Top 10 Hope-Filled Moments in 2018

2018 was a big year at Center for Independent Futures! From fun and glamorous events like SPARK to meeting new people at conferences around the country, this last year held a lot to be celebrated. Join us in remembering our top 10 moments of 2018!

#1: New Partnerships in CaliforniaLogo for Club 21 in red with blue and green people illustrations to the left.

Club 21, a California non-profit, asked us to present at their Tools For the Journey conference. It was exciting to get out of the chilly Midwest for a few days to share our tools & resources with the Club 21 community.

#2: Hosting Activities in Highland Park

We conducted a meet and greet session with Highland Park community members in March. Since then, we have started including the village in our activities calendar through monthly Gab and Grub dinners. It is exciting to meet members of new communities, and we can’t wait to continue!

#3: A Beautiful Evening at SPARK

5 friends dressed beautifully pose for group photo at SPARK.

In April, our annual gala event was a shining evening! Join us again this year on April 26th at the Hilton Orrington! We will have more live entertainment, the annual Awesome Awards, delicious food, and wonderful auction items for all.

#4: Dream Team Biked the Drive

A group of Bike Club members participated in Bike the Drive again this year! They raised almost $7,000 through their fundraising efforts and had a good time biking in the cloudy weather. We can’t wait for next May to ride Lake Shore Drive again!

#5: Presented at National Down Syndrome Conference

Chrissy & Cynthia at the National Down Syndrome ConferenceChrissy & Cynthia went down to Dallas, Texas, in July to present at the National Down Syndrome Conference. They rocked the presentation and made new connections! We appreciated having this opportunity to present to industry experts and families alike.

#6: Held 2 Summer Camp Options for Transition House Students

Our schools team hosted the annual Life Skills Camp in mid-July, in addition to a new summer camp opportunity. Thanks to the Evanston Community Foundation, we were able to provide a Transportation Camp for Evanston Township High School transition students.

#7: Guided Biggest Marathon Team Through Finish Line

On a rainy Sunday, 18 members of Team CIF completed one of the greatest challenges: completing 26.2 miles throughout the neighborhoods of Chicago. Thanks to our community and team, we raised over $16,000 through the Bank of America Chicago Marathon!

#8: Created Community Connections at Housing Conference

At our housing conference in October, we shared our New Futures Initiative and housing resources with over 100 people dedicated to change. We are thankful for each of our presenters, including our panelists, endnote speaker, and keynote speaker, Micaela Connery of The Kelsey. Watch for video of the day coming soon!

#9: Delicious Food & Good Times at Something’s Cooking

We ate to our hearts’ content at the Woman’s Club of Evanston in early November. Thank you to the 25 wonderful food, dessert, and beverage sponsors for supporting our annual fall favorite! We hope to see you all next year!

#10: Turned Hopes Into Reality on #GivingTuesday

Thanks to all of you, we surpassed our $20,000 #GivingTuesday goal! We also met the requirements to receive the full $10,000 match from the Coleman Foundation. That means we raised a total of over $34,000 with your help!

We are deeply grateful for our caring, generous community after such a big year! 2019 looks like it will be even bigger, so we hope that you will continue on this journey with Center for Independent Futures. If you would like to be part of our story, sign up for our monthly newsletter today and make a year-end gift to support inclusive communities in Evanston!

New & Exciting Program at SPACE!

At Center for Independent Futures, the most important part of what we do is community. By building personal networks throughout the community, new opportunities for partnership pop up every year. In 2019, there is a new opportunity we want to share with all of you!

SPACE, an Evanston live music hall and recording studio, created a brand new community support program for 2019! More information will be available in the coming weeks. From January 1 to March 31, your visit to SPACE or evanstonspace.com can support Center for Independent Futures.

How To Participate in the New Program

Throughout the first quarter of the year, there will be 3 ways to donate to Center for Independent Futures through SPACE. Two options are through online giving, while the final option you can choose to participate in at the venue. This post will be updated when more information is available!

About Live Music Venue SPACE

SPACE has welcomed thousands of local and national touring acts to the stage, including The Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, Graham Parker, and many more. SPACE has earned distinction on the best venue lists of DownBeat Magazine, 93XRT, Chicago Tribune. Now approaching their 10th anniversary, SPACE hopes to continue a decade-long tradition of serving Evanston through a wide variety of concerts and community events.

5 Wonderful Reasons To Give For Independent Futures

As the holiday season approaches, we are reflecting on a year of growth at Center for Independent Futures. Looking back on the year, we want to thank each of you for your support and suggest five reasons to add us to your year-end giving. Thanks to community members like you, the lives of more individuals with disabilities have been enriched and the reach of our community has expanded.

#1: We Combat Isolation & Exclusion

Individuals with disabilities face social isolation at a much higher rate than others. Through our Change Champions project, we partner with public and private organizations like public libraries and YMCAs to create cultures of inclusion. Over the last year, this program has introduced several community institutions to the strengths that individuals with disabilities bring to the table.

#2: We Bring Innovation into Classrooms through My Full Life™ 

woman leaning over to help student at a computerWe dream of a future where all individuals can share their gifts with the community of their choice. My Full Life™ is our innovative online solution to help teachers identify how students can reach their goals. With your continued commitment, educators access our innovative online curriculum to train life skills and identify the strengths individuals can bring into their communities.

#3: Our New Futures Initiative™ Brings Hope to Hundreds

Challenges concerning housing and independent living support persist for individuals with disabilities everywhere. Our family-guided New Futures Initiative™ housing approach gives hope to groups across the country. From California to Canada, you help us make a difference in hundreds of lives.

#4: We Strive to Fill the Gap

In the state of Illinois, opportunities for people with disabilities continue to be underfunded year after year. The need for community-based solutions is greater than ever. With your help, we hope to help fill the gap that is created by diminishing state funding. Our robust activities and events calendar provides support for individuals with a variety of interests, including our whole community.

#5: We Are Committed to Person-Centered Solutions

Since our founding in 2002, Center for Independent Futures has been focused on the individual. We have always started at square one by asking each participant, “What are your hopes & dreams?” Thanks to supporters like you, we continue to be leaders in person-centered approaches today.

Adam poses with friends he has made through Center for Independent Futures

We have a lot to look forward to in 2019, including welcoming more family groups to New Futures Initiative training and sharing My Full Life™ with more schools and agencies throughout the country. We are dedicated to helping families live with greater peace of mind and sharing our resources with community leaders. With such a big year coming up, we know we will need your help. Please consider making a year-end contribution to Center for Independent Futures today.

#GivingTuesday and #ILGive a Success!

At Center for Independent Futures, we feel honored to be part of such a generous community, especially after #GivingTuesday and #ILGive! Because of each of you spreading the word and donating, we were able to surpass our donation goals!

#GivingTuesday and #ILGive

Giving Tuesday image of woman laughing in purple striped shirtOn Tuesday, November 27th, countries around the world celebrated #GivingTuesday. In Illinois, we also participate in #ILGive, an initiative from Forefront that hopes to show Illinois is one of the most generous states in America. This year was a big year for their #ILGive project: registered Illinois nonprofits raised $1,720,107 in just 24 hours from 6,902 donors!

While #GivingTuesday was a very big day for nonprofits across the world, it was also a huge success for Center for Independent Futures. Our community helped us raise $24,038 from just under 100 contributors! We not only surpassed our $20,000 goal – we also raised about $8,000 more than we have in previous years.

The funds raised through #GivingTuesday contribute to the services and activities we are able to provide to our participants, like heARTwords, where members are encouraged to express themselves through writing prompts. Activities and services like heARTwords provide a sense of community to this community that too often feels lonely and excluded. Your support truly makes a difference and helps us continue providing a sense of belonging to our participants.

Matching Grant for #GivingTuesday

Man smiling in a baseball cap with bracelets on with #GivingTuesday and #ILGive imageryAs if raising more than $24,000 in one day wasn’t exciting enough, we were also offered a matching grant opportunity. For every donation of $175 or more, we received an additional $175 thanks to the Coleman Foundation. As a result, Center for Independent Futures will receive an additional $10,000!

With your help, we raised a total of $34,038 on November 27th! That makes this year our most successful #GivingTuesday yet, and it is all thanks to you, our wonderful community. We cannot thank you enough for your generosity during this giving season.

There Is Still Time To Give!

Did you forget to give on #GivingTuesday and #ILGive? That’s okay! There is still time to give this year. If you want to make a year-end gift to Center for Independent Futures, please contact Niki Moe Horrell or call our office at (847) 328-2044.

