"You say Woodridge, you think Debbi White."
That's what Linda Woody Kolling said in her nomination for White as Woodridge Patch Person of the Year.
“She has spearheaded, sponsored, attended and participated in nearly every single event in the village for years,” Kolling wrote in her nomination.
White is heavily involved with the Woodridge Jaycees, a local service organization for people ages 21-41. The Jaycees work with , and other public bodies to organize everything from coat drives and fundraisers for local families in need to helping out at the Woodridge Jubilee and Haunted Forest Walk.
Just one of White’s accomplishments in 2011: organizing a fundraiser following the , who died Oct. 6 at the age of 49, which raised $30,000 for Szczepaniak's family.
“The effort and love she put forth for her friend Sherri Szczepaniak over the last few months is that of not only a dedicated fundraiser but that of a true, loving friend," Kolling wrote in her nomination.
White has been a member of the Woodridge Jaycees for a decade. She said she joined because she had been volunteering “haphazardly” and was looking for some structure. Her boyfriend at the time signed her up for the group without her knowing.
“He just said, ‘Be at this place at this time,’” White said. “I went and I was just amazed that there was a group of people that did what I love to do with structure.”
Having that support amplifies what can get done, she said. “With a team of people behind you, you can do bigger and better things,” White said.
White served as:
- Membership Vice President in 2004
- Community Vice President in 2005
- President in 2006
- District Director in 2007
- Membership Vice President in 2008
- State Director and Presidential Assistant in 2009
- Northeast Region Foundation Chair in 2011
- Management Vice President in 2011
She was recently recognized with a Junior Chamber International Senatorship, the highest individual honor a Jaycee can receive. She also received recognition as the Mentor of the Year in 2010.
“That helps me be able to go out and help Jaycee chapters,” White said. “I do a lot of trainings and speaking engagements and such.”
Under White’s leadership, the Woodridge Jaycees were recognized as the best chapter in Illinois in 2006 and 2008. The Woodridge Jaycees will learn if they have received regional or state recognition for 2011 by Feb. 1.
The Woodridge Jaycees were also named the 2011 Association of the Year by the village of Woodridge.
No matter how much she invests in a project, White always emphasizes group recognition.
“She’ll be working quadruple what everyone else is working, but she’ll make sure the chapter receives the recognition, even if she’s doing most of the work,” said Kathy Crick, the Illinois president in 2010.
White accomplishes her goals and helps others do the same, Crick said.
“She’s very driven,” Crick said. “If she has a goal, she’ll stay focused on it. No one can tell her no because she won’t let them.”
White graduated from and owned a nail salon in Woodridge for several years. She now works out of her home.
“I closed (my salon) seven years ago mainly because I really wanted to get so much more involved in being a Jaycee,” White said.
Anyone interested in joining the Woodridge Jaycees can find more information at www.woodridgejaycees.org. The Woodridge Jaycees meet every third Thursday at