Homewood village board meetings are conducted according to a planned agenda, but the Nov. 22 meeting held a surprise for Mayor Richard Hofeld.
As Hofeld announced an adjournment of the meeting, he was interrupted by Village Manager Jim Marino.
“We have one more item for the agenda,” Marino said.
Three young people then approached the podium. They were led by Steve Ploum, founder and director of the Theatre & Arts Leadership Kouncil (TALK).
“Each year, our organization selects an individual in the community who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in moral and financial support of our work,” Ploum said. “We call it our Courage Award and tonight, we are honored to present it to you, Mayor Rich Hofeld, in recognition of your belief in our efforts to teach leadership skills to our young people.”
Hofeld has donated a portion of his mayoral salary to TALK, and the ChocolateFest 2017 revenues will be going to the organization.
Hofeld graciously accepted the award and thanked Ploum.
“Good things are happening in Homewood and we are very thankful for the work of the TALK organization,” he said. “Thank you for all you do.”
He told the young TALK members that they are “an important part of the community.”
TALK members Manual Gonzalez, Noah Colon and Brad Phimister made the presentation. Members Audrey Faris and David Washburn and TALK intern Madalyn Burroughs also attended the meeting.
TALK was founded by Ploum, an art therapist, in November 2011. Its mission is to teach leadership skills and to provide a voice for diverse populations using the expressive, transformative and rejuvenating power of the arts.
Members of the group, who are ages 12 to 18, come together to use their various talents to plan and execute arts-based events within Chicago’s south suburban area. According to their website, TALK provides a space for incubating these events, as well as a healthy, creative place to do homework or hang with friends. Older teens provide direction to younger members and TALK’s adult mentors assist and guide all of the teens in personalized, supportive ways.
The Homewood-based organization currently has more than 30 members. They meet at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evenings in the basement of St. Paul Community Church, 18200 Dixie Highway. Members also come from other communities, including Chicago Heights, Matteson and Chicago.
For further information on TALK, interested persons can visit the website at http://www.talksouthland.org.