2018 Character Counts Winners and Introductions of Awards

Burnell Wollar

 For the pillar of citizenship, I am honored to present this Character Counts! Award to Burnell Wollar.

Burnell formed the Barrington post of the VFW in 1946 with 66 other veterans. Over his tenure with the VFW, Burnell amassed over 4000 hours of volunteer work.  He has spoken to thousands of grade school and high school students about his experience in World War 2.  Burnell was in the second wave during the Normandy invasion.  He held the Ramagon bridge over the Reine, which was the final bridge that hadn’t been destroyed by the Germans.  Burnell was also slated to invade Japan until the atomic bomb was dropped.

 Burnell also has incredible respect for the American flag. He trained over 200 Girl Scouts at their Jamboree on flag folding and etiquette and has been in charge of burning the retired American flags for over 20 years at the cemetery.

 In the VFW, Burnell has been the Commander of the post and also held every other leadership position.  

While Burnell has fought all over the world, he has spent his whole life living right here in Barrington. He went to Barrington HS and held the record for the standing broad jump for many years!  He is class act and living legend!  Congratulations, Burnell.


Lori Allsteadt

I am pleased to present the Character Counts! Award to Lori Allsteadt for the Caring and Citizenship pillars.

Lori is what it means to be a leader in this community.  She is a detective for the Barrington Police Department and has been running the benevolent arm of the Barrington Police Department for around 10 years.  She runs Shop with a Cop where she raised enough money to purchase bikes for all of the children at Christmas.  She also runs Cop on Top which raises money for the state and local Special Olympics.   Beyond fundraising for the people in our community, Lori is involved in the Brotherhood for the Fallen where she represents the Barrington Police Department at the funerals for all fallen officers.  

Lori is also considered an ambassador for the House of Hope where she invests a considerable amount of her time.  She finds families in need throughout the community that aren’t currently reached by House of Hope and refers them to the organization.  Lori was instrumental in assisting the Fox River flood victims in 2017. She does this all by raising the funds for what is necessary to help.  Lori is professionally and emotionally invested in each family.  

We are lucky to have Lori in our community!  Congratulations!



 For the pillar of citizenship, I am honored to present this Character Counts! Award to Mary Anne Block.

Mary Anne is a longtime piano teacher with a passion for music and a heart for giving-back. 

Last year she created a non-profit organization called Music Blocks, with a mission to provide music education to the underserved students in our area.

As a music scholar and teacher, Mary Anne understands that access to music literacy not only enhances a child’s development, but also opens doors for future opportunities in middle school, high school and beyond.

Mary Anne’s mission with Music Blocks was to offer free or reduced-rate piano lessons to students who demonstrate a clear desire to study music, but lack the financial means to do it.

Over the last year, Mary Anne and her team started a pilot piano program at Sunny Hill Elementary. Through the Boys & Girls Club, select first through third grade students had the opportunity to take piano lessons as an after-school activity.  Music Blocks provided all the keyboards, stands and materials for the lessons, and needless to say, it’s been a huge success so far.

The program has been so appreciated by students and parents alike, that the hope is expand the scope to other 220 schools in the future.

Mary Anne, thank you so much for your citizenship, your vision and hard work to serve our Barrington community. Congratulations!


Jeanne Morgan

I am honored to present Jeanne Morgan with the Character Counts Award for Caring.

Jeanne is an English as a Second Language teacher at Station Middle School where she spearheads the Barrington Giving Day Committee. 

To say that Jeanne runs the committee is an understatement! She coordinates all of the fundraising efforts and mobilizes kids and staff to participate in them. This includes more than 20 activities – such as raffles, book and jean collection drives and a cutest pet contest to name a few!

As an ELL teacher, she personally knows some of the students who benefit from Giving Day. She has a real connection with them as well as many other students at the school. Her goal is not only to help families in need but to get all of the kids at the school involved – so they learn what it’s like to give and to receive and so they can feel what it’s like to be part of a caring community and make contributions to the people in our community. 

Jeanne’s peers told me that she is truly an advocate for all students. She exhibits care, compassion and kindness to all of those around her. She connects with people in our community and shows kids how to give back and be helpful. She devotes so much of her personal time and energy to the school and Barrington Giving Day. She does this with heaps of enthusiasm and creativity and she does so quietly without expecting recognition or reward.

Thank you, Jeanne. I am so honored to recognize you and to present this award to you!


Dori Squires-Hough

I am honored to present Dori Squires-Hough with the Character Counts Award for Citizenship.

Dori has been a dedicated member of the Barrington Giving Day Committee for many years. But, due to unexpected circumstances, Barrington Giving Day was without a leader last year. Dori quickly jumped into a leadership role and made sure that an event that is critical to our community continued.

Prior to last year, Dori was a committee member who collected hats, gloves and mittens. When faced with the possibility that no one would manage this very large event, Dori stepped up to a leadership position. She hit the ground running and did a fantastic job stepping into a role with large shoes to fill. 

Dori lead the committee in a way that was respectful of how the event was run in the past while working to bring some changes that would ensure that Giving Day can continue to be successful in the future. She helped improve the operations of the event to run smoothly and efficiently. She connected different groups and people and brought in resources from throughout the community. She did all of this with grace, caring and respect for those in our community who are in need.

The sense of community that was fostered this year around Barrington Giving Day extended beyond the families who attended as guests to include the many volunteers from all aspects of the community. 

As her nominator told me, without Dori’s leadership Barrington Giving Day wouldn’t have happened and she is in awe of what Dori was able to accomplish. Thank you, Dori, for exemplifying the pillar of citizenship. I am honored to present this award to you.


Claudia Gerrard and Sue Hyde

I am honored to present Claudia Gerrard and Sue Hyde with the Character Counts Award for Citizenship.

