Author: Renee Blue

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95. Synergy HomeCare of Barrington Celebrates Six Years of Service

 For six years, Synergy HomeCare has provided home-based, non-medical services to the Barrington area and beyond. Owner Diego Uribe and his dedicated team work around the clock to ensure that Synergy’s team of highly trained caregivers delivers the very best care to their clients. As they celebrate their sixth anniversary this month, they’re taking time to look back on what they’ve learned, and ahead to a growing future.
When Diego Uribe’s mother, Gladys Uribe, began her battle with cancer, Diego knew he would do whatever he could to ease her suffering and maintain her quality of life. “She had gone to the gym twice a day for as long as I could remember–she was a very healthy woman,” Diego recalls. “So to see her in pain, and to watch her health decline…it was a very difficult thing.”
Diego, a longtime Barrington resident, had to piece together resources in the Houston, Texas, area to provide the care his mother needed. Though there were many services available for medical and non-medical care, they were impersonal and required extensive coordination from a distance.
“I was upset by the lack of personal attention my mother received. She deserved better than that.”
It was a few years after his mother’s passing that Diego decided to leave his corporate job to pursue a career in home care services.
As Diego researched the home care industry, he was drawn to Synergy HomeCare’s business structure. “It provided some helpful tools for us as we were just starting out,” he says. So in March of 2008, Diego started the first Synergy HomeCare franchise in Illinois……

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71. Growing Cents of Style’s Spring/Summer Sale is On!

 Growing Cents of Style will open their doors to the public for their sixteenth seasonal consignment sale this Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and you’ll want to be first in line for their fabulous spring and summer merchandise. From baby gear to big-kid clothes, this sale has it all. You’ll find the crème de la crème of brands at a fraction of retail prices, and a selection that can’t be beat.
When the first Growing Cents of Style (GCOS) sale opened in 2006, in a small retail storefront in Barrington, 47 consignors participated with significantly fewer volunteers. It’s fair to say that, since then, word has gotten out about the twice-yearly sales: this season’s sale boasts 400 consignors, and an astonishing 257 volunteers. When Jenny posted the spring/summer sale’s volunteer slots back in mid-January, they were filled within 45 minutes.
To understand the awe-inspiring scale of the sale, all you have to do is walk into the warehouse space at Lake Barrington’s Treetime Classics. “This is our sixth sale in the Treetime Classics space, and it’s just been an awesome partnership,” Jenny says. It’s a football field-sized space, filled to the brim with the best children’s merchandise–from infant clothing to home accessories, and strollers to trikes.
As GCOS grows, Jenny works continually to ensure that her consignors and customers have the best possible experience. “We try to make it as streamlined, organized, and pain-free as possible,” she says. The best compliment she’s received from her customers is, “‘Why would I go anywhere else? You have the reputation for being the most organized, well-run sale.’ That’s just really nice to hear, because we work so hard to create and implement systems that keep things running smoothly for both consignors and customers.”
With higher volume comes the need for greater quality control, to ensure that brands are in compliance and items are in excellent condition. “We have someone here at all times during check-in doing a very thorough quality check, making sure that clothing is in great shape before it’s allowed on the floor,” Jenny says.
Over the past few years, the sale has become a family affair. Jenny’s mother, Nancy Phillips Heath; and Jenny’s sisters-in-law, Nikki Heath, Volunteer Coordinator; and  Michelle Heath, Point of Sale manager, have helped Jenny focus on her increasing management duties.
Consignors, who can sell up to 100 children’s items at the sale, can also volunteer before and/or during the sale. Those who volunteer earn a higher percentage of their sales, and earn pre-sale passes. And the perks increase with the number of shifts worked: volunteers who work a greater number of shifts gain access to prime shopping times, in addition to earning more money back from their sales. Plus Jenny offers other fun incentives, like those who work three or more shifts can win a drawing with an awesome prize: 100% of their sales…
Brooke Anderson, of Fox Point, has consigned at the past ten sales. “It’s the best way to get rid of the piles of great-quality clothes that build up in your house. I have two girls, who are 12 and 13, so it’s just become part of our routine. It’s a great idea–I wish I would have thought of it!”……

