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BJWC Awards Ten Community Members with Character Counts! Awards

The Barrington Junior Women’s Club awarded Barrington’s 16th Character Counts! Awards on Monday, April 24 during the Village of Barrington Trustee Board Meeting.


Friends, family, and colleagues, as well as BJWC members, gathered to award and honor the recipients.

A national program, Character Counts goal is to promote core ethical values through "Six Pillars of Character":

  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

The recipients of these awards are usually recognized as citizens who are not in the limelight, yet whose character impacts the community around them.

Each year the nominations are open to the community, and the nominee must reside or work in the Barrington 220 area. Nominees can range from students, coaches & teachers, employees of local businesses, community volunteers, or neighbors, etc. Nominees must show the values of the Six Pillars and be verified by at least two additional references. Barrington Junior Women's Club Members select winners and award the recipients.

This year’s awards included:

Gabrielle Eckersall Gabrielle was awarded based on the pillars of Citizenship and Responsibility. As a junior at Barrington High School, Gabrielle is the founder and president of Girl Effect Barrington. Committed to raising awareness and educating girls and women throughout the world, Girl Effect Barrington has raised over $20K to build a school in Nicaragua under Gabrielle’s leadership.


Angela Llharena Angela was awarded based on the pillar of Responsibility. Angela is active in her three children’s Barrington schools serving as the secretary of her PTO, chairing her Annual Fitness Night and acting as the school’s Nature Lady. A leader in the Broncos Committed program, she works to promote a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle for Barrington High schoolers. She also participates in the Safe Families program, opening her home and providing a safe haven for children whose parents are in crisis.

Linda Kurcab A longtime Barrington resident, Linda was awarded based on the pillar of Caring. She has been a JourneyCare Volunteer since 2014 providing companionship to pediatric patients and their families. She also volunteers on the JourneyCare Garden Committee planning the gardens and planting flowers to create a warm, loving environment. Linda has also secured donations for the garden, helping to dramatically cut program costs.

Nancy Kholamian Nancy was awarded based on the pillar of Caring. Also a JourneyCare volunteer, Nancy spends most of her time caring for patients suffering from dementia. Described as a loving and gentle caregiver, she will do anything she can to make patients more comfortable during this difficult time in the lives. Nancy is a leader on the JourneyCare Garden Committee helping to secure donations from the community including plants and pots that she designs herself.

Susan Lenz Susan was awarded based on the pillars of Citizenship and Caring. Susan was the first Nature Lady and now stewards the Nature Lady Program across all ten Barrington area private and public elementary schools with the goal of educating kids on nature and the importance of conservation. Susan also serves on the board of No Child Left Inside and where she promotes Barrington Kidfest and is on the board of Fred Fest to raise money for Lake County Preservation. Susan is employed by the Barrington Area Conservation Trust as their Director of Community Engagement. She will be retiring as the head of the Nature Lady program this year.

Georgia Nelson Georgia was awarded based on the pillar of Citizenship. A teacher at Barrington 220's Hough Street Elementary School for almost 13 years, Georgia’s passion for not just teaching but lifelong learning and citizenship impacts her students well beyond their time at Hough Street Elementary School. Outside of the classroom Georgia donates her time to run the Hough school play, the speech tournament, and the innovative young entrepreneurs program. Last summer Georgia was selected to go on an international trip to share her knowledge regarding education and personal empowerment with girls in a developing country.

Connie Simon Connie was awarded based on the pillar of Caring. After 25 years with the district and five years as Barrington 220 School District Assistant Superintendent of Student Services & Support, Connie’s contributions have reached an immeasurable number of students in Barrington. She works countless hours advocating for students. Her major contribution that is now a mainstay in Barrington is the development of the Transitions program to help those 18-22 who don’t go to college get internship work and skills to lead to employment. Connie will be retiring this year.

Jeff Simon Jeff was awarded based on the pillar of Caring. As a 2nd grade teacher at Barrington 220's Roslyn Road Elementary School for 14 years, Mr. Simon is known to have high expectations, but his students always rise to the challenge. He volunteers his personal time teaching mini-courses after school, chaperoning the 5th-grade Timberlee trip, performing in student variety show and emceeing school fundraisers. As a tribute to a beloved friend and fellow Roslyn teacher who passed away from cancer, Mr. Simon writes and directs an annual school play to honor her memory and love for the arts. All proceeds help support the school’s arts fund.

Cami Tchoi Cami was awarded based on the pillar of Caring. Mother of two, Cami has taken the initiative to plan activities for the students and families at Barrington 220's Hough Street Elementary School to promote service. Cami Organized a “Buy it and Tie it” program in which students and their families made almost 70 blankets to donate to Barrington Giving Day. She planned and executed a holiday party for the students in the after-school program at Barrington 220's Sunny Hill Elementary School and organized a Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party during which materials were cut and then later sent to Uganda to be made into shoes. She also planned a Community Service Fair to raise awareness of volunteerism.

Rafael Zamora Rafael was awarded based on the pillar of Caring. Rafael is the head custodian at Barrington 220's Roslyn Road Elementary School. Not only does he have the respect of all the teachers, parents and PTO but he also has the respect of the students. Mr. Zamora is the man with the everlasting smile and will go out of his way to accommodate the students, staff, and PTO no matter the request. He portrays respectfulness to those around him, pride in his work, a caring attitude for others, humility, grace and does it all with a cheerful can-do attitude.

About BJWC

"The Barrington Junior Women’s Club (BJWC) is a 501c3 organization that was established in 1936 to improve the lives of women, children and senior citizens in the Barrington area community through philanthropy.

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