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Know Your Neighbors: Beth Raseman

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Barrington’s latest Citizen of the Year has lent a hand to many organizations in two decades. Her latest project ties them all together. Meet the dedicated servant behind Barrington’s White House.

Beth Raseman, project coordinator of Barrington's White House. (Samantha Ryan photo)

Beth Raseman, project coordinator of Barrington’s White House. (Samantha Ryan photo)

Teth Raseman has lived in her share of cities. Because her father worked in computer retail, Raseman, the oldest of eight children, attended 11 schools from grade school to college. Among the places she and her family called home: Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, Michigan.

“I always had an open mind whenever we moved,” says Raseman. “I had to be ready to put myself out there: make new friends, join organizations, and check out the sites like museums, parks and historical locations. The hardest part was always starting over, especially during high school. But we always made the best of it. With seven siblings, I always had familiar faces wherever I went.”

Raseman finally put down roots 26 years ago, when husband Steve took a job at a division of Motorola. The couple’s three children – John, Amy and Billy – were raised in Barrington, a town they’ve grown to love.
Over the past two decades, Raseman has given a hand to a number of local organizations. She chaired the new church building project at St. Anne Catholic Community, which resulted in a new 1,500-person building and renovations to the parish school. She’s worked on a committee to fundraise and design Barrington Memorial Park, volunteered for Barrington 220 School District, and supported several other organizations.

A former village trustee who served for 12 years, Raseman has been dubbed by peers as the “Builder of Barrington.” Since retiring in 2013 as vice president of development for Journey Care Foundation (formerly Hospice Foundation of Northeastern Illinois), Raseman has become the project coordinator for Barrington’s White House, 145 W. Main St., a new community and cultural center downtown.

Recently opened to the public, the former home underwent a yearlong $6.5 million renovation that included construction, landscaping, restoration and new interior furnishings.

“It’s been a labor of love,” Raseman says.

What is Barrington’s White House?

Barrington’s White House is a historical venue that was built in 1898. The home has had various uses over the years, including as a nursing home and business offices. The renovation project included replacing plumbing and electrical, making it handicapped accessible, adding an elevator, installing new flooring and lighting, and making it energy-efficient.

The first-floor rooms have been restored and can be used separately or together for events or meetings. Caterers can use a commercial kitchen downstairs for cooking or for parties. Most of the second floor is being leased to local nonprofits including the Barrington Area Conservation Trust, Barrington Children’s Charities and Let It Be Us.

In addition, there is a bridal room and an office for volunteers. The top floor is a ballroom with vaulted ceilings that’s capable of hosting large events for up to 150 people. The White House is a self-sustaining business because of weddings and other special events.

What is the White House’s greatest benefit to the community?

The White House adds to the identity of Barrington. It’s a good feeling to be able to restore a historical landmark in the center of town. It’s another tie to our rich history and is a gateway to our historic district. The White House will host a number of events such as weddings, rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, and business and nonprofit meetings and events. It will bring people to town. We also have a cultural committee that’s planning events for the house. On most Thursday nights since opening, the house has hosted artistic exhibits, musical and dance performances, authors and culinary events. These events have been free to the public as part of the opening and Barrington’s 150th anniversary celebration. It will be wonderful to see the synergy it will create once it’s fully operational.

What excites you about volunteer work?

I think there are many great things that can happen when people share ideas to make the community a better place. So many generous people make Barrington a great place to live.

What was your reaction to being named this year’s Citizen of the Year by the Barrington Area Development Council?

I was very humbled. Juggling everything isn’t easy; it takes a family. I couldn’t do these things without the support of my husband and children. There have been a lot of late-night meetings and family times that I’ve had to give up. I’m lucky that my kids have really supported what I’ve done, and now I see them giving back.
There are many unsung heroes in the community. I know a lot of people who have won the award in the past – Richard and Roxy Pepper, Kim Duchossois and Pat Karon. These are people who’ve been very generous in their giving to the community. This is a group of people I truly respect.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I love to travel. My family makes fun of me because on vacation I take pictures of buildings, architecture, parks and restaurants – and not that many pictures of the actual vacation. I think from moving so many times in my life, I’ve been exposed to several different experiences. I recently came back from Breckenridge, Colo. There are incredible things going on there. I always look for neat ideas that would be fun to bring back to Barrington.

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