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62. Chess Without Borders Supports Girl in New Delhi, India

 Chess Without Borders, a Barrington-based non-profit chess and charitable organization, recently hosted its sixth annual chess tournament benefiting Meher, a nine year-old girl who lives in the Govindpuri slum in New Delhi, India. Over 135 players of all ages competed in the tournament, which raised over $7000.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will be used to aid Meher and to increase offerings at the Maggie Gruber Computer Center, also in New Delhi.
A Little Girl in Need
When hundreds of chess players, volunteers, and supporters flocked to Hough Street School on Saturday, February 22, it wasn’t just about chess. The stakes were certainly high for the chess players, who came from Barrington schools and far beyond. Anxious players awaited the competition (my own son among them, nervous for his first chess tournament), hoping they would prove worthy opponents. But even the youngest were aware that, win or lose, they would contribute to a very important cause.
Nina Sethi, sister of Chess Without Borders founder, Rishi Sethi, lived in New Delhi from 2008-2009, working for Project Why as an English teacher. Nina had already partnered with Chess Without Borders to establish a chess program in the slum where she worked, but as it turned out her work there was just beginning.
She was at the organization’s Women’s Centere when little Meher began running in each day. “She always had to inspect the new people, so she was coming to check me out,” Nina says.
Meher’s sparkling eyes and outgoing personality made her hard to overlook. Nina knew immediately that she would do whatever she could to secure a better future for the sweet little girl.
Meher was just an infant when the mosquito net over her bed caught on fire. Miraculously, she survived the terrible burns, but the experience left her face and scalp badly scarred and her fingers fused. Meher’s parents feared for her future; the prospects for a disabled girl in India were glum. Nina learned they could not afford the multiple surgeries required to help their daughter.
“I immediately started communicating with my mother [Dr. Kiran Frey, Director of Volunteers at Chess Without Borders]. She connected me with Dr. Khazanchi, whom she knew from medical school. It all just started falling into place–it was really amazing,” Nina says. Dr. Rakesh Khazanchi, a plastic surgeon in Delhi, agreed to perform Meher’s surgeries at minimal cost……

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33. Barrington Author Inspires “Culture of Generosity” with New Book

 Rem Stokes knows that talking about money makes most of us a little uncomfortable, but he argues the reward is well worth the exercise in his new book titled Cultivating Generosity: Giving What’s Right, Not What’s Left. Rem is an author, teacher, veteran fundraiser and a two-year resident of The Garlands of Barrington. He’s also a voracious reader, and a tireless advocate for conscious living and generous giving.
In Cultivating Generosity, Rem invites us to do some thoughtful introspection, with the hope that we’ll consider finding more resources to share.  He challenges us to think about the influences that shape our attitudes toward money and he explores how donating money can bring more happiness and personal satisfaction.
On February 10, at 11:30 a.m., Rem will share his book’s message at a discussion and book signing at The Garlands of Barrington’s Performing Arts Center and all are welcome (more details below).
Rem, 83,  is a true Renaissance man. A former engineering manager with Bell Telephone Laboratories and Motorola, he holds 22 patents. He holds degrees in both mechanical engineering and educational psychology.
His home at The Garlands is lined with books meticulously organized by subject–and he’s read them all.  When he’s not spending time with his wife, Lee, you can find Rem writing in his light-filled office (which has a spectacular view, by the way), or teaching anything from neuroscience to history.
Rem has been thinking about our relationship with money for quite some time. In 1953, at age 23, he joined the Unitarian Universalist Church in Summit, New Jersey. When the church’s minister asked Rem to canvass for their capital campaign to raise funds for a new religious education building, Rem enthusiastically agreed. He thought people would give eagerly to the cause.
When he asked people to donate, though, he was shocked by their “enormous ambivalence.” People were hesitant to give, and even more reluctant to say why not. That was the beginning of Rem’s involvement with 77 churches’ capital campaigns, and his lifelong study of money attitudes.
In Cultivating Generosity, Rem writes “For many, money is a delicate subject. When I was a kid, it was considered to be in bad taste to discuss sex, politics, religion, or money…Well, times have changed. People talk openly about yesteryear’s most personal problems: mental illness, personal diseases, and every form of cancer…But not money! Money may be the last great taboo.”……

