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Vernon Hills, Ill.—

In conjunction with Kids Against Hunger – Fox Valley, the Winnetka/Northfield Rotary Club, the Volunteer Center in Winnetka, and the Winnetka Community House, over 400 volunteers packed an astounding 100,000 meals for needy children in Nicaragua.

The Winnetka Community House provided the space for this annual food packing event, which has been chaired for the last six years by Heidi Sibert, Landscape Architect and Senior Vice President at James Martin Associates (JMA), a Vernon Hills landscape management company. As a Rotary member, she chairs the committee dedicated to this event, ensuring that all tasks are carried out in the year leading up to the event

Sibert became involved in Rotary seven years ago when she learned about the mission of Rotary International and their efforts to help those in need throughout the world. “We’re very involved in the Winnetka and North Shore communities, and we saw this as a great opportunity to help out with the local chapter,” said Sibert. “The culture at James Martin Associates definitely encourages us to give back.”

Funds were raised through local Winnetka businesses, Rotarians, and the volunteers. James Martin Associates sponsored a table that was staffed by employees and clients, including Sibert. It was a “wonderful team building experience and the day was full of fun and laughter,” Sibert said.

Volunteers ranged from children and teenagers to adults. They worked in 2-hour shifts, packaging foods such as rice, soy, and dried vegetables. At the end of the day, 14 sealed pallets were loaded onto a truck headed to North Carolina where the food was shipped to Nicaragua to feed those in need.

“I can’t say enough about Heidi’s Herculean efforts and attention to every detail to ensure this event provides the volunteers an efficient yet meaningful experience that achieves our ultimate goal of feeding over 100,000 starving individuals,” said Barbara Tubekis, Executive Director at the Volunteer Center. “We sincerely appreciate her and James Martin Associates’ support.”

To get involved in next year’s event, contact [email protected].


About James Martin Associates, Inc.

James Martin Associates, located in Vernon Hills, celebrates over 40 years providing commercial and residential customers with comprehensive snow and landscape management services. The company is an industry leader in commercial snow management and specializes in providing innovative and award winning landscape design, installation and maintenance. For more information about James Martin Associates, please visit www.jamesmartinassociates.com.



Ashley Atkinson-Leon

James Martin Associates


[email protected]

Published in Events


As houses become larger and yards become smaller, the area in which rain can be absorbed has been shrinking in recent years. Homeowners are also incorporating features such as outdoor kitchens, patios, and other outdoor living features that do not necessarily include green space.

While public storm systems are designed to accommodate a certain amount of rain, heavy rainfall can cause the sewers to become overloaded and deposit water back into the property or even into basements and foundations. One way that homeowners have been mitigating this overflow is through the use of rain gardens.

Rain gardens offer a creative and visually appealing way to control rainwater runoff on your property. Some homeowners choose to incorporate native flowers such as blazing star, bee balm, great blue lobelia, and other plants that can tolerate both standing water and long periods of dryness, but a dry streambed is another option that can be used to divert and manage rain water as well. 


One of our clients, whose house was designed by the award-winning DeBaker Design Group, struggled with drainage issues on their property and wanted to incorporate natural features like stones and boulders to help mitigate the runoff. After determining the location of underground utilities, we carved out an area that measured about 3-6’ deep and arranged the underground pipe to discharge excess water into this area.


We then filled in this naturally low area with gravel.


Finally, we carefully arranged a variety of colorful rocks and boulders on the surface, disguising the underground drainage basin. 


Now, rainwater organically flows into this area and holds the water until it can be absorbed into the ground or is evaporated by the sun. This process only takes a few days and does not attract mosquitos or other insects that need at least seven days for their eggs to hatch. Rain gardens can potentially even help with filtering out pollutants in the environment.

Downspouts and sump pumps can be diverted into rain gardens being used as overflow containment areas. The key is to keep water out of your home’s basement and your neighbor’s yard as well.

For those who would like plants incorporated into their rain garden, the graveled area simply needs a layer of soil near the surface that can be planted with specific perennials and shrubs that tolerate wet and dry conditions.


Whether you’d like a dry river streambed or a traditional garden lush with plants, rain gardens can easily and inconspicuously be designed to fit into your existing landscape. Plus, many municipalities offer incentives such as rebates to help offset the cost of installation. Check with your local village for more information.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you incorporate a rain garden into your landscape.