It only seems as if Darien has more than one Darlene Henning
Age: "I think I'll just let that question go."
Family: Husband Jerry, daughter Kim, stepdaughter Tammy and stepson Jeff.
Hobbies: Stamping. She loves making her own cards. She also enjoys gardening and volunteering.
People she'd love to have dinner with: Jesus Christ and Bill Clinton, but not necessarily on the same night.
What's she's reading now: Al Roker's mystery, "The Midnight Show Murders." Next she plans to read former President George W. Bush's memoir, "Decision Points."
Favorite music: Light classical and Christmas music. "I think I could listen to Christmas music all year long," Henning said.
DARIEN Every committee needs at least one Darlene.
Every Scout group, 4-H Club and PTA works better with a couple of Darlenes.
And certainly, no church could pursue its mission without a good group of Darlenes.
Darlene Henning, a retired secretary from Darien, has spent her life being the person who puts together the church bulletins, volunteers for committees, rings bells for the Salvation Army and does dozens of other unglamorous jobs that make a difference.
Without Darlenes, nothing would get done.
Jim Santy, who nominated this particular Darlene, enthused about her commitment to the United Way.
"She has been a tireless worker for United Way and has been the secretary of our board of directors for the past 10 years, having served more than 16 years on the board."
And when we interviewed her pastor, the Rev. Michael Ida of First Baptist Church, Delavan, the first thing he said was: "She was just here working in the office."
Later that week, Henning and her husband, Jerry, were scheduled to work the overnight shift at the traveling homeless shelter that was staying at the church for the week.
"On mission trips, you'll find her on the roof working or cutting in a window," Ida said. "She rings bells for the Salvation Army; she sings in the choir."
Henning, who retired from Sta-Rite in Delavan, believes that organizations such as the United Way are the best way to help the most people.
"I'm really dedicated to what they provide," Henning said. "They can do so much for so many."
She also volunteers at SMILES, the therapeutic horsemanship program for the disabled.
"The staff there are just fantastic," she said. "It really struck me, when I first started to volunteer there, how hard the staff work."
Therapeutic horsemanship helps people with disabilities both physically and emotionally, and when Henning sees that transformation in clients, it makes it worthwhile.
Henning seems to embrace life as an opportunity to serve.
In November, she had a cancer operation—she's now cancer free—but it didn't seem to slow her down.
"She attended our United Way meeting … and took minutes, like the trooper she is," Santy wrote in her nomination.
He later added: "I don't know the extent of her involvements but can say without hesitation that she is a Christian who lives her faith."
Her pastor agreed.
"Darlene is one of those people who want to work to make the world a better place, and she sees the church as a conduit for that," Ida said. "You find life when you lose yourself in service."