Recipient of Kenneth Hood Award

Posted on 08/07/2018

Kathy Kasprowicz is named the 11th recipient of the Kenneth Hood Senior Service Award, which is given out annually by the Village’s Senior Citizens Commission. The Commission announced the award honoree on July 31, which would have been Ken Hood’s 111th birthday. Ms. Kasprowicz will be presented with the award at the Village Board of Trustees meeting on August 20. 

In 2006, a local service provider released their senior transportation program.  Kathy Kasprowicz, having been their staff coordinator, knew the program was too important to senior citizens and had to continue.  Ms. Kasprowicz and friend/mentor Marie Payes explored the possibility of local sponsors, including churches.  Unable to find a sponsor after several months, it became obvious that this little transportation program would have to become its own stand-alone 501 (C) (3) nonprofit organization.

Escorted Transportation Service Northwest’s mission is to provide transportation with compassion and companionship.   The program is so important, the simple concept so good and Kathy Kasprowicz’ faith so unshaken that she could help make this could happen convinced others to help drive this along. Influential community members were recruited, seed money came in, an inaugural Board of Directors coalesced and Escorted Transportation Service Northwest became a reality on the Kasprowicz’ kitchen table on September 1, 2006.

Within the first four months, 400 round trip rides had been provided   By early 2007, the first Board of Directors meeting took place, officers were elected and committees formed.   The Village of Arlington Heights extended an offer of office space at the Arlington Heights Senior Center and ETS moved to its new home, the perfect place to grow this senior service program.  Grant money came from several directions, including the prestigious Retirement Research Foundation.

ETS Northwest experienced meteoric success.   By the end of 2007, 1861 round trip rides had been provided. To date, ETS has provided 28,869 rides in its twelve years.  The average age of the 708 ETS Northwest passengers is 85.4 years old, while the oldest ETS passenger is 107.  A handful of passengers used to be volunteer drivers and in one instance, a volunteer driver used to be a passenger.

Eighty-nine volunteer drivers use their own cars to transport ETS Northwest’s senior passengers.  They pick up the client, wait with them, and bring them back home. These clients are ambulatory, over age 60 and must be able to transfer themselves in and out of a car unaided. The clients must reside in the organization’s 160-mile territory covering much of Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Northwest Community Hospital, Alexian Brothers Hospital, St. Alexis Hospital, Lutheran General Hospital and Glenbrook Hospital are all located within this catchment area. The suggested $12.00 donation for a ride does not cover the cost.  On average, it costs the organization $30.00 to provide this transportation.  No client is ever turned away due to an inability to pay.   Fund raising bridges this financial gap. 

ETS became a reality because Kathy Kasprowicz refused to stop coordinating rides between passengers and volunteer drivers in 2006.  In 2013, Ms. Kasprowicz retired as the Executive Director of ETS.  She continues her support as a volunteer driver and as a Board of Director and BOD President. 

Kathy knits scarves for homeless persons and distributes them at PADS sites; she serves on the Wheeling Township Board for Seniors and Aging; she volunteers with Catholic Charities Northwest Senior Services and founded and remains active with the St. James Elizabeth Ministry that provides support to women with problems in childbearing and along with Carol Anderson, helped start and now she continues to be a driver for the Wheels to Worship program at St. James that helps seniors get to church.   Kathy is also in her third year of serving on the St. James Parish Council.   She also spends Monday mornings in the St. James School Library.  

Kathy had the privilege of knowing Ken Hood and working with him on a few projects along the way.  Like Ken himself, Kathy Kasprowicz throws herself into her work for seniors with a passion for seniors, a sense of humor and a zest for living.