Strengthen Community on #GivingTuesday

After indulging on Thanksgiving, shopping on Black Friday, and searching on Cyber Monday, we celebrate our community on a day of generosity.

Giving Tuesday logoOn #GivingTuesday, November 28, your gift to Center for Independent Futures supports the full lives of individuals with disabilities—and goes much further. Your generosity impacts the communities surrounding our participants: the coworkers, family members, friends, and neighbors that individuals with disabilities interact with every day.

Thanks to the generosity of The Coleman Foundation, your online #GivingTuesday contribution also goes further. If you give $25-$99, the Foundation will add $25 to your gift. If you give $100-$499, $100 will be added, and if you give $500 or more, $500 will be added. If you have questions about this opportunity or how to make your gift, call us at (847) 328-2044.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share stories of how your support creates stronger communities and fuller lives. Last year, our community raised more than $33,000 in 24 hours. With your support, we’ll continue growing our community, this year and every year.

Something’s Cooking Updates a Fall Classic

Two Something's Cooking attendees poseCenter for Independent Futures’ fourteenth annual Something’s Cooking featured a new venue, new entertainment, and new menu items, for an updated version of a fall classic. We are grateful to all who helped make this festive afternoon a success!

Nineteen of the area’s favorite restaurants and bakeries shared their signature dishes. Returning favorites included Koi, Edzo’s Burger Shop, Farmhouse, Peckish Pig, and more. New this year were three restaurants from our block on Davis Street. Yeero Revolution served Greek meatballs and salad on a stick, LuLu’s shared chilled sesame noodles, and Table to Stix Ramen featured tuna tartare. Check out the list below to see the complete menu!

To toast Center for Independent Futures’ fifteenth anniversary, three local breweries and one distillery served samples of their products. FEW Spirits shared their small-batch spirits, while Revolution BrewingSketchbook Brewing Company, and Temperance Beer Co. all poured tastes of different beers.

The afternoon was complete with a dessert display and a silent auction, including Cubs tickets behind home plate, passes to a WXRT Studio X performance, and culinary-themed packages. To finish the event, Van Go Go, a collaborative of musicians with and without developmental disabilities played a lively set of their signature blend of reggae, roots rock, and funk.

Thank you the Woman’s Club of Evanston for hosting this celebration in Something's Cooking attendees happy to taste food from Evanston communitytheir beautiful, historic venue. We’re grateful to the businesses who contributed to our menu and silent auction, to our volunteers for your time and enthusiasm, and to all of our guests who joined us for this celebration.

All funds raised by Something’s Cooking support individuals with disabilities and their families to access to all of the opportunities of a full life. Click here for a complete album of photos from the afternoon!

Something’s Cooking 2017 Menu

Bagel Art Cafe: Bagel Bites
Celtic Knot Public House: Mini Shepherd’s Pie
Edzo’s Burger Shop: Nutella & Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes
Eli’s Cheesecake: Assorted Cheesecakes
Farmhouse: Butternut Squash Soup with Golden Raisin Pesto
Flat Top Grill: Chicken Pot Stickers, Chilled Edamame
Gigio’s Pizzeria: Assorted Pizza
Hearts & Flour Bakery: Cookies and Bars
ILOVESWEETS: Assorted Shortbread Cookies
Koi: Vegetable Maki with Mango Sauce
La Macchina Cafè: Vegetable and Meat Lasagna
LuLu’s: Chilled Sesame Noodles
Nothing Bundt Cakes: Assorted Bundt Cakes
Peckish Pig: Chorizo-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese Dressing
Table to Stix Ramen: Tuna Tartare
That Little Mexican Café: Barbacoa and Pork Tacos
Trattoria D.O.C.: Orecchiette con Spinaci
Yeero Revolution: Greek Meatballs and Salad on a Stick

Join Us: Volunteer at Activities

Volunteer supports participant in volunteer activityAre you looking for a new way to give back to your community? Center for Independent Futures is seeking support for our growing activities program.

Our activities offer individuals with disabilities opportunities to gather with friends, make connections, and explore new interests. From social events to cultural outings, our activities are planned with input from the community and facilitated by staff. Volunteers will assist the staff facilitator to guide groups and provide encouragement and companionship to participants.

We need support with activities like our Art Club, bowling, Restaurant Practice Night, Saturday Cinema, Social Hour, and other seasonal or special events. Activities are held during afternoons, evenings, and on weekends.

How to Become a Volunteer

Four participants outside in Botanic Gardens on sunny dayVolunteers don’t need to have any particular skills, but should be patient and interested in supporting people with disabilities in an adult-to-adult manner. If possible, volunteers will commit to working with our community for a year. Volunteers also consent to a background check.

