Resident in the Spotlight
The Communication Committee launched a regular feature for the
Community Forum Website called “Resident in the Spotlight.”
The most recent Communications Committee recommendations resulted in Patty Meroni being chosen as our "Resident in the Spotlight." Congratulations Patty and thanks for all you do and have done for our Community! You deserve this accolade and much more!
Resident in the Spotlight Archives
We are archiving previous Spotlight winners so their attributes and award information can be viewed by anyone coming to this site.
For the articles on equestrian Allison Springer please go to Archive 1 from May 2008 and updates in 2009.
For the articles on the Holsteen family's award winning Pug Ike, go to Archive 2 from October and December 2008.
Patty Meroni - Resident in the Spotlight - 2009
Patty Meroni is our most recent “Resident in the Spotlight” nominated by the Communications Committee. Any one who has ever met Patty knows she has a ready smile and a twinkle in her eyes that belies the fact that the woman we know can do almost anything. If Patty Meroni is on the project “it will get done and it will be spectacular.” This award is long overdue! Patty is a major force in Barrington Hills behind many events and activities that need true leadership and a commitment to quality, to the community and to our way of life.
Patty and family at the 2007 Countryside School Reunion - photo courtesy of Laura Ekstrom
Patty started out as geography major at Washington University, and worked for twenty five (25) years in the travel industry, enjoying traveling around the world; she is still an avid traveler. She is committed to any cause that needs her and never lets up until it is done on time and under budget.
Patty and Marian Sanfilippo at the 2007 Countryside School Reunion - photo courtesy of Laura Ekstrom
In 2007, Patty was given Recognition at the Barrington Hills 50th Anniversary Gala at the Sanfilippo Estate, well deserved recognition for the many events she chaired and managed throughout 2007. When viewing the website’s History Pages, you will see Patty at nearly every anniversary event in the photos. She does not just plan the events, she is there to set up and see to every detail. In our photos you always see her with people, “working the crowd,” making sure everyone has a great time.
Her friend Carolyn Springer says: “Patty's work on the anniversary celebration was monumental. She hosted a dinner party for all the actors in the play about the history of Barrington Hills which was a great success. Patty has a long history of involvement in the horse community, hosting hunt parties, and more."
In the late 90's the cross country courses were in need of a major overall and the forest preserve would not let us use the creek for a water jump. A water jump would have to be built away from the creek. In order to have the courses designed and built a good deal of money had to be raised. In 1998, Patty organized a huge benefit that starred Monty Roberts, a famous natural horsemanship trainer. Patty raised over $14,000.00 for pony club to help with the rebuilding. Many in the community volunteered at this event and many contributed money to the cause. The event was amazing.
Patty is noted for her gourmet cooking and decorations. Jan Nestrud tells a story about Patty bringing elegant stirrup cups and breakfasts to the hunt. In Richmond, Patty decorated her horse trailer with beautiful tapestries and set up an elegant hunt buffet in her horse trailer. What imagination!
"Patty Meroni is one of the kindest people I have had the privilege to know. Her smile has the ability to change your mood and the general atmosphere of any party! I feel privileged to know her and call her friend." Beth Mallen.
Trustee Beth Mallen presents award to Patty at the 2007 Village 50th Anniversary Gala - photo courtesy of Laura Ekstrom
"If something needs to get done and done well and on time, people say, 'Ask Patty.' Always present and running the efforts behind the scenes, Patty makes it all look easy. Those who know her, recognize she always attends to the smallest of details with high energy and enthusiasm. She is inclusive, welcoming newcomers to the Village; she enjoys and protects the open spaces, the equestrian way of life and the character and history of the village at all times." Barbara Kemp
History and Restoration
Patty wrote the main article for our www.vbhcomm.info Village History Page. She believes in the celebration of our past and present. Patty has been married to her husband Chuck for 30 years. Together they have lovingly maintained the over one hundred year old Wakefield Farm that was built by resident George Van Hagen’s grandfather. George’s grandfather was one of the original builders of the railroad and once completed, he moved his family to the area we now call Barrington Hills. George Van Hagen, Sr. bought the farm with Jack Langeschulte and the barn that remains on Patty and Chuck’s 11 acres was an engineering marvel in its day. Patty believes in maintaining the past and restoring the barn to its former grandeur. She is just as passionate about everything she does.
Original Wakefield Farm Barn maintained by Patty and Chuck Meroni - photo courtesy of Beth Mallen
Patty’s focus continues to be on projects that are all done for the benefit of others. Most notably organizing events such as the July 14, 2008 “ Riding for a Cure.” Riding for a Cure, Inc. is a third party fundraiser for the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation. Horsemen ride out on a 20 mile trail ride, raising money through pledges.