Jonathan’s Jolly Old Trip to England & Ireland, Part Two

Jonathan Shuman is a young man who loves to travel the world. He sees the world in a positive, friendly way, and he wants to share his experiences with all of you. This is part two of three in Jonathan’s new travel series – catch up on part one here!

a busy Temple Bar in Dublin, IrelandThe day after we hiked to Glendalough, we took a stroll of the Temple Bar district in Dublin, Ireland. We also took a tour of the Wall of Fame where famous Irish musicians held their place in the Irish music industry such as U2, Thin Lizzy, Enya, Sinead O’Connor, The Corrs, and Celtic Woman. We also ate dinner in an Irish restaurant and we listened to traditional Irish music. One of my favorite Irish foods that I ate in Ireland was the traditional Irish breakfast which consisted of an egg, blood sausages, 2 pork sausage links, mushrooms, ham, bacon, and roasted tomato. Another favorite food that I tried in Ireland was the fish and chips, which is beer battered cod fish with chips – or as the Americans call them, French fries.

The next day, we flew from Dublin, Ireland, to London, England, via Aer Lingus airlines. When we arrived at London Heathrow Airport, we took a shuttle bus to the Holiday Inn Express hotel located in Stratford, London, England. The first thing we did in London was we went to Westminster Abbey. It was closed to the public unfortunately.Jonathan and his friend, Ross, outside of Windsor Castle

The next day, we took a shuttle bus and we traveled to Stonehenge in England. Stonehenge is a collection of Neolithic stones that the Druids constructed. The Druids were a Celtic tribe that practiced an earlier form of Christianity. We also learned what life was like during the construction of Stonehenge. For example, people had to live in huts. They didn’t have the technology to move the stones, so they moved the stones by their hands. After Stonehenge, we went to Windsor Castle where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spent their honeymoon.

Westminster Abbey when it was closed to the public.

The next day, we went to Buckingham Palace and we saw the changing of the guards. We didn’t actually see Queen Elizabeth II – maybe because she was busy doing something else. After the changing of the guards, we took a tour of the interiors of Buckingham Palace. We also went back to Westminster Abbey, and we saw the interiors of Westminster Abbey this time.

Watch for the third installment of Jonathan’s travel series to learn about the Tower of London and discover his recommendations for England and Ireland!

Something’s Cooking Celebration Highlights

5 volunteers smile at camera with orange table in foreground at Something's Cooking celebrationThank you to everyone who came to support Center for Independent Futures at our sixteenth annual Something’s Cooking celebration! From the music to the laughter – and, of course, the food – we enjoyed every last minute of the evening, thanks to all of you.

Wonderful Space and Support

This year’s fundraiser was our second being hosted by the Woman’s Club of Evanston. Their beautiful, historic building kept us sheltered from the rainy weather outside and made the evening a definite success. We couldn’t have had such a wonderful evening without the help of their amazing staff!

Exciting Prizes to Take Home

Board member and a volunteer draw names for raffle on stage at Something's Cooking celebrationInstead of a silent auction, we held a raffle this year, featuring eight grand prizes. From hand-painted Adirondack chairs and brand new bicycle to a weeklong stay at a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains, these raffle prizes were items we definitely wished we could take home ourselves! After all, there’s nothing like a great Cubs game in Chicago or a relaxing, therapeutic care package.

Congratulations to each of the fabulous winners! Of course, thank you to the support of all who purchased raffle tickets to play along with us on Sunday as well. Your support never goes unnoticed!

Good Food and Great Company

Celtic Knot Public House employees serving food and waving at cameraLast, but certainly not least, we want to thank all of our phenomenal restaurant, beverage, and dessert sponsors. Something’s Cooking could not happen without all of you donating your delicious food, drinks, and time.

Did you miss Something’s Cooking? Check out what these restaurants provided below, and make sure to mark your calendars early next year!

See You Next Year!

We are already looking forward to next year’s Something’s Cooking celebration when we get to spend another lovely Sunday afternoon with our favorite people! For now, we are getting ready for #GivingTuesday and helping our community give back. To join us, learn more at bit.ly/CIF2018GT.

