Funds Raised By New Trier Cross Country Team

For the past couple of years, the New Trier Cross Country boys team has hosted a fundraiser benefitting Center for Independent Futures. For this fundraiser, the team reached out to their families and friends for pledges based on their running. By the end, the team raised $6,023 for full, independent lives!

Why Center for Independent Futures

New Trier Cross Country team holds up New Trier flagDave Wisner has been Head Coach of the Varsity team for twelve years. In that time, many students with intellectual or developmental disabilities have been part of his cross country team. Dave said that the team always benefitted from having a diverse group of students participating, but they wondered what happened to students with disabilities when they aged out of transition programs at age 22.

Team captains Charlie Forbes, Cameron Chang, Graeme Lane, and Luke Wisner looked into where their teammates went after they aged out, and they discovered Center for Independent Futures. Captains discussed options with the team. The team ultimately decided to donate the money they raised to us because we are a local organization, and they can see the direct impact their hard work had in the community.

The funds raised by the boys New Trier cross country team are designated for our scholarship funds. These funds are used to broaden access to our programs, like life skills tutoring, which helps individuals with disabilities live independently in the community.

Matching Donations for Scholarships

Thanks to a major supporter and a longtime believer in Center for Independent Futures, these funds are being met with a matching grant. This generous donor has committed to a $25,000 matching grant for funds earmarked for our scholarship funds. All donations designated for scholarships will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000.

For more information about the New Trier cross country fundraiser or the matching grant, please reach out to Niki Moe by email or at (847) 328-2044.

Evanston Public Library Explores Community

In September, the Evanston Public Library hosted an event called “Human Library,” where people’s lives were the story. At this event, attendees could “check out” a human book and talk with that person about their story for 15-20 minutes. Two members of Center for Independent Futures’ community were available to talk about their lives with the Evanston community.

Learning Differences

Lindsay, one of our participants, was interviewed for “Dear Evanston” by Nina Kavin. Lindsay’s book was titled “Learning Differences,” and she focused on explaining to people how she feels about being someone with a disability. Lindsay says she felt excited to participate, rather than nervous.

Because of Lindsay’s nonverbal learning disability, she says, “I’m not able to read certain cues or body language.” Nina Kavin asked how that affects Lindsay. “It makes me feel overwhelmed and makes me not want to interact with certain people,” Lindsay answered. According to Lindsay, one way to help is to understand how she is feeling and being flexible in their reaction.

Diversity in the Disability Community

Another of our participants, Billy, also participated in this unique library event. Billy is part of the LGBTQ community, and he has recently changed his preferred pronouns to “he/him” or “they/them.” Billy’s story was about showing that people with disabilities are just as diverse as people without!

LGBTQ advocate Sandy“Many people don’t realize people with disabilities can be gay, lesbian, or have other identities. We are not in a box,” Billy says. He chose to participate in the Human Library event because you can never advocate too much, especially when there are misconceptions like that.

One aspect of the event that surprised Billy was the type of questions he was asked. Several people asked why Billy couldn’t continue to be called Sandy – since Sandy can also be a male name. They responded, “I prefer to go by Billy because I picked that name. I think Billy fits me.”

We love having a diverse group of participants at Center for Independent Futures. It makes our community stronger, and it makes each of us aware of the different identities we can each have.

Thank you to the Evanston Public Library for hosting this cool event and for including our community.

Something’s Cooking Features New Evanston Restaurants

Two participants enjoy Something's Cooking with new Evanston restaurants.Have you heard? Something’s Cooking is heating up, and we have a bunch of great additions to this fall favorite! At Something’s Cooking, new Evanston restaurants are participating, plus you can look forward to raffle prizes and live music. Don’t miss this great event at the Woman’s Club of Evanston on Sunday, November 4th from 3:00-6:00.

Something’s Cooking New Evanston Restaurants

This year we have three new participating restaurants or beverage sponsors, and we are excited to welcome them into this fall tradition!

Firehouse Grill is a woodsy restored early 1900s firehouse, serving American standards. Get lunch or dinner seven days a week. With a new owner, a new menu, and new options, you’re in for a good meal.

Taco Diablo gives a respectful nod to Mexican cuisine, rooted in authentic Mexican cooking techniques. They serve traditional moles, freshly made salsas, and tacos in a lively and casual place.

Fruitbelt Sparkling Fruit Tonic is a wholesome, refreshing tonic made with sparkling water, a splash of Michigan fruit juice, a drop of honey, and a sprinkling of aromatic bitters. With only 60 calories and no artificial ingredients, this is delicious on its own or as a mixer.

