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August, 2011

No "Dog" About It

Customer Spotlight: Animal Welfare League - Chicagoland's Largest Humane Society

When most of us reminisce about our childhood, there is usually a small furry friend that makes the picture complete. Whether it’s Max the dog, Lucy the cat, or Polly the goldfish, pets teach us patience, responsibility and love. They deliver an adoring gaze when we need a boost, provide a confidant when we need to vent and a friendly face to meet us at the door. They grow along with us and inevitably a deep connection develops transforming them from household pet to full-fledged member of the family. Perhaps it is this widely shared experience that compels many to selflessly dedicate themselves to animals.

Animal Welfare League (AWL), a non-for-profit located on both the south side of Chicago and in the south suburb of Chicago Ridge, has been devoted to caring for injured, neglected or abused animals for over 75 years. As advocates for animal rights, their motto is “recovery is the answer, not euthanasia”. AWL not only works locally to deliver education programs emphasizing respect and compassion for all creatures but also contributes on a municipal, city and state level to improve the treatment of animals as well. However, like many non-for-profits, AWL depends on the donations and generosity of others to continue to provide these services in their communities. Since they do not receive any Federal or State funding, AWL accepts both monetary and material donations. Therefore, each contributor can determine which donation option is best for them. Check out their donation wish list (attach).

With its state-of-the-art shelter in Chicago Ridge, AWL is able to provide an on-site, low cost clinic, which is open to the public. With veterinarians on staff, the clinic offers a range of services from spay/neutering, vaccinations, and exams for a minimal fee. It is the hope that patrons will utilize the clinic for their current pets’ annual upkeep, as well as, spay/neuter their animals to prevent overpopulation. Since AWL wants to ensure pets are in tip-top shape when they leave with their new family, included in the adoption cost for dogs and cats are spay/neutering, initial one year vaccinations, rabies shot, tag/leash, cat carrier, 10-day health guarantee and even Avid Micro chipping to reunite lost pets with their families.

Every year it is estimated that close to 10,000 animals find new homes through AWL’s adoption program. However, while AWL strives to find a home for every pet, it has to be the right home. Their adoption process includes a verification process to ensure adopters choose an appropriate pet for their situation. For instance, if a particular large breed of dog is picked, an AWL investigator will perform a “house check” to confirm adequate yard space and fencing is present. AWL also recommends that if there are other household members or pets that will be living in the residence, that they also come into the facility prior to the adoption process being finalized to initiate a “pet introduction”. This reduces any surprises and the likeliness that a pet will be adopted just to be returned a short time later.

Animal Welfare is a local business that does amazing work for their communities. With the dedication of their employees, volunteers and benefactors they work together to gradually improve the treatment and rights of all creatures both big and small. If you would like to learn more about AWL, donate or volunteer, please visit their website or feel free to stop by their Chicago Ridge location. They would love to meet you!


Top 10 Easily overlooked back-to-school essentials

(ARA) - Pens, pencils, erasers, paper - these are the school supplies students need year after year and are on almost every parent's back-to-school shopping list. However, that doesn't mean they're the only supplies students need to survive the school year with ease. Instead of waiting until your student realizes what he's missing once it's too late, shop now for these easily overlooked back-to-school essentials.

"Most students have that 'oh no' moment once they're under a deadline and realize they don't have the right materials to complete it or when they're already stuck in a difficult situation," says Rebecca Smith of Master Lock. "Using past experience to think ahead and shop early will help students - and parents - avoid those dreaded moments and navigate the school year a bit easier."

1. Pencil sharpener. You've got the pencils, but sharpening them can be a real hassle as not all classrooms have a functioning built-in sharpener. To help students avoid trips to and from their desk during important tests, purchase a small pencil sharpener with a built-in shaving collection system that can be stored in a backpack pocket.

2. Portable stapler. Students are often in need of a quick staple, yet a stapler is nowhere to be found. A small, portable stapler can be a major timesaver for students who are frequently required to turn in multiple-page assignments.

3. Umbrella. Whether walking to class on a college campus or home from middle school, umbrellas are an easily overlooked school essential that pay dividends in student comfort. A collapsible model that fits in your student's backpack or book bag will be easiest to carry whenever the weather looks questionable.

4. Correction fluid or tape. For last-minute, on-the-go fixes to important school assignments, a bottle of white correction tape or a correction pen is a must when re-printing or re-doing isn't an option.

5. USB flash drive. Since so many school projects are now completed on computers, a USB drive makes it easy to save files and work on them anywhere. Whether your student is working on a paper at home, or on a group presentation at a friend's house, files will be easily accessible.

