Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Festivals, Santa Parades, and Giving Thanks...

We continue to explore and enjoy the plentiful nooks and crannies of the Tenth Judicial Circuit. Holiday celebrations and Santa parades have taken us throughout all five counties. Campaigning, although tiring, offers many opportunities to meet amazing people.

In these days of plenty, many children (and adults) never grasp the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Of course, we go through the motions. "Thank you for our food, our family, our home and our dog, Fluffy", we say. However, few of us realize what it is like to truly be hungry or cold.

For these reasons, it was fitting and appropriate that over the Thanksgiving holiday we had a wonderful opportunity to visit our most cherished campaign supporter in Putnam County, Alma Toedter. Alma has quite a story to tell and we asked her to share it with our children. She also gave us permission to share some of it here.

Alma was born in Renno, Italy, in 1938. During World War II, her parents were in a work camp and she was cared for by relatives. They lived in a barn that had been bombed and was only half standing. She slept on the ground between 2 bales of straw for warmth. Alma told our children that she went to bed hungry and woke up hungry. To survive, they hunted for chestnuts and dandelion roots. Alma showed our kids scars on her arms and legs - scars that resulted from gunshot wounds she suffered as a little girl as she foraged for food. Alma remembers walking for miles on Christmas Day to her Aunt's house, in the winter, with no shoes and only a light jacket. It was worth it, says Alma, because the reward would be a little Christmas gift bag from her Aunt. In it, she would find an apple, some nuts, and a small piece of chocolate that she would cherish for weeks.

Eventually her parents returned home, and through the grace of God they were able to emigrate to the United States and build a better life. Now happily retired from a successful small business, Alma smiles as she tells her story. There is not a hint of bitterness, nor a morsel of regret. She speaks with grace and confidence, most likely born from the understanding that there are few obstacles life could throw her way that she could not overcome. The challenges she faced as a little girl molded her into the wonderful and wise human being she is today.

As a parent, if you look around, you will most likely be acquainted with a person like Alma. If you get the chance, ask that person to talk to your children. It will be an enlightening experience for everybody and will help us all understand the true meaning of "Giving thanks".

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Elks Club

posted by John P. Vespa

Last week I had the pleasure of joining a few of my friends at The Elks Club. We prepared a Thanksgiving feast for the public. In that the kind members of the Club were unaware of my cooking prowess, they allowed me to assist in meal preparation. I have not been notified of any fatalities.

Barbara, Bernice, and many, many others were gracious enough to allow me to help them reach out to those less fortunate. The Elks Club makes a habit of public service and I was glad to be a small part of it. I'll be back.

Please join us for a candidate Meet and Greet...

On Friday, December 4, "Citizens for John Vespa" will host a Meet and Greet at the private home of Christine Schauble. Reservations are required by December 3, 2009.

This will be a light-hearted, festive event and a great opportunity to relax, meet with John and greet old and new friends.

For details please see the flyer below!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Photo of the Week!

Now this is commitment! Campaign supporter and nut sister of mine Karyn Smydra attempts to spread the word to the citizens of Venice, Italy that John Vespa is THE CHOICE for Judge of the Tenth Judicial Circuit!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Honoring our Men and Women Who Serve...

Friday wrapped up a long and meaningful week centered appropriately around honoring our Veterans.

Our families have been touched by military service in many ways. My parents met while officers in the Air Force. My sisters family is a Marine family and they are currently stationed in The Ukraine. John's Dad (pictured at right) served proudly in the Marines during WWII. Both of John's brothers, Judge Joe Vespa (whose judicial seat John is now seeking and pictured below) and his brother Jim, now at rest, served in the Vietnam war.

For these reasons and more, John has always payed close attention to issues affecting Veterans and holds their needs very close to his heart.

Here are John's comments in that regard:

Shortly after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, I, along with several other attorneys formed the Peoria County Bar Association's Legal Assistance To Military People (LAMP) program. This program was developed to provide free legal services for active duty military personnel and their families. In my work as the Director of the LAMP program, I had the opportunity to help many veterans, active duty military, and their families. I have helped many service men and women throughout my career, however, being the Director of the LAMP program afforded me a greater opportunity to reach many more families.

When someone is stationed away from home, the family they leave behind can be vulnerable to creditors, landlords, and ex-spouses, among others. The family suffers from a significantly reduced income and the loss of one if its leaders, as a result of the soldier going away to protect his or her country. This is, obviously, terribly unfair. So, our legislature enacted laws to protect these soldiers and their families.

In that lawyers are especially equipped to handle these matters, they often assist the soldier and the family. Lawyers can protect them from eviction, debt collectors, vengeful ex-spouses, and many other unpleasant events. It has been my distinct pleasure to step up and protect our military on multiple occasions. They are protecting us, in much more serious terms, and I always felt it was the least I could do to assist them, however slightly.

I have prevented foreclosures and other forms of debt collection. I have stopped divorce proceedings and post-divorce proceedings. For instance, there are times when an ex-spouse will attempt to seize this opportunity to gain custody of children. I can and have stopped this. I know how to make the judicial system wait until the soldier comes home and can defend the action him or herself. Our judges are extremely cooperative when it comes to protecting our military. The judge, however, needs to be given the vehicle in which to do this and I stand ready, willing, and able to provide the solution. The law provides a way to protect our soldiers and I take full advantage of that. It is indeed my honor to serve our armed forces in this way.

John and I both feel it is important to pass along our reverence and respect for the military to our children. We educate them at every opportunity about the history of our country and of the thousands of lives lost which has provided us the privileged life as Americans we enjoy today. The Veteran's Day Parade in downtown Peoria is always an exhilarating experience and the ceremonies at the World War II Memorial following offer many teachable moments.

As Judge of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, John will fully enforce the laws that are in place to protect the needs of our Armed Service Men and Women. He will not need any "on the job training" as he is fully fluent in both civil and criminal law and the special needs of the military.

For more photos of our participation in Veteran's Day events throughout the Circuit, please see our Facebook pages here and here.