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Everyday Heroes 2015

'She loves people'

Audrey Gleamza finds ways to help community members of all ages

After she had her first child, Laura Gleamza noted the help she received from her mother-in-law, Audrey Gleamza. Laura Gleamza said her mother-in-law seemed to know exactly how she would need assitance.

She said Audrey Gleamza would do laundry and dishes, the kind of tasks that allowed Laura Gleamza to focus on her child. It got to the point where Laura Gleamza said she was even a little uncomfortable that someone was so helpful, but the grateful daughter-in-law noticed this wasn't unusual for Audrey Gleamza. And the kindness wasn't restricted to family members.

"It was incredible," Laura Gleamza said. "That taught me to to do stuff when other people need help."

She said Audrey Gleamza, a St. Charles resident, is an inspiration at 92 years old. While she said others much younger will complain that they're too old to do even a simple task, Audrey Gleamza eagerly keeps up a busy schedule of volunteering her time and providing kindness to others. When Laura Gleamza nominated her mother-in-law as an Everyday Hero, she noted that Audrey Gleamza doesn't use the word "can't." Audrey Gleamza said she has no use for the word.

"That's a four-letter word. 'Can't' is not in my vocabulary," Audrey Gleamza said.

Audrey Gleamza and her husband, Ed, owned Parkside Liquors in St. Charles for decades. They recently celebrated their 70th anniversary.

Audrey Gleamza collects diapers for The Salvation Army. Laura Gleamza said it isn't uncommon to find that her mother-in-law will have to reorganize her vehicle's trunk, since she always has diapers in there. She has worked with the Kane County Association of Home and Community Education, offered through the University of Illinois Extension. She is a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in St. Charles, and she said she has served on the dessert committee for funerals.

She also inspires her daughter-in-law by continuing to attend exercise classes on a regular basis.

"She doesn't act her age," Laura Gleamza said. "She's never said to me, 'Oh, I'm getting old.' You hear that from people much younger than she is. … That's just never crossed her mind. I think that's pretty special."

She said her mother-in-law is interested in helping people and being with people in all stages of their life.

"Maybe the secret is that she loves people, no matter what their age," Laura Gleamza said.

Laura Gleamza said her mother-in-law has a knack for knowing when someone needs help and providing that assistance. During a funeral, for instance, the family of the deceased might not immediately be thinking of dessert, but Audrey Gleamza is there. Laura Gleamza said it's the same with the diapers at The Salvation Army.

"She's very thoughtful," Laura Gleamza said. "She knows what people need. … You need diapers. Where are the diapers coming from, if you can't afford them? People like Audrey are providing them for people."

Audrey Gleamza said doing those tasks is helpful for herself as well.

"Those are my things," she said. "I like to do those things. They make you feel good."

The Gleamza lowdown

Who she is: Audrey Gleamza, who collects diapers for The Salvation Army and does other volunteer work

Town of residence: St. Charles

Age: 92

Family: Husband, Ed, as well as six children, 12 grandchildren and nine great- grandchildren

Hobbies: Solitaire and crossword puzzles

Fun fact: Her advice is "just keep smiling"

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