Giving back is what Madeline Kochman is all about. And even though the Forest Park resident experienced a rather Spartan upbringing, she has opened her heart to volunteering around the community for more than 40 years.
“My parents couldn’t afford to send me to a four-year college,” she stated as an obstacle that deterred her from pursuing an education. But in 1983, she made the decision to attend Triton College and took several classes during the course of 27 years.
“(I have an) appreciation for the opportunity to continue learning,” she said of her experience with Triton. “It made me aware and opened my eyes to whatever subject I studied.”
Between her courses at Triton, Kochman pursued her passion for volunteering. Communicating with people is her strong suit, she said. “Everyone says you get back what you give. I constantly say it is so true, and it makes me happy.”
Today, the avid volunteer spends her time with the Oak Park Temple and Vital Bridges organization, which provides food, shelter and counseling to HIV and AIDS patients in the community. In 1996, Kochman was awarded the Keter Shem Tov Award by her synagogue for being an example of friendship and comfort to strangers. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 for her dedication in enriching the growth of Oak Park Temple and its programs; the Hazel Hanson Award from the League of Women Voters of Oak Park/River Forest for her work on the Senior Services Committee in 2002; and was recognized by Vital Bridges in 2004 for her commitment to the needs of the HIV and AIDS community. Plus, she was recently profiled by ABC-7 News for all the volunteer work she has done.
Kochman credits her mother who volunteered late in life and her brother, “a brilliant doctor who has helped many people,” as her inspirations.
In her downtime – when she ever has any – Kochman said she enjoys exercising, knitting, reading, cooking and baking. Her future plans? “To pray every Friday night for strength and patience to continue what I’m doing,” she said.
See Kochman highlighted in the ABC-7 news series Caring for the Community, and/or read an article about her volunteer efforts at Oak Park.com.
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