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Helping others was goal of retiring Evergreen Park director

mary ann diehl photo 8 8 Photo by Joe Boyle

Mary Ann Carioto Diehl can be seen in her office on Friday with her favorite painting to her right. She plans to retire as director of the Evergreen Park Office of Citizens’ Services on Aug. 15.

By Joe Boyle

Mary Ann Carioto Diehl always strived to help people.

“I believe in helping out the residents of Evergreen Park,” said Carioto Diehl on Friday. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the senior luncheons or at the village pantry. We have to reach out to them.”

Carioto Diehl made these observations as she closes in on retirement. She has served as the director of the Evergreen Park Office of Citizens’ Services for the past six years. She has worked for the department for 16 years.

Thursday, Aug. 15 will be her final day. Carioto Diehl has a lot of good memories as she recalled her years for the Office of Citizens’ Services during a conversation in her office at the new Community Center, 3450 W. 97th St.

Carioto Diehl has lived in Evergreen Park her whole life. She attended and graduated from St. Bernadette Elementary School and Evergreen Park Community High School.

She had taken some classes at the Southwest Business College, which was once located in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood, and Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

Carioto Diehl was looking for work when she first applied at the Office of Citizens’ Services. She was contacted a few months later.

“I did a little bit of everything in the beginning,” she said. “I got to know a little about all the offices and what is needed to be done.”

Due to her knowledge and versatility, she became the second assistant to Jolene Churak, who was director of the Citizens’ Services Office. When Churak died on Sept. 18, 2013, Carioto Diehl was eventually chosen to take her place.

“Mary Ann is such a nice person,” said Evergreen Park Village Clerk Cathy Aparo. “You know, when Jolene died, Mary Ann had big shoes to fill. Jolene was very gregarious and outgoing. But Mary Ann, on the other hand, is quiet and hard-working. She is a great listener and is very charitable.”

The Office of Citizens’ Services handles more than programs for seniors, which Carioto Diehl said is of great importance. The agency also takes a role planning day trips to local points of interest in the Chicago area and beyond. The agency utilizes the mini-bus service for seniors. The AARP Smart Driving Courses are held at the Community Center under the direction of the Citizens’ Services Office.

Programs for seniors include an exercise class, board games and puzzles. A craft group and adult coloring book sessions are also offered at the Community Center. The office also provides movies to be viewed at the Community Center. Residents can join in the Double Nickel Chorus.

“We also have line dancing classes,” Carioto Diehl said about the sessions for beginners and intermediate levels.

But the program she is deeply attached to is the Village Pantry, which provides for residents who are in need. She said the staff at the Citizens’ Services Office and the Community Center are great to work with and very dedicated.

“When you work with the clients and provide Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets to people in need, it does do your heart good,” she said. “There are more people in need than you think. And we want to help them.”

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said that Carioto Diehl has been a great addition to the village.

“Mary Ann has been wonderful to the village,” Sexton said. “She will be sorely missed and we will continue to try and operate with the same efficiency after Mary Ann is retired.”

Aparo said her strength is her resolve and quiet demeanor.

“She is over there welcoming people and in many times it’s under tough circumstances,” Aparo said. “She treats people with respect and like they are a member of the family. She covers so many things in one day. You have to know what to tell people and she knows so much. Sometimes she has contacts with people we don’t even have. She often works with the police when cooling centers are opened.

“She is a listener and not a talker,” Aparo added. “And I think for that job that is what you have to be. I’m sorry to see her go but you want her to have some time for herself and to enjoy retirement.”

George Peso, chairman of the Evergreen Park Historical Commission, said that Carioto Diehl has been an asset to the community and a pleasure to work with.

“She is very easy-going person but very hard-working,” Peso said. “She is very dedicated. And all I know is that when we asked her for something, she would get it for us. She will be missed.”

As for life in retirement, Carioto Diehl said she has some plans.

“There are some relatives out of state that I want to visit. I have a bucket list of things to do,” she laughed.

But Carioto Diehl said she will not be far away and would like to help out the Citizens’ Services Office in the future. She still has family in the area, including a brother who lives in Worth.

“I tell people it’s not goodbye,” she said. “We will continue to see each other. I’m not going anywhere.”

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