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Updated: Nov 16, 2022

John Sonderegger's daily mission is to help others make the most of their lives. His work with FamilyForward illustrated this philosophy of giving and serving.

John Sonderegger is making the most of life and his daily mission is to help others do the same. For decades he has taken on volunteer leadership roles with a variety of nonprofit organizations, mainly in the Arlington Heights area. And the community is all the better for it.

Recently retired from serving on the FamilyForward Board of Directors, Sonderegger contributed greatly to the organization’s direction and development. He first learned about this organization through his church, First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights, where he is a longtime member. Back in 2003, First Pres was one of several organizations that worked together to establish Faith Community Homes (now known as FamilyForward). Sonderegger’s interest in FCH/FF grew as he learned more about its mission to help low-income families rise above poverty. In 2007, Sonderegger was elected to the FCH/FF board. He agreed to serve because, “I was drawn by the mission of FCH/FF, its involvement in the local community, its small size.”

FamilyForward is fortunate to have had Sonderegger on its team. “I have enjoyed my role as kind of an elder statesman whose knowledge gained from life experiences helps keep FamilyForward moving forward in a positive way.” He welcomed the opportunity to serve FCH/FF, drawing on the wisdom gained from a successful career and deep experience helping several other organizations. Some of these have included supporting his church and its local and international missions; serving on the alumni association board of his alma mater, Drake University; and spending time as chair of the board of trustees for the NCH Foundation at Northwest Community Hospital.

A knack for fundraising

Sonderegger most recently served on the Marketing and Communications Committee for FamilyForward. He served on several other committees as well, since 2007, and tended to gravitate toward roles that best used his talents. An accountant by education, he enjoys writing, planning and problem solving. Very often, he was called to exercise his gift for raising money. “Somehow, I have fooled people into thinking I know something about fundraising,” he comments, with his usual dry wit.

He sees the impact FCH/FF makes in the larger community and hopes the generosity he strives for is contagious. “I want to believe that our gifts to FCH/FF have served to encourage friends to do the same.” Sonderegger’s dedication and often-used talent for fundraising have made significant contributions to the organizations he has served, including FamilyForward.

Expanding perspectives

Sonderegger’s ideas about success have expanded over the years. Looking back and employing his typical rational perspective, he sees a logical and fulfilling progression. First came his long career culminating in an executive role at the former International Minerals & Chemical Corporation. Once retired, he shifted focus to serving the community.

Supporting nonprofits including FamilyForward has enriched Sonderegger’s life in an important way. “I have thought of my work career as having provided for the material well-being of family. It’s the taking care of the body. Sharing a significant portion of that material well-being serves to satisfy the soul.”

Sonderegger continues to appreciate the difference FCH/FF makes in the community. “I find it most gratifying to observe how individuals have improved their lives after ‘graduating’ from the two-year family program. Their financial house is in order. They have learned new skills that have led to better income-producing jobs.” He is optimistic for the future of FamilyForward and its ability to help struggling families by empowering them to discover, strengthen, and use their gifts to build a better life. After all, Sonderegger’s goal is to help others make the most of their lives, just as he has done.


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