 50 years and have been Darien residence since 1974.  They are proud parents of Leslie, a resident of Downers Grove and Melissa, along with her husband Mike and granddaughters, Danielle, Kellie and Taylor are residents of Darien. 

       Since 1974, Aleta has been deeply involved in their parish, Our Lady of Peace.  Since 2006, Aleta has served as the Bereavement Minister helping families grieving the loss of a loved who has passed away.  She has the responsibility of planning the funeral services and masses.  Aleta has planned over 80 funerals working with families through a painful and difficult time.  Her grace, compassion and love are a lasting connection with families she has assisted.  She is a greeter at every 10:30 am mass.  For over 10 years, she has been a member of the Divine Mercy Cenicle at Our Lady of Peace.  She also serves as a Eucharistic Minister, Lector and on other church committees as needed. 

       Aleta serves on the No One Dies Alone Team at Hinsdale and LaGrange Hospitals, again providing a compassionate and caring presence for the terminally ill patients in Hospice care.  She is a currently is a member of School District 61 Citizen’s Advisory Committee; since 2003, a member of the Darien Historical Society; since 2004 Younger than Ever Senior Club and in the past, the Darien’s Woman’s Club where she chaired the committees of finance, home life, conservation and community improvement project.  
 
       A member of the Darien’s Environmental Committee since 2008, Aleta attends regularly the Argonne Round Table meetings that includes updates on Argonne projects and nuclear waste disposal.  She was recently appointed to the City’s Home Decorating Committee and in October 2019 received the distinguished City’s Heart of Darien Award. 

       From 1981 to 1989, Aleta served as a teacher’s aide in the physically handicapped classrooms at the then Concord school in Darien.  In 1989, she graduated from Elmhurst College with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  In 1990 she was hired by Charles J. Sahs Elementary School in Central Stickney as a teacher in the gifted program for 2nd and 5th graders.  In 1994, Aleta earned the Endorsement in the Gifted Program from National-Louis University.  She graduated from the of Purdue University’s teacher facilitator’s program in order for the Sahs’ 8th grade students to participate in a simulation space mission program called “Rendezvous with a Comet” at their West Lafayette campus.  While at Sahs, Aleta was an initiator and facilitator for the following after school programs – Star Reading Program, Solar Car Project (in conjunction with Argonne National Laboratory) and assisted as a curriculum developer for a summer program on Landfill Design and Engineering again with Argonne.  In 1995, she was honored with the “Distinguished Recognition Award” from President Clinton for her project work with students in the landfill environment program.  In 1997, Sahs School recognized her with the Heart of Sahs Teaching Award.  Aleta retired in 2004 from Sahs but continues to serve as a substitute teacher at the school. 

       Asked what she does in her “free” time, she quickly responses... “I am diligent in walking 2 miles a day on my treadmill.”  A nominator states: 
My Grandmother puts her heart and soul into everything she does.  She has made a big difference in so many lives that she has come in contact with, with her positive and compassionate attitude.” 
 
Aleta noted to the Committee this honor is a legacy in her life…
Indeed she is and will always be a legacy in the City of Darien.  
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