Raffle and Auction Items Delight

Like always, we will have plenty of prizes to raffle off – and you do not need to be present to win! In addition to the raffle, you have the chance to take home some wonderful bottles of wine through the wine grab.

Beautiful photo of Great Smoky Mountains with orange sunset over mountains covered with evergreen trees.Plus, the event features some amazing auction items, like a 7-night stay at Blue Smoke Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Nights at the cabin typically rent at $196-$346 per night. The cabin is surrounded by spectacular mountain views featuring Mount LeConte and Greenbrier Pinnacle. In the cabin, you will find a pool table, foosball, a vintage arcade game console, and large screen TVs featuring premium movie and sports channels. And if that isn’t enough, there is also a hot tub overlooking the mountains to enjoy after a long hike.

Get Down with Van Go Go

Van Go Go performs under stage lights in front of silhouetted crowd.If you were at Something’s Cooking last year, you probably saw Van Go Go putting on a show for us. Van Go Go is a group of individuals with and without developmental disabilities creating fun, foot stomping music! Come to the Woman’s Club of Evanston to enjoy the music with our wonderful community of supporters.

Buy Something’s Cooking Tickets Now!

Ready to find out what our favorite Something’s Cooking new Evanston restaurants have to offer? Don’t wait any longer! Buy your tickets online today. Tickets are $75, and you can even buy your raffle tickets online. For more information, contact Niki Moe at nmoe@independentfutures.com or (847) 328-2044.

Congratulations to Chicago Marathon Team!

About a year ago, eighteen members of our growing community signed up for the challenge of a lifetime: running the Chicago Marathon. On Sunday, October 7th, our charity team completed this challenge, bringing home their medals and accomplishments. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team raises funds for their respective charities in return for guaranteed entry to the race, and Team CIF did not disappoint!

Race Day Nutrition: Pasta Party

On Friday before the race, we hosted a pasta party for our runners. Courtesy of Olive Garden at Lincolnwood, the runners were able to fill up on pasta, breadsticks, and salad in order to carb load before the big day.

Several members of the marathon team joined us, including some families, and we were joined by staff, Community Builders, and participants as well. We love hosting this pasta party for just this reason. It’s the perfect opportunity for the runners to meet our loving community and see who their fundraising supports.

Charity Block Party Cheer Team

On Sunday, while the team got ready to run, six participants and a few staff members got ready to cheer them on! We set up a tent and made signs for the runners on mile 14 along the Charity Block Party.

As runners passed, we offered them carbs in the form of pretzels and mini bagels, plus sugary energizers like gummy bears. When our team members ran past, we cheered as loud as we could! It was a long, rainy day in Chicago, but we didn’t let that stop us from supporting our wonderful 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team!

Still Time to Contribute to Team CIF!

The team set a goal of raising $1,000 per runner, and by Monday morning, they had raised $13,657! That’s 76% of the team’s $18,000 goal! But you can still help push them over the edge. The team has until November 30th to raise the last bit of their funds. You can donate to the team on their CrowdRise page.

We also have one more team fundraiser this week! On Tuesday, October 9th, you can visit Potbelly from 5:00-8:00 to donate 25% of your purchase to Team CIF. All you have to do is go to the Potbelly at 630 Davis St. and tell your cashier you want to support Center for Independent Futures.

Always Wanted to Run a Marathon?

Part of 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team waves as they pass the Charity Block PartyYou’re in luck! Team CIF has been granted another 18 slots for our 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team! We walk our marathon team through each step of the process, including monthly check-ins throughout the year and tools for fundraising. Plus, you get access to our team pasta party, a group of folks cheering you on, and the opportunity to be part of this wonderful community.

Contact Connor Larsen at clarsen@independentfutures.com or (847) 328-2044 to learn more.

Find Out How to Celebrate Giving Tuesday!

Two light-skinned hands holding a red heart against a dark grain wood backgroundDid you know Center for Independent Futures takes part in Giving Tuesday? Find out how to celebrate Giving Tuesday with us this year!

Thanksgiving week is packed with great opportunities to treat yourself these days. Starting with great meals and lots of family time, Thanksgiving kicks off a week of fun. Next, many of us enjoy Black Friday for the deals, and local shoppers celebrate Small Business Saturday. On Monday, we search the web for more deals, and then we can all turn to our community on #GivingTuesday.

How to Celebrate Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, November 27th, we are participating in #GivingTuesday through #ILGive. This is an initiative by Forefront to make Illinois one of the most generous states in the U.S. Donate to Center for Independent Futures on November 27th to show your support for Illinois nonprofits!