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354. Little Shop of Papers has Gifts Galore

 If you’re still in the market for gifts this holiday season, we have a great new local resource for you. Okay, maybe not new, but most definitely reimagined, refreshed, and restocked. Little Shop of Papers, located in the Foundry of Barrington, has long been a destination for custom cards and invitations. Did you know, though, that they’ve recently expanded their giftware to include luxe lines like Juliska and Michael Aram? And that they even have great gifts for the men in your life? Get ready to be pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of offerings in store.
When Jean Stahr first opened Little Shop of Papers in 1988, paper cards and invitations were all the rage. Jean had found a great niche, and earned a loyal following from customers in the Barrington area and beyond. They still have a very strong customer base, but Amy Hawking, Jean’s daughter and the store’s co-owner, says it’s time to “open the next chapter.” Amy came up with a plan for helping the business evolve, while still “bringing manners back.”
The shift to digital photo cards and invitations certainly changed Little Shop of Paper’s business, but not its raison d’être: Jean and Amy are still on a mission to maintain civility in a culture that often prefers efficiency. And since gift giving is such a gracious art, they’re determined to offer a selection of gifts that you’ll be proud to give.
Amy and Jean are thrilled to introduce their new high-end, collectible lines. Juliska, which is headquartered in Connecticut, and Michael Aram, based in New Delhi, India, both offer artfully designed dinnerware and home decor items. The store is currently featuring Juliska’s Winter Frolic line, which features nostalgic scenes of winter fun against the backdrop of an English country estate. The pieces are timeless, and each is packaged in a keepsake box – no wrapping required!
Each piece in Michael Aram’s line is artisan-made, and showcases natural forms. You won’t find two alike, and that’s the beauty of his creations: each are hand-crafted in metal to reflect the beauty of both the materials and the uniqueness of the subject. From candles topped with a single perfect magnolia, to cheeseboards featuring black orchids, each gift is an enduring appreciation of nature – and of the lucky person who receives it.
If you have a few more holiday parties on your calendar, Little Shop of Papers is the perfect place to purchase hostess gifts. The shelves are still stocked with fun items–from candles and holiday-themed matches, to floral trays and pillows–at very reasonable price points.
“We’ve had Michel Design Works for many years, and it’s done very well for us,” Amy says. “Plus the scents are so much fun! Even my husband, who is not exactly discerning when it comes to scents, said, ‘That is the prettiest candle!'” The candles (pictured below, on the center shelf) come in festive scents like Sleigh Ride, and White Christmas, and sell for $25. “Michel also makes these fun foam soaps, like this one, Nutcracker Sweet, which go flying out of here.”
And if you’re setting a holiday table, why not make it easy with paper placemats? These fun Roseanne Beck designs (pictured below, on the bottom shelf at left) come in packages of 20, for just $12.
Amy has some great ideas for gifts to put under the tree as well. “We also have these fun Chicago-themed items by Dish,” Amy says. One of Amy’s customers was delighted to find the collection so close to home. She purchased several pieces for her grown children, not because they live in Chicago, but because they had recently run the Chicago marathon. A large platter is $54, and will serve as a reminder of their accomplishment for years to come.
And look at the beautiful glass ornaments with a winter snowfall scene, all tied up with a plaid bow. Wouldn’t they be lovely as gift toppers?
For trimming the tree, Little Shop of Papers has an amazing collection of ornaments from designer Eliot Raffit. Raffit, who is also a Cornell-trained architect, designs the vintage-inspired shapes and covers them in glass glitter. The glitter is made from pure silver in a seven-step process, so the ornaments reflect light like a diamond….…