Claudia and Sue are the Program Coordinators for the Barrington Children’s Charities “Blessings in a Backpack” program. They have been coordinators since the program’s inception in 2010. 

Together, these ladies spend countless hours coordinating a program that provides over 650 bags of food for children in need in District 220. These bags are distributed weekly to our 8 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and the high school and ELC. During every week of the school year, more than 650 kids receive an extra bag of food to take home because of Sue and Claudia’s efforts. 

Claudia and Sue coordinate volunteers who pack the bags of food. They also work to ensure a good menu selection which changes weekly. They work on the logistics of delivery as well and the storage and sorting of food. They take into consideration what foods kids like and are sensitive to their privacy and the stigma a kid might feel by receiving this donation. 

Their heroic efforts in Barrington have made our program a model for the national Blessings in a Backpack program!

I’ve been told that Claudia and Sue are both selfless women who work tirelessly to give back to our community and who think about the kids all of the time. The impact of their work is huge. What started as a program for 375 kids at Sunny Hill Elementary School has turned into a program that serves more than 650.

Claudia and Sue, thank you both for all that you do! I am honored to present this award to you.


Andrew Carter - Teacher

Miss Kim - Bus Driver

Jeff Price - Teacher

Kevin Kienzle - “Mr K” PE teacher 

Dawn Keller -  Flint Creek Wildlife, Founder and Executive Director

Dawn Keller is a full-time volunteer for the Flint Creek Wildlife Not for Profit Organization.

Dawn works tirelessly to provide Medical Care, Food and Housing to over 3000 animals each year. She works 7 days a week and very long hours, as much as 16-20 hours a day to provide the best possible care to these animals so they can return to the wild.  This compassion and care also provides relief and comfort to those who have found these injured animals. Animal Control of Lake County rely heavily on the services Dawn provides to the animals.  Dawn also helps provide education that not only helps the injured animals but the public who are trying to care for them to be safe.  

There are so many times when Dawn has helped injured animals.  The Barrington police shared several stories with me and one of them they shared was she was spent several hours attempting to catch a baby animal in Barrington who was severely injured.  They said they didn’t don’t know anyone else who would be out a 10 p.m. running around Barrington trying to catch an animal to help it survive. They weren’t there but Dawn eventually caught the baby so she could help it.  

Another heroic and very endearing story was when a Deer had been hit on Northwest Hwy., Rte. 14 in Barrington.  The Deer was pregnant and Dawn delivered the 3 Fawns on the median of the Highway to try and save them. 

Dawn makes a lot of sacrifices for these animals and makes herself available at all times of the day or night and will leave a personal event to attend to an injured animal. 

It is with great pleasure that we present this Character Counts Award to Dawn Keller for her work for the Flint Creek Wildlife Organization and the Community.  


Donna Ewing 

Donna Ewing has dedicated her life to the equitable treatment of equine horse rescue for over fifty years.   Donna has had a long love for Animals and the work she does.  When Donna was 15 years old she bought a sick starving 3 year old untrained Horse for $25 and she nursed him back to health.  

Donna continued her love and nurturing of animals.  In 1971 Donna went to a horse stable in nearby community to look for a horse for one of her daughters, but what she found when she visited were six Arabian Horses dead and another horse starving.  Donna sought out help for these Animals.  After finding there was no help for these larger animals who were in need, Donna worked to crusade for animal welfare and to change laws in the state since there weren’t adequate laws  to help and protect these animals.  Donna also founded in that same year, 1971 the Northern Illinois Hooved Animal Humane Society(HAHS), the first large animal rescue in the country that was started on her 10 acre Farm in Barrington.  

Donna later started the Hooved Animal Rescue & Protection Society(HARPS) organization.   Her work with the two organization’s she had started has been well praised and acknowledged by many including actress and star Loretta Swit most popularly know for her role in the 1970 and 1980’s TV hit series “Mash”.  Loretta who was part of the Humane Community reached out to Donna and wanted to help her when she heard about her efforts.  Loretta and Donna became longtime friends and have often worked together in their mission to help and protect Animals.

A story last year on the work Donna and the HARP organization does was on July 16, 2017 shortly after the severe storms that swept across Illinois, the HARPS organization received an emergency call from Libertyville, IL,  where a family’s small farm had been flooded by the overflowing Des Plaines River, and their animals were at risk of drowning. Upon arriving at the site, Donna Ewing, and her volunteers found a devastating scene: two barns, and other property  were submerged in floodwater; the family had managed to get their miniature horse and goats to the still-dry garage of their home, but the river was continuing to rise quickly. HARPS volunteers went to work, using ropes and boats to swim and ferry the animals to dry land.  

There are so many stories of Donna’s heroism and work and it is with great gratitude and respect that we award Donna with the Character Counts Award. 


Isaac Cheek

Isaac Cheek is a Barrington High School Senior and nominated under the Pillar of Caring.  He is graduating with over 350 hours of volunteer hours clocked in through the school which doesn’t include all he does outside of school.  Isaac has been described as a genuinely caring, humble, and a positive influence and role model.  As a mother of 3 young children I could only dream to hear teachers use such words to describe my children. Isaac helps people of all ages.  He has spent time with younger children coordinating snowflake events, he was a youth coach for Special Olympics, he is co-leader of the Barrington buddies program, and part of Generation crossroads that visits the elderly.  This list goes on and on.  He was accepted and is attending the University of Utah next fall where he plans to double major in Political Science and Environmental and Sustainability Studies, with a minor in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.  His major reflects his desires to also save the environment which after seeing the time and dedication he is willing to put forth, and at such a young age, I am confident he will do great things.  Thank you Isaac for your selflessness and tenacity in helping better the lives of those around you.  Congratulations.