Restaurant List

Bagel Art Cafe: Assorted Bagel Bites

Celtic Knot Public House: Mini Shepherd Pie

Edzo’s Burger Shop: Nutella Shakes

Farmhouse: Baked Mac-n-Cheese

Firehouse Grill: Burger Bites, Veggie Sloppy Joe’s, Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Flat Top Grill: Chilled Edamame, Pot Stickers

Gigio’s Pizzeria: Sausage, cheese, and veggie pizzas

Koi: Vegetable Maki with Mango Sauce

La Macchina Cafe: Vegetarian and Meat Lasagnas

Lulu’s: Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles

Peckish Pig: Bacon Wrapped Dates

Table to Stix: Truffle Pecorino Smoke Pickle Onion Salmon

Taco Diablo: Corn Esquite with Queso Fresco and Chilipiquin

Ten Mile House: Vegetarian Mediterranean Bruschetta

That Little Mexican Cafe: Shrimp Empanadas, Pork Taquitos

Trattoria D.O.C.: Orecchiette con Spinaci

Join Chicago Marathon Team – 5 FAQ

A Team CIF runner smiling on the Chicago Marathon course 2018On October 13, 2019, thousands of dedicated runners will line up at Grant Park, ready to take on the Chicago Marathon course. Out of the thousands of runners, there are hundreds of generous marathon participants who sign up for guaranteed entry by choosing to support a charity team.

We have put together a frequently asked questions blog about our Chicago Marathon team. If you’ve ever thought about running a marathon — or know someone else who has — take a look! Even if this opportunity isn’t for you, please help us spread the word! Forward this blog to your friends, family, and coworkers to let them know about this chance to be part of a Chicago tradition.

What is the Chicago Marathon?

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is an opportunity for runners around the world to achieve a remarkable feat: running 26.2 miles through many of Chicago’s unique neighborhoods. Runners sign up in late October and November, and then they train hard to complete the course in under 6.5 hours.

Can My Family and Friends Watch Me Run?

Of course! There is room for spectators along the whole course, but Mile 15 is really where the party’s at. At Mile 15, there is the Charity Block Party, where cheerleaders from charity partners like Center for Independent Futures will be waiting to cheer on our team — and all the other runners, of course! Your friends and family are always welcome to join us at the block party!

What Are the Team Requirements?

At Center for Independent Futures, we only ask that our Team CIF runners meet the minimum fundraising amount required by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon organizers. That means each runner will be asked to raise $1,250 to support the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities.

What Team Supports Do You Offer?

When you join Team CIF, you are becoming part of a community. We will help you every step of the way from working on individualized fundraising ideas to helping you remember important steps. Plus, you will have the chance to join the Chicago Area Runners Association at a discounted rate because you are running with us.

How Do I Sign Up?!

It’s easy! Just email team coordinator Connor Larsen and let her know you want to join the team! She will walk you through the two-step registration process and make sure you are registered to the team. Then Connor will help you get set up with fundraising tools and training tips throughout the following year to make your Chicago Marathon course successful. Don’t wait to claim your spot – there are only 15 left!

Jonathan’s Jolly Old Trip to England & Ireland, Part 1

Jonathan Shuman is a young man who loves to travel the world. He sees the world in a positive, friendly way, and he wants to share his experiences with all of you. This is part one of three in Jonathan’s new travel series,

Jonathan standing in front of a rock at Berkshire National ParkMy name is Jonathan Shuman. I’m 29 years old. I live independently in the Chicagoland area. I currently work as an office assistant at an architecture firm called Solomon Cordwell Buenz in downtown Chicago. I’m a huge fan of world travel. Some of the places in the world that I’ve been to include Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, St. Martin, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, France, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden. Today, I want to share my experiences from my recent trip to England and Ireland with Search Beyond Adventures.

On Thursday, September 20, 2018, my mother Joelle picked me up at Photo of Aberdeen Lodge with large garden surrounding circular signHarrison House in Evanston, Illinois to take me to Chicago O’Hare International Airport where I would meet the tour guide and new group of friends that I would be traveling with for the next 9 days. It was a normal flight and our flight from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland lasted 6-7 hours long. When we got to Dublin International Airport, we went to the Aberdeen Lodge which is a Victorian-style hotel that’s located at Park Avenue in Dublin, Ireland. I was roommates with my new friend David who is from Hastings, Minnesota.

When we were in Dublin, Ireland, we did lots of fun stuff. We went to places such as St. Stephen’s Green and Christ Church Cathedral, which was built at the time that the Tudors ruled England. We also went to the Guinness Brewery and I learned how beer got its name from barley which is used to create beer. I tried a Guinness draught beer, and it tasted very strong.

Image of Wicklow Mountains, green pastures surrounding a lakeThe next morning, we went to the Wicklow Mountains and the Sally Gap and we went to Glendalough, a tiny town in Ireland, which is home to a monastery built by St. Kevin. The monastery is called Sevenchurches. Over the course of its 1,000-year history, it has been raided by the Irish clans, the British, and the Vikings. That same day, we took hikes and we went to a lake located in Glendalough and we watched the sunset. One cool thing that I saw was a tomb that was used as a filming location for a TV show called Vikings starring Alexander Ludwig.