6. Stain remover pen. From lunch spills, to grass stains to stray pen marks, students appreciate being able to touch up messy spots that wind up on their clothing throughout the day. Where water doesn't always work, portable stain remover pens work well on hard-to-remove spots.

7. Security products. School supplies become useless if they're stolen from your student. To help avoid theft, invest in at least four types of security products: a padlock for students' school or gym lockers such as Master Lock's Speed Dial combination lock, a backpack lock to deter pickpockets, a portable mini-safe that can help keep valuables safe in a dorm room or in transit and a lock to attach to your laptop or desktop computer.

8. Three-hole punch. From organizing class notes and handouts in a three-ring binder for easy review, to binding presentations before turning them in, students find endless uses for a three-hole punch after investing in one.

9. Mints or brush strips. Since many schools do not allow gum in classrooms, mints or brush strips are great options for students to carry with them for use after a potent lunch.

10. Water bottle. If your school allows it, help your student stay hydrated by providing them with a portable water bottle that can hang from a backpack via a simple carabineer. A hydrated student equals a happier and more productive student. Water bottles are particularly handy if the school is older and not equipped with air conditioning.

For more advice on back-to-school essentials, visit


Vacation Tips to Protect you and your Family

Vacations should be a time spent having fun and relaxing. By taking a few extra precautions while traveling, you can prevent yourself, or your friends and family, from being a victim of crime. thorntonpowell, a leading provider of auto and homeowners insurance, offer these safety tips to help you, your friends and family have a fun and safe vacation:

  • Do not carry large amounts of cash. Use traveler’s checks that can usually be replaced within 24 hours.
  • Use ATMs only during daylight hours. If you must use one after dark, try and find a well-lit, busy area such as a grocery store.
  • Leave copies of trip information with a friend or family member at home. This includes credit card numbers, passport numbers, plane tickets and itinerary information, and phone numbers for your credit card companies.
  • Keep credit cards, cash, passport, and plane tickets separate.
  • Wear a “money purse” underneath your clothes that contains passport, phone numbers for credit card companies, and a small amount of cash, should your wallet get stolen.
  • Carry a “dummy” wallet in your back pocket containing $20 which, if you were to be mugged, would satisfy the robber without draining all of your funds.
  • Have your mail delivery stopped while on vacation. If you have a neighbor retrieving mail and newspapers while you are away, ensure that they will be there every day. Nothing says an empty house like a stack of mail or newspapers at the front door.
  • Do not assume your personal documents are safe in your hotel room. Lock them in a safe while the room is unoccupied.
  • Have separate ATM, debit and credit cards and make sure that you need a PIN for in-store use of a debit card, not only for the ATM.
  • For women, do not hang purses on the back of bathroom stall doors. It is very easy for someone to reach over the door and grab it.
  • Leave your regular checkbook at home. If your checks are stolen, it’s difficult to cancel them and track their use as you would a credit card. Plus, if someone re-orders checks in your name, you won’t realize it until you receive your bank statement.
  • Only carry credit cards that you will need on vacation. Leave cards for particular department stores or things like gas cards at home.
  • Remember that your credit card number is on your plane tickets, so treat them as you would a credit card.
  • Cover ATM key pads when entering your PIN. People could be watching over your shoulder, or even from a distance, and then later attempt to steal your wallet and use this information.
  • Use common sense when traveling. Do not draw attention to yourself as a tourist. Avoid reading maps in a busy, high-traffic area, carry your camera in a tote bag rather than the carrying case, and do not flaunt large amounts of cash when removing money from your wallet or pocket.


Your homeowners, condo or renters insurance policy may cover loss or damage of your personal items while traveling, up to specified limits. Take time before you go on vacation to compile a personal property inventory, which helps determine replacement cost of lost items. Document each item’s year of purchase and original price. Items that may exceed policy limits, such as jewelry, cameras and golf equipment, may need additional protection. To ensure you have the coverage you need, contact us today.


August Recipes

With the heat wave, no one is wanting to turn on the oven, so for this edition, we collected fresh, cool recipes to enjoy for the back to school season. We are definitely not ready to put away those grills so you may find a quick but tasty recipe to fire up and what about those gardeners out there?! Has your basil bloomed or your tomatoes ripened? It is a nice feeling to be able to walk in the back yard and have fresh options at your fingertips! Hopefully there is something for everyone in this months RECIPE section and please remember, feel free to share your family favorites with us as well!


EZ Asparagus Avocado Salad

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber and Celery

Sweet-n-Sour Chicken Stir Fry

Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad