Quintessential people

Wonder Woman: Beth Raseman

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by Judy Masterson | Photography by thomas balsamo

Beth Raseman, project coordinator for Barrington’s White House—the renovated jewel of Main Street and point of historical pride for
the Village’s year-long Sesquicentennial celebration—jokes that she is a
professional visitor.

“I love people,” she said. “I love getting to know their stories—what matters to them. I care about those stories. I believe if you’re authentic in your interest in people, in your interest in solving problems, that that comes through and helps good things happen around you.”

Good things have happened around Barrington since Raseman moved to the Village in 1989 with her husband and young family. Saint Anne Catholic Community was the very first place Raseman volunteered, initially as co-chair of the playgroup, then eventually as a leader of the architectural award-winning church and school expansion. During her tenure as a Village of Barrington Trustee, she spearheaded the effort to establish a Public Safety Memorial Park on Hough Street, which pays homage to fallen police and fire officers; it was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2003. As V.P. of Development at Hospice of Northeastern Illinois (now JourneyCare) she was instrumental in raising the funds and the building of the Pepper Family Hospice Home and Center for Care which serves patients across the region and patients who spend their final days in family-friendly, state-of-the-art hospice home. And now, the former Robertson House, c. 1898, at 145 W. Main St., a once faded remnant of a bygone era, has been transformed into the belle of the ball as Barrington’s White House, a community and cultural center.

In all these projects, and many others on behalf of her Fox Point neighborhood, Barrington Schools, Saint Anne Parish Council and Women’s Club, the Village of Barrington, and a host of worthy causes, Raseman has been a driving force—researching options, raising funds, reviewing plans, motivating volunteers, and directing teams.

“I’m a problem solver,” said Raseman, who earned a degree in economics from Notre Dame University. “It’s funny how you find your natural tendencies. A lot of people like helping, but not running or organizing. That’s my natural personality. I like working on a bunch of things at once.”

As a result of Raseman’s particular skillset, Barrington has grown in character, beauty, and hometown feel. Those qualities are what attracted the Rasemans to the Village in the first place.

“Steve and I moved to Barrington because it’s such a special community, with a small town quality and so many good people,” Raseman said. “It’s a place where you feel welcome, where you can find a niche for giving back, where you can be a part of helping make things even better.”

The oldest of eight children, Raseman was born in Pittsburgh, but moved often as the family followed her retail executive father to cities across the East Coast, the Midwest, and California.

“I went to 11 schools from first grade through college,” said the perennial visitor who found grounding in the stability of her family and who, like her parents, became involved in each community, church, and school.

“Whenever we moved, I always gave it a year because I knew it took a while to make friendships,” she said. “Joining organizations, getting involved in activities right away, propels you to get to know people.” After moving to Barrington, her husband traveled extensively on business. Raseman, now the mother of three grown children—John, a doctor; Amy, a CPA; and Billy, a civil and environmental engineer—found she enjoyed volunteerism. “I enjoyed being at home with the kids and being a part of things in the community,” she said.
All the moving stamped Raseman with a particular quality of “looking forward.” It also gave her the yen to settle.

“I loved every single place I’ve lived, and seeing and understanding the different things that were important in those places—good schools, active community and church, and access to parks and forest preserves,” Raseman said. “But it was nice to raise our family in one place.”

Her talent for fundraising is a product of her social, take-charge nature. Her secret is recruitment, and the power of the story.

“If I’m passionate about something and believe in it, it’s easy to ask people to support it,” she said. “I try to bring people together who will help me spread that message and who have the ability to reach out to other people who can get more people interested. A lot of people are very generous. They want to give, especially to places or causes they’ve been touched by that make their community, their world, a better place.”

Raseman’s signature projects share a common theme. They help build community. They bring people together. Each project starts with a vision and is fueled by a story. Barrington’s White House was the social center of the town when it was built. It’s restoration and repurposing is about renewal of tradition, and community ownership. The grand house, with its columns and arched windows, expansive front porch and lush landscaping, now belongs to everyone.

“The house is a bridge between the future and the past,” Raseman said. “There are people in Barrington who have seen so much change. They appreciate this tangible connection to the village they grew up in. Both older and newer residents appreciate the sense of community it represents.”

Sharing that vision has been key to the Barrington area’s embrace of the White House. “Telling our stories helps create momentum,” Raseman said. “One of the best things about working on these projects is all the people you meet, all the stories you hear that help you connect them to the project and allow them to play an important role in it.”

Whatever the project—a park, a church, a hospice, or cultural home—Raseman, who in May was named the Barrington Area Development Council’s 41st “Citizen of the Year”, cherishes the dedication, the unveiling, the grand opening.

“It’s watching people be so proud and so excited,” she said. “It’s watching people see the vision come to life. It’s the celebration of that moment. Sometimes, when I’m sitting at Saint Anne, maybe it’s a baptism, or Easter service, and the church is packed with people, I get this wonderful feeling of fulfillment. It’s about building something that benefits people, knowing we built it together, seeing it work in real life.

“Our community is a place that wants to be the best place it can become,” Raseman said. “I believe there are more great things to come for Barrington.”

 

Here are some words that others shared about beth raseman

Dee Beaubien, Colleague

Beth and I have known each other for over 15 years through our work together with Hospice of Northeastern Illinois, now known as JourneyCare. Our families have an even longer relationship through my daughter-in-law, Mary, who taught Beth’s daughter, Amy, when she was in second grade at Lines School in Barrington. Amy even babysat for my granddaughter, Annie, when Amy was in 5th-grade and Annie was a baby. During the hospice years, Beth and I worked closely on raising funds for the Pepper Family Hospice Home and also were both founders of the Barrington Concours d’ Elegance that began in 2007 and is now relocated to Chicago. We now stay in touch through my family’s involvement with the Barrington White House restoration project.

Beth is truly an exceptional person who is disciplined and talented in getting any goal she sets achieved. I’m certain that everyone knows her contributions to our community as a village trustee, as a valued member of our JourneyCare Foundation staff (and head of it until she retired), and now as the person volunteering her time for all of us in getting the Barrington White House restored. The White House—and also Beth—are gifts to our community and we should all be grateful to Beth for her dedication to seeing the project to its completion. There are many, many stories from our years of raising money during the recession, of writing government grants, and utilizing every connection we had to see the complicated grant process through to successful completion—and receipt of the money sometimes years later! It was always a pleasure to go on a fundraising call with Beth—somehow they always turned out to be fun, especially in the early days of the Concours and the hospice home campaign. She is a delightful person with whom to work on any project. Beth’s family is also amazing, talented, and wonderful contributors to our community.

Chet Busse, Colleague

Beth and I work together on the Barrington White House project. I am the construction manager for Pepper Construction. We work together on a daily basis coordinating owner and contractor construction issues. We also worked together on the Hospice/JourneyCare project in Barrington. Beth and I are also neighbors in Fox Point. Beth is a tireless worker who seeks perfection. She knows nearly everyone that works on the site and always has kind words of encouragement for them. Beth has the ability to understand all options and steer to the correct course.

Kathy Casey, Friend

Joie de vivre and diligent best describe Beth. I have known her since 1989 having met her via the Newcomer’s babysitting co-op. I was taken with her infectious laugh, openness, and friendliness. On a clear night, I can hear her laugh across the soccer fields near Lines School at my home if we both happen to be outside at the same time. It tickles me.

Soon after, she came to a Saint Anne Women’s Club coffee and was drawn into volunteering for the Club and the Saint Anne Catholic Community. Beth worked on various events held at the time—Sugar Plum Fair, Breakfast with Santa, funeral ministry, etc. She took on leadership of the Club, got involved with projects at the church—small groups, parish council, social events, development and funding of the new Saint Anne Church—and flourished in her role as a parent. It became clear she was a leader with good ideas, an easy manner of building consensus and camaraderie, keeping people engaged, and following through on projects. It is rare to see all those traits in a volunteer. She is the consummate professional, and full of the joy of living. Beth cherishes her family and friends and it is a pleasure to count her as my friend.

Karen Darch, Village President

Every once in a while a person is born who has an amazing ability to change things for a lot of people. This person really makes a positive difference and it is a difference that will last.

Such a person in our community is Beth Raseman. Not only is she a perfect “Citizen of the Year,” but truly could be citizen of the past two decades. Beth has been a tireless volunteer for many activities since she arrived in Barrington—in Fox Point and for Saint Anne Church and Women’s Club and for District 220. I would like to express how important Beth was in her time as a Trustee for the Village of Barrington (2001–2013)—intelligent, thoughtful, hardworking, and dedicated, but more important, she has contributed since the late 1990s in what I like to call her role as the “Builder of Barrington.”

While our friends at Walter E. Smithe say, “You dream it, we build it,” Beth Raseman dreams it, raises the funds for it, and oversees the building of it—always to a successful and beautiful conclusion. Beth is a one-woman army, yet one who knows how to include so many others in her work, always making them integral and important parts of it, so that when the masterpiece is complete, many have the satisfaction of having contributed their time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of the community.

When I think of the lasting gifts to the community that are Saint Anne Church, the Barrington Memorial Park, the Hospice Home and now the Barrington White House, I cannot fathom how any of them would be here as they are now without the vision, effort, determination, and unshakeable faith of the “Builder of Barrington” Beth Raseman.

Kim Duchossois, Friend

I was introduced to “wonder woman” through her work with JourneyCare—yet was initially unfamiliar with Beth’s incredibly full life beyond. It was during the planning and execution of the inaugural outdoor Hospice Gala at my home in 2007 that I became aware Beth was concurrently donning multiple hats as community resident, civic leader, and volunteer. So calm, so understated, so absolutely not about herself, I remember having a quiet heart-to-heart with her about the weight of the plethora of responsibilities, none the least of which included raising her three equally engaged kids. How presumptuous was I, feeling compelled to reassure Beth that life held many years ahead for her to take on (and perhaps better ration) the opportunities she managed to seize and juggle in this particular window of time. She listened…Beth always listens… yet I should have known, her heart was committed to this chosen path. Years have passed and she was right to stay the course. Her exceptional ability to manage so very much of import in enriching other’s lives and facilitating grand efforts in her orbit is crystal clear.

My personal privilege and fondest memory of Beth came later. An unexpected glimpse of her deep connection with something beyond the tangibles and accomplishments in her life was witnessed and brought much joy: While pedaling behind Bob Lee through the Redwoods in California on his Ride for Three Reasons, my revered cycling partner, Beth, felt the majestic giants calling. We of course stopped, hiked in, and watched Beth abruptly drop to the soft pine needle floor, like a child making a snow angel. Lying at the base of the enormous timber, she looked up to the sky, taking in this surreal surround. Beth seemed so humbled, while completely enmeshed amidst the daunting nature and the moment.

Cheryl Laurence, Neighbor

I met Beth in 1989 when she moved in down the street from our family in Fox Point. Beth’s oldest son, John, was part of our carpool to Hillside preschool. Our neighborhood truly is like a village raising our children and our paths began to cross at that point. There are about eight couples in our neighborhood who became especially close. Beth and Steve are often the first to offer their home as a gathering place to celebrate good times. One New Year’s Eve, spent dancing to the Rolling Stones in their kitchen, is one of my favorite memories. When times are difficult she has given friends a place to stay for months if needed, organized a blood drive for another, organized meals for ill or distressed friends, and always has an ear for your problems. If Beth can’t help you, she will find someone who can. Beth’s friends are varied and strong. She really works to stay connected to others. While working demanding jobs for our village, she and Steve have raised three great kids, who are giving just as their parents have and making the world a better place.

As is custom, my neighborhood girlfriends kidnapped me for a significant birthday and this was soon after Beth’s first election as trustee. She spent time that weekend studying for her new role while we watched a crazy movie together. We were unanimously confused as to why she would choose to take on such a time-consuming, controversial, and oftentimes thankless position at a time most of us were juggling motherhood, jobs, and volunteering at school or church. It took a while, but I am so glad she took this first step toward creating a “new” Barrington.

Bob Lee, Friend

In this year of 2015, we are honoring our past and looking to our future. How appropriate and fitting it is to see Beth recognized as the Quintessential Person for her past and present efforts to not only build our community, but also leave a legacy for our future.

Beth has shown a deep commitment to her family, faith, friends, and community. She is a fundraiser extraordinaire with vision, passion, and a “can do” attitude. Beth was one of the most impactful people when Saint Anne Church was renovated, as JourneyCare was being built, as Memorial Park was being designed, and now leading the way with the renovation of Barrington’s White House. Beth has faithfully devoted herself to this project in her usual positive and proactive manner, with endless energy and enthusiasm, with great passion and purpose, and with great joy in knowing what a gift this is to our community going forward. A good thought—consider making a donation to the White House in Beth’s honor to say “thank you” for her dedication and effort.

On a personal note, for two years, Beth was my confidant and fundraising mentor for my bike ride, A Ride For 3 Reasons, which raised $890,000 in 2012 for three charities. Beth remained steadfast in her support and advice and was always patient, reliable, and fun to work with. I was honored to have Beth join me for a week during the RIDE where she demonstrated her adventurous and determined spirit along with a very refreshing sense of humor. She is a delight to know, and I am grateful for her friendship.

Susan McConnell, Colleague

Beth and I have worked on many projects together, including JourneyCare and now Barrington’s White House. When I think of Beth, I imagine her with a hardhat on and a smile on her face. She always sees the good in things and knows there’s a silver lining, even if it’s hidden. What she’s best at is overseeing a complex situation and prioritizing what needs attention. The Barrington’s White House project had a million balls in the air, every single day, and Beth quietly, consistently, and constantly evaluated and managed it every step of the way.

Ann McSorley, friend

I have known Beth for 25 years. We have been connected with each other through kids, church, and Notre Dame. During a difficult pregnancy, Beth came to my rescue. She not only cared for my older children, but organized meal deliveries. While working with Hospice of Northeastern Illinois, now known as JourneyCare, Beth reached out to me to become involved with the organization and I will always be grateful for that. Throughout the years, Beth has been fearless, confident, and oh-so enthusiastic with everything she has been involved with, including the White House project. I will always be grateful that I have Beth in my life.

Carol and David Nelson, Friends

We have known Beth ever since she became a trustee in the Village of Barrington, and since first getting acquainted, our paths have criss-crossed many times on many projects, and now we are not only colleagues, but fast friends.

Our first impression of Beth was one of complete competence, and all these many years later, that is one of her strongest suits. Whatever project she tackles, wherever her current interest lies, she will handle it thoroughly and passionately. And if you are on her project team, you know you can count on her completely. She will not let you down. And perhaps this is why her name is associated with so many successful projects in our little Village—Saint Anne Church, Memorial Park, Pepper Family Center for Care, Barrington White House. One can only imagine, “What’s next?”

Beth and Steve have contributed in so many ways to our community, not the least of which is their three accomplished children, John, Amy, and Billy—all fine young people, taking in the strong lessons of their parents and doing their own good deeds.

Mary S. Smith, Colleague

I first met Beth when the Hospice Home was being designed and built here in Barrington. Since the summer of 2013, Beth and I have been working together on Barrington’s White House project. The one thing that stands out when thinking of Beth Raseman is her own immensely “giving” heart. Beth loves her family. For many years Barrington itself has been the recipient of her kindnesses, which have come without fanfare or limelight…until now.

Because of her steady hand, reasonable and personable manner, and optimistic personality, the million different details of her projects have always been pulled together and presented in workable fashion. Beth’s hands-on approach and leadership have been magical for many years.

Beth’s laugh is mostly silent, but her face tells its own story when a good tale’s being told. Good music? She’ll be on the dance floor before you can get out of your chair; and count on her to be packed and ready to go anywhere.

George J. Yapp, colleague

I have known Beth for over 15 years, both in a business and a social environment. We worked together at Hospice for the majority of this time where Beth served as V.P. of the JourneyCare Foundation, and was instrumental in raising $18.5 million for the new Hospice Home, which has benefitted a large number of families in our area. Beth has a history of being involved in many important community activities, providing leadership and achievements that have had an important and meaningful impact on behalf of our Village and its citizens. She was a Village Trustee for a number of years, providing leadership and discharging her responsibilities in a broad range of important assignments. She is now spearheading the efforts to raise money to transform the White House into a community center to be used and enjoyed by many in our community.

What is the common thread in all of these activities? It is Beth’s commitment, through her ability to help energize citizen talents and treasure, to improve our community. Her unrelenting energy, focus, and skill creates excitement and translates ideas into reality for the benefit of our community.

Beth is a great person with a wonderful family, a winner of the BADC “Citizen of the Year” in 2015, and a truly Quintessential Person for all times!

Judy Masterson is a longtime Lake County resident and writer who enjoyed a two-decade career as a journalist and now specializes in marketing and communications.

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Publisher’s Note: Quintessential People™ is a heartfelt collaboration between our publication and portrait artist Thomas Balsamo. Our goal is to share exceptional images and words that ring true about some of the finest, most inspiring people in our community. For more information, contact QB at publisher@qbarrington.com, or Thomas Balsamo (Portraits By Thomas) at 847-381-7710, or visit www.portraitsbythomas.com.