When Darlene Marcusson first found out she had been nominated for this year’s Roscoe Ebey Citizen of the Year Award, she was honored. When she won, she was shocked.
“I didn’t understand that I was going (to the ceremony) for the award,” Marcusson said. “They told me to go for an interview. ... I didn’t even realize this was the award ceremony.”
Marcusson, founder and executive director of St. Charles’ Lazarus House, which serves men, women and children in Kane County who are homeless or at risk, said she fit the ceremony in between two other interviews and arrived out of breath. She lost just a bit more of her breath when she realized she was one of three people being honored.
“It was a very nice surprise,” Marcusson said. “This community is just amazing. I said at the ceremony and I mean it most sincerely; this award doesn’t belong to me but everyone in the community. Without support and ... love, we wouldn’t be here.”
Sarah Giachino and Kathy Tobusch of Batavia’s Fox Valley Troop Support Inc., which writes letters and sends packages to soldiers overseas and cares for returning soldiers, also received this year’s award.
According to Sheriff Pat Perez, the award was named for Roscoe Ebey, an Aurora man and World War II veteran who was murdered in 2007. Leslie Fleming, a neighbor of Ebey’s, caught the man who killed Ebey after overhearing the murder. He pulled the attacker out of a window by his hair and held him down until the police arrived. Fleming was the first recipient of the award. Ebey’s son Richard, who lives in Montgomery, comes to the event yearly to honor the winners.
Perez said there usually is only one winner of the award, but he saw fit to name three this year.
“These are people that are really reaching out in the community that are doing (good things),” Perez said. “It tends to be a lot of times things that get into the news are things that are devastating or negative stories ... it’s kind of nice to remind people that there are a lot of good people in the community.”
Nick Amatangelo, a 17-year-old St. Charles resident, also was nominated but did not win the award. Amatangelo, however, was stunned by the nomination and said he’s just glad to be recognized.
“It’s pretty cool that someone thought what I did was worthy,” Amatangelo said. “I don’t do it because I’m going to get recognition, I do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
Amatangelo, who eventually wants to teach or become a lawyer, volunteers with Lazarus House, makes blankets for the homeless, plays viola for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and has collected more than 10,000 items for men and women in the military as a part of an Eagle Scout project.
Perez said recognizing people who do so many good things in the community is one of the biggest positives of the year.
“It gets kind of emotional,” Perez said. “It kind of chokes you up a little bit. It’s not your run of the mill ‘OK, you get an award and a pat on the back.’ It’s people that really, really are doing things, the kind of people that would never expect an award. That makes it even more special.”
Other Kane County residents nominated include Cliff McIlvaine of St. Charles, Dr. Timothy Brown of the Kane County Diagnostic Center, Janet Swanson of Aurora, Annie Craig of Aurora and Emily Laughead of North Aurora.