It takes a lot of hard work to put together a successful event like Riding for a Cure. Over the last six years, the RFAC team has helped to raise over $478,000 for cancer research. This year they set the bar even higher for their team. Patty is on the Board of Directors, handling their legal and financial matters. Patty is quick to note she is just “one cog in the wheel,” but those who know her will tell you she has the energy and enthusiasm to make the wheel turn on time and with great success. http://www.ridingforacure.org/index.html.
Where Does She Get the Energy
We had to ask about Patty’s immense amount of energy and focus on her projects. She said she is blessed with the energy from her mother and her two daughters are the same way. She also said she is able to continue because she is doing what she loves and always has and that keeps her happy and healthy. She credits the peace and tranquility of the village and the equestrian community for helping her remain focused and committed to all of the multiple tasks that have faced her over the years.
What Motivates Her
In 2006, when Trustee and friend Beth Mallen and President Bob Abboud asked her to chair the 2007 Anniversary events, they made it clear the future of our village is dependent on the new people who come here to understand and believe in the past or the developers and speculators around us will turn our land into another big city with shopping centers and parking lots and we will lose our way of life.
President Robert Abboud presents Patty with Village Award in 2007 - photo courtesy of Laura Ekstrom
She made a commitment to herself all year to invite and involve as many new people and people who were not deeply connected to the community to get them involved so they could experience what a precious place they call home is and to impress them with the need to maintain the large acre lots and the equestrian lifestyle. Over the years she has honed her organizational skills and has other people who she feels are just as committed and hard working as she is to help keep the values in place and the land, peace and quiet and the skies dark so we can see and follow the stars.
Patty grew up on a farm in North Carolina loving the open country and riding horses. Her family was on the land since the late 1600s. When Patty is around horses, she feels at home. Patty was a backup rider for the U. S. Olympic Equestrian Team as a young girl. In 1973, she and her two daughters made their way to Illinois when Patty was promoted to Regional Manager for Thomas Cook, the largest travel agency in the world at that time. She and her daughters knew no one and Patty immediately sought out Barrington Hills as her new home because of the open spaces and equestrian lifestyle. Her office was in Schaumburg, but she soon opened a second office in Barrington to be near her daughters and become active in the community. She immediately joined the Pony Club so her daughters could grow up much the same way she had in a wonderful equestrian atmosphere. She became active in the Hunt, the Basset Hunt and the Fox Hunt, always volunteering time and energy to the causes and events. Patty worked hard to get to know people and to give something back to the community she loved so much from the beginning.
Patty had long made a name for herself in the travel industry before coming to Barrington Hills. When Patty booked corporate events, she was always there to supervise every detail and aspect of their success. She traveled to and arranged for events in almost every continent and major country in the world. When asked about her most notable professional events, she recalled the 1974 East-West Symposium behind the Iron Curtain with President Tito. It was the first ever major event of its kind behind the Iron Curtain. She organized the World Congress in Greece for over 8000 people. In the 1970s, when McDonald’s opened its first ever London location, Patty was the one to get the job done. These are just a few of the countless events she managed.
Eventually Patty stopped working for Thomas Cook and opened her own agency in Barrington, continuing to manage major corporate events world wide. This took her to Hawaii, Mexico, the Orient and South America. Her final corporate event was to get the U.S. Equestrian Team to Barcelona, horses and all, in 1992 for the Summer Olympics. On the way she needed emergency surgery and her team had to complete the journey without her. After that event she decided working for the corporate good was financially rewarding but not what she really wanted to do with the rest of her life. She committed herself at that time to work for organizations where she personally believed in the cause as a volunteer. From 1992 to this day, Patty has been tireless in her efforts to meet that commitment, never wavering in her purpose.
When you get Patty talking, she is full of fun and/or frantic stories about nearly every event. Every host and hostess knows the finished product may look wonderful but behind the scenes many things can happen that make you wonder if it will ever get completed on time. She recalled the very first Kalaway Landowners Cup Polo Match when she was out in the rain under umbrellas trying to get several grills going to cook the turkeys herself. The groom who was supposed to greet and help everyone as they arrived with their horses was missing and as it ended up he was at the police station when he was supposed to be at the event bright and early. She and the event hosts and supporters took over themselves and made it all happen.
For each event there are tales to tell and people who went above and beyond to “get it done.” Patty says she “used up all her favors” in 2007 for the Village’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. Because of all of the people who help to do this, Patty is hesitant to blow her own horn and quickly wants to list the other wonderful people in the village who are there beside her and around her making it happen. But this is her story and her recognition and, although she is reluctant to step out of the shadows to accept the Spotlight, we have strongly encouraged her to do so. We need role models like Patty Meroni! Patty, please take front and center stage and take bow!!!
Residents, please take the time when you see Patty and other leaders and volunteers at one of these big events, out and about raising funds, or just having lunch with friends, tell them how much their time and focus on the village mean to all of us. Remember: Patty Meroni is one of a kind and we love her! Go to the Photo Gallery Pages for many different events with Patty. More photos will be posted as they arrive.