Al Skwarczynski was named Minooka's Volunteer of the Year. He was presented with the award at the opening ceremonies of Minooka Summerfest.
Skwarczynski may be familiar to many people in not only the Channahon and Minooka area, but in Joliet as well. He spent the past 16 years of his career as a school principal, and retired from Taft School in Joliet in 2005. He even had a park named for him.
The Volunteer of the Year committee accepts nominations from anyone in the area, including business leaders, churches, volunteer organizations and even residents, said committee chair Marc Hirschman.
Although the Lions Club sponsors the award, the nominee doesn't have to come from the club.
"It's someone they feel is an outstanding member of the community," Hirschman said.
Skwarczynski was an easy choice once he was nominated.
As a member of the Minooka Lions Club, he served as a president and treasurer (12 years) and still sits on the board of directors. He is also the liaison between the Lions Club and Minooka parks committee. He is a member of the American Legion.
Skwarczynski is on the Minooka Elementary School District 201 school board, a position he's held for seven years. He also serves on the planning commission for Grundy County and as a fire commissioner for the Minooka Fire Department.
In the past, he's been a coach for Little League baseball and soccer as well as a Boy Scout leader.
Despite a long list of contributions to the community, Skwarczynski believes there are dozens of people just as deserving of the award in and around Minooka.
"That's why Minooka is so good, as is Channahon," he said. "People put in the time to make the communities a better place."
One thing Skwarczynski is especially proud of is serving as a co-chair for the Scholastic Awards dinner at Minooka High School each year.
The top 25 graduates and their families are invited to the recognition dinner and presentation of all of their activities and achievements.
"What I really enjoy is the kids, they are great. We have a lot of talent in this community," he said.
Skwarczynski encourages the students to return to Minooka and Channahon to live and work after they graduate college. And to join the Lions Club, whether it's here or in some other town.
"These kids are involved in a lot of activities already. It's good for their future," he said. "They are our future."
• Kris Stadalsky writes about people and issues in areas southwest of Joliet. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.