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321. Notice Accessories for Living’s “One for You, One for Me” Gift Guide

 We all know that giving is the best part of the holidays, right? There’s nothing like spreading holiday cheer with just the right gift for that special someone. But Notice owner Mari Barnes and her daughters Becky Jackson and Hannah Hannick see that our eyes do tend to wander while looking for that perfect present. Despite our best intentions, holiday shopping quickly turns into “one for you, one for me.” (And how could it not, with so much cute stuff around? We really can’t be blamed.)
The ladies at Notice want us to embrace this method of shopping. “It makes shopping even more fun,” Becky says. “How’s that a bad thing?” We decided to make it official with the first annual “One for You, One for Me” gift guide.
Becky, who is in charge of visual merchandising and marketing, describes Notice as a one-stop-shop for clothing, gifts, and accessories. “We have great, unique gifts for women, men, and children–there’s something for everyone on your list,” she says. And because the Barrington store is one of three Notice boutiques–there’s also a store in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, and one in Evanston–they have tons of rotating inventory. 
“Barrington customers always get first dibs,” Mari says. “Since we have the largest storeroom here, we have everything shipped to this location.” They’re constantly bringing new items out onto the floor, where lucky Barrington shoppers can snap them up before they’re shipped off to Chicago or Evanston (if they ever make it onto the truck, that is).
Notice has all the glitter and glam a girl could want for the holidays: A vegan leather dress from Eva Franco (pictured above, at left, $278) is a great wardrobe update, and can easily withstand a red wine spill (not that red wine ever spills, but just in case). And while you’re there, you could pick up a sparkling frame or candle as a hostess gift–you can’t get much more efficient than that!
So here it is, folks.  Our “One for You, One for Me” Gift Guide including gift suggestions for all of those special people in your life along with companion gifts for yourself ;).  Happy shopping!
For the Wee Ones (and You)
As the mother of a 2 year-old son and 7 month-old daughter, Becky is always on the lookout for the cutest items for the kids in our lives. These Stack and Scare blocks by Uncle Goose ($52) are made in Michigan with sustainably forested basswood. The interchangeable pieces inspire creative building, and the graphic designs are great for the youngest architects.
And you’ll look adorable building alongside your little one in this Waverly Gray sweater ($218). The nubby texture, knit cuffs, and inset zipper take this sweater to the next level.
For a Great Friend (and You)
Color-blocked felt totes ($220 and up) from Gräf & Lantz would be a welcome gift for any woman on your list (including yourself!). Their bright colors and zig-zag stitching, coupled with rich leather handles, strike the right balance of design and durability.
The German duo of Gräf & Lantz also make coasters in the same 5mm-thick wool felt used on their bags.  Coasters just like these were used to protect tables in Bavarian taverns until the late 1800s, which is how they got their name “bierfilzl,” or beer felt. Combine a set ($22) with your favorite brew for a host/hostess gift with a bit of history. They’re functional, durable, and come in lots of great colors.
For a Man (and You)
For the men in your life, Notice carries a line of gorgeous Graphite Objects ($34-72) from sculptor Agelio Batle.  The organic, nature-inspired forms are handmade by first creating a clay mold of the object. Then carbonaceous graphite (the same material used in pencils) is combined with other compounds in the mold under intense pressure. The result is an art object that can also be used as a smudge-free writing instrument–one that will last up to seven years! (If you don’t see the perfect object below, just ask–there are many more designs available.)
And wouldn’t it be more fun to address your holiday cards with a fun pen like the ACME pens pictured below ($49.50)? Or combine a pen with one of Notice’s many  journals for a writing-themed gift.
For a Family (and You)
Getting ready to deck the halls? Decorate your mantel with a few stockings by Barrington resident Jen Hapwood’s company, My Perennial.…

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