On the next installment of Jonathan’s new travel series, find out who is on the Ireland Wall of Fame and some of Jonathan’s favorite parts of England! Stay tuned!

Opportunities for Continuing Education for Adults

Offering continuing education for adults is important to the growth of an inclusive community. That’s why Center for Independent Futures was proud to offer three opportunities to expand horizons last week. Together, we learned from an expert on sexual education and from individuals with disabilities, creating opportunities for new perspectives.

Changing How “Intelligence” Is Defined

On Sunday, October 21st, we were happy to offer a free screening of Dan Habib’s new film Intelligent Lives. On this crisp autumn day, we gathered with members of the Evanston community and beyond to share how we think of intelligence.

A father and son laugh together. The words "The IQ test told us nothing about my child's potential" are in front of brown background.There are nine different, commonly recognized types of intelligence. These different types range from traditional ideas of intelligence, like mathematical-logical thinking and linguistics. However, this idea also includes types of intelligence like interpersonal and existential intelligences.

Intelligent Lives tackles this idea by following the lives of three individuals with disabilities who have received low IQ test scores, yet they are able to thrive in their full, busy lives. Each of these individuals has a different type of intelligence that helps them succeed. Micah, for example, has high interpersonal intelligence and is great with people; Naieer has spatial intelligence that informs his art.

Many of the film screening attendees shared that they enjoyed the film. One young man left the film and, feeling empowered, he told us, “I could be like Naieer or Micah. I could go to school or live on my own like them.”

Reflecting on Sex Education for People With Disabilities

White letters on blue background says Know More. White text on black background says Stop Sexual Violence.Monday, October 22nd, Susy Woods joined us to discuss sexual education for people with disabilities in two separate workshops. Susy Woods has been a disability advocate for 36 years, serves on the ARC of Ilinois Board, is active in Illinois Imagines, and so much more. Over the course of her long career, she found that both parents and educators needed help figuring out how to include people with disabilities in sex education.

In two workshops, one for parents and the other for educators, Susy discussed real-world examples of sexual violence and the warning signs of sexual abuse. We are grateful that Susy took the time to travel from Springfield and share her knowledge. Stay tuned for video from the workshops!

Last week was a big one here at Center for Independent Futures! We all learned a bunch about intelligence and sexual violence prevention. If you are interested in learning more about either of these events, please email Connor Larsen or call (847) 328-2044.

Creating Housing for People with Disabilities

For our loved ones with disabilities, the future is full of uncertainties around independent living. Center for Independent Futures has made it our mission to help families combat these uncertainties by helping you take the matter into your own hands through our New Futures Initiative™ Training. And, that’s why we host housing conferences featuring disability housing thought leaders from across the country.

Panoramic photo of crowd at conference on housing for people with disabilitiesOn October 12, developers, technology support creators, and architects joined us at National Louis University for Community Partnerships: Creating Housing & Support Options for Individuals with Disabilities. With an audience of over 100 family members and agency professionals, our presenters shared their experience and advice.

What We Learned About Housing for People with Disabilities

Micaela Connery stands at podium presenting to crowd about The Kelsey housing developmentKeynote speaker Micaela Connery came from the Bay Area to tell us about her organization, The Kelsey. Micaela highlighted how she and her colleagues are collaborating with local partners to develop apartments suited for inclusive communities. It is not Micaela’s goal to create housing that is for people with disabilities. Her goal is to create housing options that are inclusive of people with disabilities, where they can become part of the local community.

Other developers in attendance, like Three Oaks Communities from Michigan, are creating similar communities. Three Oaks Communities is creating inclusive developments where people with disabilities can own their home along with other home owners who share a vision for a neighborhood that welcomes people with a variety of capabilities.

Technology Supports Increase Independence

Technology innovators joined the conference this year too. Rest Assured, SimplyHome, and Night Owl Support Systems each gave a brief presentation on how their remote supports work. Each of these systems offers varying levels of independence and oversight. To learn more about these programs, visit their websites.

What to Watch For Next

3 family members from family groups in Coleman Foundation & Clearbrook New Futures Initiative partnership We offered a live stream of this conference for the first time ever! That footage will become available publicly in early 2019. Keep an eye out for the videos on our Facebook and YouTube accounts! And if you want to be the first to know when it’s available, subscribe to our monthly newsletter today!

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