Congratulations Tim Olk on receiving your award from the Northbrook Civic Foundation! Make sure you check out his website and purchase a few images for your office. Thanks Tim for your dedication and hard work!
Article from Chicago Tribune:
“It was a rough day,” said Tim Olk of Northbrook before his Monday changed for the better.
Olk was about to receive one of two Northbrook 2015 Civic Awards Monday evening, given by the Northbrook Civic Foundation.
A professional fire scene photographer, Olk had spent the morning taking photographs of Chicago first responders hanging mourning bunting. Olk also photographed the processional which honored Chicago Fire Department firefighter Daniel Capuano, who died battling a blaze at a vacant Chicago warehouse earlier in the day.
Olk and seven volunteers of the greater Northbrook community were recognized at the Civic Foundation’s annual meeting and awards dinner, this year held at Northbrook Pinstripes.
Olk, a 1984 Glenbrook North High School graduate, and Bruce Gonzalez of Northbrook, a 1976 GBN graduate, each received the 2015 Civic Award. Both are lifelong Northbrook residents.
“I’m very honored,” Olk said.
Northbrook Fire Department personnel, including Northbrook Fire Chief Jose Torres, attended to support Olk.
Olk, who attended Wescott School and St. Norbert School, has photographed fire scenes since youth.
“I was riding my bicycle back then and I would show up at fires,” said Olk, who wanted to join the citizen public safety group Northbrook Alert in the 1970s.
Olk was turned down because he was too young, but joined when he was 16. Olk, an author and magazine contributor, began shooting on a Pentax camera and now uses a Canon.
He shoots for more than 50 Midwest fire departments including the Chicago and Northbrook fire departments. He also photographs funerals of first responders. Olk was certified in the 1990s by the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal to document fire scenes.
Olk supports the Northbrook Civic Foundation, photographing Northbrook Days, where he has volunteered for festival operations since he was 12.
“Tim Olk is a selfless, giving individual,” Chief Torres said. “Not only is he locally recognized, but he is nationally recognized for his contributions. He’s a big star.”
Olk was nominated by Tim Smeltzer, Northbrook Fire Department deputy chief. Olk also works for a Lake Bluff restoration company.
Bruce Gonzalez was nominated by Mary Lou Kratochwill, a 20-year Glenview resident and coordinator for the Northfield Township Food Pantry in Glenview.
“I think that when you nominate somebody, you talk about what they do, above and beyond, and Bruce helps at literally the drop of a finger,” Kratochwill said. “All it takes is a phone call to Bruce.”
Over an autumn 2014 weekend, Gonzalez struck the grocery store shopping template for the pantry. More than 650 families are certified as household pantry users.
Kratochwill believes his grocery design is a model for food pantries nationwide.
“Those in need can pick out the food that they want,” Gonzalez said, adding that food waste is reduced.
At the time, the food pantry was moving to its new Glenview location from western Glenview.
“We had no idea how to set up a grocery design,” Northfield Township Supervisor Jill Brickman said.
“He (Bruce) never says ‘no’ to us, does it cheerfully and never looks for recognition,” Brickman said.
“Ronnie is my mentor,” said Gonzalez of Ron Bernardi, also of Northbrook Sunset Foods.
Bernardi, who hired Gonzalez at Sunset, was among three recipients Monday of Civic Foundation life member recognition plaques, along with Jim Murphy and Steve Nojiri, both of Northbrook.
“I’ve followed in his footsteps and he’s (Bernardi) a good person to be mentored by,” Gonzalez said.
“It’s a twofer,” Kratochwill said of the Civic Foundation honoring both Gonzalez and Bernardi of Sunset Foods.
Also honored Monday for Civic Foundation special service awards were T.J. Vering of Northbrook and Matt Settler of Buffalo Grove, who both assisted with Northbrook Days.
The Outstanding Award recipient for volunteerism was Judith Franks-Farah for her work serving hospital patients and supporting Lubavitch Chabad of Northbrook.
The Northbrook Civic Foundation, dating to 1907, organizes its main annual five-day summer fundraiser Northbrook Days, which last year raised $90,000 to fund scholarships and community grants.
“Northbrook is fortunate to have such a wonderful volunteer base,” said Pete Amarantos, a Northbrook resident since 1977 and presiding Northbrook Civic Foundation president at the Monday meeting.
“The Civic Foundation is an organization that is always looking out for the best interest of the community,” Chief Torres said.
Karie Angell Luc is a freelance photographer and reporter for Pioneer Press.