ELBURN – The first thing people say when asked what Annette Theobald does for the community is a version of “What doesn’t she do?”
From attaching flyers about all things community-oriented to their pizza boxes and helping out with – or organizing – fundraisers, the owner of Paisano’s Pizza & Grill in Elburn and Sugar Grove and Eddie Gaedel Pub & Grill in Elburn has a hand in it.
Theobald was chosen as this year’s Member of the Year by the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, although she will quickly say that her husband Dick Theobald is just as involved – he’s just a behind- the-scenes kind of guy.
“Dick likes to stay in the background,” she said. “I’m just a face. There’s a lot of people helping.”
When the Theobalds opened a second Paisano’s in Sugar Grove a little more than a year ago, they joined the Sugar Grove Chamber. Now, Annette Theobald said she wants to organize a joint event between the two chambers so the members can get to know each other.
“Annette’s so involved in the community, it’s crazy,” American Bank & Trust Branch Manager Kathrine Bettinghaus said.
Aside from the three businesses she and her husband own, she drives a school bus for the Hinckley-Big Rock School District 429. She is also a member of the Kaneville Public Library Board.
Elburn Chamber administrator Tracy Leach said Annette Theobald is serving her second term as president of the chamber board. She is also an active member of her church, St. Gall’s in Elburn.
“She is always coming up with new ideas for events and ways to bring people together,” Leach said. “She organized a Meet and Greet of the Elburn Chamber members at the library and a couple of Hump Day Happy Hours for the businesses in town.”
Bettinghaus recalled that when she relocated to the Kaneland community, she received a welcome gift of coupons from a number of the local businesses. Theobald took this one step further. Based on her recommendation, members of both the Sugar Grove and Elburn chambers are currently providing an item for a swag bag given to every new Kaneland School District employee.
With two children involved in sports in the Kaneland School District, the Theobalds have been active supporters of the teams. At a recent pig roast to raise money for the Kaneland softball teams, they donated a television for a raffle, which raised $1,500 in ticket sales.
They also donate small pizzas for every ticket purchased at the Elburn Chamber Golf Outing.
Annette Theobald said her parents were good role models for pitching in without being asked.
“If there was someone or an organization working on a charity event or a fundraiser, my mom would say, ‘Let's go see how we can help,’” she explained.
When she was a teenager, her mom had Annette Theobald and her siblings spend a Saturday pulling weeds in the entryway to their subdivision where they lived.
“My mom told me that the subdivision belonged to all of us,” she said. “Although it was embarrassing to me at the time, it was a good life lesson.”
If she complained about something, her dad told her that she should either accept it for how it was or do what she could to change it.
She has brought those earlier life lessons to the fore in her relationships within her larger community.
She was nominated president of the chamber in January 2017. She said she had a few ideas on how to make the community a little better and help businesses grow.
“So you know when you have ideas on how to make something better, you better match your actions with your words,” she said.
She was responsible for bringing back the sidewalk sales on Main Street during the 2017 Elburn Days. She has also met with the Kaneland School District leadership to begin coming up with ways to strengthen the relationship between the businesses and the schools, as well as with other nonprofits.
With the belief that businesses have a responsibility to give back to the community, she looks for opportunities for them to do that. She has been working with others to show appreciation to the school monitors and to gather items for the young students to use at recess.
Bettinghaus said she has also been reaching out to a lot of new businesses in town, in order to bring them closer to others within the community.
“She is really good at connecting people,” Bettinghaus said. “She is so tied into the community."
Annette Theobald said she knows a lot of active chamber members who are also active in the community.
“That is the mindset that we strive to continue to grow,” she said. “We don't have to volunteer for everything. We should help out with the things that tug at our heart.”