With your support, we know we can meet our goal of $20,000 on #GivingTuesday.

Bold word "Give" centered in photo near glasses and pencils. Plus, The Coleman Foundation will donate $175 for every gift of $175 or more! That means that if you donate $175, your gift is worth $350 for Center for Independent Futures. If you donate $500, your gift is worth $675! However, all gifts eligible for the matching dollars must be donated online.

Every dollar donated in honor of independent futures means we can continue to support individuals with disabilities and their full lives. You can help us create a future where individuals with disabilities have equitable access to the opportunities of a full life.

Educators: Join Our New Special Education Resources Group!

Transition coordinators and special education professionals encounter different types of problems in teaching every day. Students with disabilities face different obstacles than their peers. Some of those struggles include advocating for themselves through IEPs and discovering what their next steps will be after high school.

Space to Share Special Education Resources

To help educators navigate these issues, Center for Independent Futures has started a brand new LinkedIn group this week! By joining Special Education: Sharing Ideas & Resources, special education professionals will be entering a community designed to facilitate discussion around topics like these.

Logo for LinkedIn group "Special Education: Sharing Transition Ideas & Resources"This LinkedIn group is open to any and all school staff seeking to create inclusive learning environments for all students, and it can be found in the “featured groups” section of our LinkedIn profile. In this group, we will operate with the understanding that every student deserves access to all opportunities of a full life, regardless of ability, race, gender, or sexuality.  

Our hope is that this group will become a place where educators can brainstorm with other educators and share resources with each other. We will brainstorm discussion topics from time to time, and when we find resources on transition curriculum, IEPs, or classroom inclusion, we will pass those onto all of the group’s members.

When someone joins the group, we don’t want them to hesitate to start discussions about issues. A key step in helping students achieve their hopes and dreams is identifying obstacles and developing plans to address them. Now, educators in this group can apply that strategy to classroom problems they have and crowdsource the solutions!

Find Out More About LinkedIn Group

You can join the group by following this link or by clicking on the group under “featured groups” on our business page. For more information about the group or help joining, email Connor Larsen or call (847) 328-2044.

Honoring Direct Support Professionals Week

Direct Support Professionals fill a vital need in our communities, providing support to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Though these positions are often underpaid and undervalued, this week the state of Illinois is celebrating all those who embark upon this profession.

That’s why the state of Illinois officially named the week of September 9-15 Direct Support Professionals Week! We are happy to honor those who provide essential supports for individuals with disabilities. Our direct service team works hard every day to provide varied levels of support to our participants.

Woman's Club and Center for Independent Futures volunteer to make soup

Unfortunately, Direct Support Professionals are experiencing difficulty staying in positions due to inadequate wages and benefits, leading to high turnover rates and vacant positions. These issues do not only affect the people in these positions; they also affect the individuals they support.

While the governor recently signed into law a 50 cent raise to the direct support professional minimum wage, it isn’t enough! We should all continue to reach out to our representatives and let know direct support professionals deserve a living wage. As we experience critical shortages of Direct Support Professionals, it’s important to show our respect to these professionals.

So, to all Direct Support Professionals: Thank you for your hard work, your empathy, and your service.

Learn About Sexual Violence Prevention from Susy Woods

In the age of the #MeToo movement, it is becoming common to speak out against sexual violence within many industries and communities. Center for Independent Futures supports all who speak up against sexual violence, and we believe it is crucial not to leave out one population that is disproportionately affected by sexual violence – but is often the least heard.

People with disabilities are part of a historically marginalized group who often rely on others for assistance and care. Unfortunately, sometimes the people designated as caretakers or friends take advantage of a lack of sex education for individuals with disabilities.

The following workshops are from Susy Woods. Susy conducts workshops year round about educational rights and sex education for individuals with disabilities. Her previous audiences include Public Health departments and DRS staff, as well as families and agency staff.

Center for Independent Futures Offers Workshops

Flyer for parents’ workshop

Thanks to generous funding from the Woman’s Club of Evanston and the A. Montgomery Ward Foundation, we are offering two workshops on Monday, October 22 at One Rotary Center. The first workshop from 1:00-3:00 pm is for parents of students with disabilities in high school or transition programs. The second workshop is for teachers and agency staff from 4:30-6:30 pm and covers topics like the warning signs of sexual assault and what to teach.

