Skip to main content

Neighbors of DuPage

Steve Hiatt nominated Darien 2017 Citizen of the Year

Feb 27, 2017 11:39AM ● By Ben Scott

On one of the very coldest days so far in January, the Citizen of the Year Committee headed out to ring the doorbell of our nominee. We probably should not have been surprised when we approached our nominee’s home to discover our candidate’s driveway loaded with cars. Given all the activities our nominee participates in, we feared there might be a meeting at this house and wondered if we had to divert our plan to another day! As we drove back and forth and up and down the street, we parked in front of our nominee’s house. Finally, one of our committee members rang the doorbell to discover it was a family “meeting” and the coast was clear for the rest of us to join and ring the doorbell officially. Our nominee’s first response was “no way…I am humbled by this recognition…to be put in a category of all those honored before me, I take with great pride in the consideration.” With tears welling in his eyes and cheers from his family members, our nominee accepted. A quote by John Bunyan describes his service accolades perfectly: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Therefore, it is with great pride that the Citizen of the Year Committee submits to the Darien City Council the name of Steven Hiatt as our choice for the 2017 Citizen of the Year.

When asked why he does all he does, it was a simple answer. “Look at all the wonderful people I do these things with. We are all family…no matter what our outside opinions are, no matter whose side we are on…when there is a cause, we put everything aside, come together and do the task at hand for the good of others. It’s all about giving.”

The multiple nominations that the committee received for Steve all had one thing in common: he gives. From the time he moved into Darien in 1998 he became part of the city’s activities. In 2003, he became a member of our city’s valued Darien Lions Club. Jumping in with both feet, over the years he has served and chaired on many of the popular committees: Candy Day, Pancake Breakfast and Meeting and Meals. He has served the Lions Club in the capacity of past president, corresponding secretary, financial secretary and treasurer. In 2012, he served as president. This year he will chair the Lions Club golf outing. To continue the monetary growth of the Lions Club Foundation, he instituted the American Flag Holiday Program, his own initiative. Darien citizens can purchase an annual membership in the American Flag Program which entitles them to have our nation’s flag placed on their front lawns on five holidays throughout the year—Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Veterans Day. Steve coordinates with other volunteers the posting, retiring and the storage of the flags each holiday. All funds from this program go directly to the Lions Club Foundation which in turns gives back to the community. In 2013, Steve was honored as a Darien Lions Foundation Fellowship recipient.

Steve has been a liaison with the Chamber of Commerce for recruiting volunteers and working in various areas for DarienFest. He has also been a committed volunteer for the last several Darien Dash 5k races sponsored by the Darien Chamber of Commerce. Steve’s cooperation with the Darien Police Department to create a more efficient, financially beneficial running course was very time consuming and well received. He gave his time to the course setup and takedown using his own equipment and even recruited volunteers to help. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Darien Historical Society and assists with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church’s Food Drive that provides food baskets to over 600 families over the holidays and Toys for Joy that collects and distributes over a thousand toys to the needy. A quote from Mahatma Gandhi reads ”The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in giving to others.”

Steve and his wife of 17 years, Kathie moved to Darien in 1998. They are parents to Richard, Kevin and Dan. Richard and his wife, Diana, have a son, Ryder that keeps grandma and grandpa busy and gleaming with pride. Steve and Kathie became legally state approved foster parents to Kevin in 2008. They have impacted Kevin’s life with love, patience and guidance allowing him to go on and become a successful young man. Kevin has achieved a degree in architecture from the University of Illinois and works in Hoffman Estates. Steve is very active in the Lions Club sponsorship of the Giant Steps School for autistic children and young adults. He has been a giving participant of the Giant Steps School for many years by working the food tables, manning the barbeque pits, aiding security and getting others to volunteer at this annual event held in the Village of Lisle. Their son, Dan has autism, but through their caring, time and compassion, Dan has gone on to succeed. Dan is a proud graduate of Downers Grove South High School where he participated on a championship football team, was an active member of clubs and where his talents were brought to light for him to excel. Steve doesn’t see this as a challenge but rather as a banner to extol the possibilities of what can be accomplished when you personally get involved. As a nominator stated, ”Steve has made a difference not only in his own family but also to the hundreds of families in the surrounding communities in the same situation. Some people show their support to the community with money—Steve lives what he believes with sweat and tears.” Additionally, Steve has been employed by Kronos, a software company for time management for 34 years.

As Anne Frank wrote, ”No one has ever become poor by giving.”

This past fall, Steve was featured in the Neighbors of Darien publication. His spirit of volunteerism landed him on the front cover. The article highlighted what he terms as his “social responsibilities” to the city and his inspiration for others to get involved. It also gave claim to his two passions: classic guitar playing and “Bluella,” his vintage 1966 baby blue Cadillac. And as one nomination noted..”Don’t forget the ubiquitous Panama hat.” Even through heart bypass surgery this past summer, he was only sidelined for a few weeks. Nothing slows him down.

His nominees state “Steve Hiatt is passionate about giving back to his community.” Many people talk about it, Steve lives it. Between his dedication to making Darien a “Nice Place to Live” through various clubs and activities, to his untiring commitment to assisting others, not just financially, but with boots on the ground, there is one more ultimate giving sacrifice he has done. He is a kidney donor.

Steve Hiatt is the poster child for what a Citizen of the Year should be.

By city ordinance, our guidelines for selecting the Citizen of the Year are diversity of activities, length of service, degree of involvement in the community and impact to the City. Steven certainly satisfies all these categories and then some.

Leo Buscaglia stated: “It’s not enough to have lived. We should determine to live for something.”

Indeed, Steve has lived for something and continues to find something more each day.

City Council, we present to you, Steven Hiatt as our choice for the Darien 2017 Citizen of the Year.

Respectfully submitted,

The Darien Citizen of the Year Committee