Flyer for school & agency staff workshop

Susy Woods is presenting these workshops to educate families, teachers, and agency staff about sexual violence prevention and how to handle sexual violence accusations. To register for the parent workshop, visit the event page. For school & agency staff, register here. The Rotary Center has very limited seating, so act fast!

Classes for Individuals with Disabilities

Finally, we are offering classes for individuals with disabilities to teach them about self-defense and sexual violence. Many sex education classes exclude people with disabilities, even though this group has the same natural feelings that any other group of adults may feel.

We are offering six classes for women with disabilities, including self-defense classes at Tier 1 Training Center. We will also host six classes for men with disabilities. Led by a male staff member, the class will cover topics including definitions of sexual violence and consent.

We will include these classes on our upcoming activities calendar and added to the online calendar. You can find registration details there as well.

Inclusive Education on Sexual Violence Prevention

We are proud to offer these workshops and classes to the Evanston and North Shore communities. To the Woman’s Club of Evanston, we want to offer our thanks for making these events possible.

Something’s Cooking Features Evanston Restaurants

Photo of two women smiling at Something's Cooking featuring Evanston restaurantsIn two months, Center for Independent Futures’ community will be at the Woman’s Club of Evanston enjoying the culinary standouts in our neighborhood. We are joined by fifteen Evanston restaurants, five local bakeries, and four unique beverage suppliers. Join us from 3-6 pm on Sunday, November 4th to partake in the delectable tastes of Evanston! Get tickets online now!

Our Friendly Little Neighborhood

We are excited to be joined at Something’s Cooking by some neighbors near our office. These Evanston restaurants know us and our program participants, and they support Center for Independent Futures’ mission throughout the year.

Firehouse Grill

This woodsy restored early 1900s firehouse is a restaurant and bar, serving American standards. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch, Firehouse Grill has a new owner, a new menu, and gluten-free menu options. Make sure you try out the new offerings at Something’s Cooking!

Gigio’s Pizzeria

This Evanston staple has been serving the community since 1968, making it the oldest pizza place in Evanston. Gigio’s specializes in New York style thin-crust pizza, and their menu offers burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef & sausages, tacos, burritos, salads, and homemade soups. Gigio’s supports Center for Independent Futures throughout the year with fundraisers and participation in this event.

Table to Stix

Photo of woman with child at past Something's Cooking eventTaking pride in the simple things like great food, service, and atmosphere, Table to Stix Ramen aims to bring all of these important elements to the table with good old-fashioned ramen. Don’t miss the chance to try some of this great Asian cuisine!

Full List of Something’s Cooking Participants:

Bagel Art Cafe

Blind Faith Cafe

Celtic Knot Public House

Edzo’s Burger Shop

Eli’s Cheesecake

Farmhouse

Few Spirits

Firehouse Grill

Flat Top Grill

Fruitbelt Sparking Fruit Tonic

Gigio’s Pizzeria

I Love Sweets

Koi

La Macchina Cafe

Lulu’s & Taco Diablo

Misericordia Hearts & Flour Bakery

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Peckish Pig

Sketchbook Brewing Company

Table to Stix

Temperance Beer Co.

Final Stretch for Marathon Runners

Collection of photos of past runnersOf most common exercises, running can wreak the most havoc on a person’s body. As your feet strike the pavement, the shock of impact travels up your leg, affecting the delicate bones in your feet, putting stress on your knee joints, and invoking pain in your hips.

But that isn’t stopping our team of 18 Chicago Marathon runners. Mile after mile, our team members will be running for the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities who hope for a future where they can live independently. Our runners have been working hard all year to prepare for a 26.2 mile challenge. In the final stretch for marathon runners, they need your support.

Here’s How You Can Help

  • Help the team reach their fundraising goal of $18,000! This is our biggest goal yet, and our runners need your help! Go to CrowdRise and click the big red button on the right side to donate. You can also donate to individual team members by clicking on their name at the bottom of the page.
  • Let our runners know they have your support! If you have run a marathon before, or if you want to share encouragement, let the team know. Reach out to Connor, and she will pass on your words of encouragement to the team. Knowing you appreciate their hard work and dedication may be the boost they need to keep going!
  • Join us at the Charity Mile Block Party! Cheer on the team with Center for Join our support team during the final stretch for runnersIndependent Futures participants, staff, and Board members as our runners pass Mile 15. The Cheer Team enjoys breakfast and camaraderie – let Connor know if you want more information about joining us at the Block Party.

Ready to Join the Support Team?

If you have any questions or ideas about supporting the final stretch for Marathon team, call the office at (847) 328-2044 or email Connor today!

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