Does this opportunity sound like a good fit for you or someone you know? To find out how to get involved, contact our Activities Director, Jeff Morthorst, at (224) 545-3925 or jmorthorst@independentfutures.com

Four New Additions to Something’s Cooking

Participants experience Something's Cooking and the delightful foodSomething’s Cooking is less than a month away. From a different venue to more featured restaurants, we can’t wait to show off all that’s new for November 12, the fourteenth annual edition of this fall favorite.

Four Updates to Something’s Cooking in 2017

  1. New venue: join us to explore the beautiful and historic Woman’s Club of Evanston. This fully accessible, two-story building offers room for enjoying food from fifteen restaurants alongside bars featuring local breweries and distilleries. And, in the stunning ballroom…
  2. Live music! Arts of Life’s Van Go Go, a collaborative of musicians with and without developmental disabilities, will be playing their signature blend of reggae, roots rock, and funk. We’ll make room for dancing!
  3. Exciting raffle prizes: Buy at least one ticket for this year’s raffle for your chance to win one of two packages. First, you could enjoy “A Night Out on the North Shore,” including dinner at Boltwood, tickets to Music Theater Works, and a stay at the luxurious Stone Terrace Bed & Breakfast ($650 total value). The second raffle prize lets you enjoy your favorite tastes from Something’s Cooking all year long, with a collection of gift cards from our participating restaurants ($300 total value). You can buy your raffle tickets at the event or online ahead of time, and you don’t have to be present to win.
  4. New restaurants and breweries: This year, our line-up includes newcomers FEW Spirits, LuLu’s, Revolution Brewing, Sketchbook Brewing Company, Table to Stix Ramen, Temperance Beer Co., and Yeero Revolution. They’ll be joined by returning favorite restaurants and bakeries. To see a full list, click here.

    Purchase Your Tickets Today!

    Executive Director Ann and Board co-chair Jeff smile at Something's Cooking.Tickets are on sale now for Something’s Cooking, November 12, from 3-6 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Evanston.

    All funds raised at Something’s Cooking benefit Center for Independent Futures’ mission to support individuals with disabilities and their families to access all the opportunities of a full life. To get involved in Something’s Cooking by volunteering or donating items to the silent auction, contact Niki Moe at (847) 328-2044.

September heARTwords Feature: Jonathan and Sandy

This month’s heARTwords spotlight features writers Jonathan Shuman and Sandy Clymo. HeARTwords writing workshop is a creative, supportive community of writers and volunteers who support each other to express thoughts and feelings while practicing communication and self-advocacy skills.

In a workshop focused on friendship, Jonathan and Sandy responded to the question, “What is the nicest thing anyone has done for you AND what is the nicest thing you have done for someone else?” Read on below to find out how these writers support and are supported by friends and family.

Jonathan Shuman

heARTwords participant JonathanThe nicest thing that anyone has done for me was when my mom, Joelle, allowed me to travel to Alaska for the first time during the summer of 2012. It was a great experience visiting Alaska for the first time. I was taken on a breathtaking journey across Alaska visiting Anchorage while learning about many things such as the Iditarod and the Good Friday earthquake of 1964. I also visited Denali National Park and I saw animals such as moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and grizzly bears from afar.

The nicest thing I have ever done for someone else was when Adam Wiser, my roommate, was going grocery shopping at Jewel Osco in Wilmette and he brought home lots of groceries in paper bags. When Adam was going home with lots of groceries, the paper bags broke open and all of the groceries fell out into the sidewalk. Luckily, Adam still had his iPhone and Adam called me on my iPhone and I rushed to the rescue with my big shopping cart and I helped Adam carry his groceries back to my apartment in Evanston safe and sound. Adam thanked me and I recommended to Adam that the next time Adam goes grocery shopping, Adam should use his white shopping cart.

Sandy Clymo

This person is not a friend anymore, but breaking up with me was the nicest heARTwords participant Sandything he’s ever done for me, because then I could be myself. The way that he didn’t let me be myself is that he was discriminatory towards people that are LGBTQ, and as you know that is a passion of mine. 

One of the nicest things I do is respect doctors and treat them like human beings. I think that’s one of the best things you can give them to remind them that they’re only human and some people expect them to be perfect all the time. I especially treat them like human beings when they don’t treat me like a number.

I think listening is a good skill to have to help people out. Even the kind of work I do is being there for other people. I’m in self-advocacy for people with disabilities and who are LGBTQ, where I teach people how to stand up for themselves. I touch all groups of people, not just friends. I think another way to be good to people is to read poetry with them, because poetry is medicine for the soul. Love can be the best medicine to provide to a person.

Local Breweries Join Something’s Cooking

On November 12, join Center for Independent Futures for eats, sweets, and sips at the Woman’s Club of Evanston. Our fourteenth annual Something’s Cooking features new restaurants, our favorite bakeries, and, for the first time, local breweries and distilleries.

FEW Spirits will serve tastes of their handcrafted, small-batch spirits. Two Evanston breweries, Sketchbook and Temperance, will sample craft beer, joined by Chicago’s Revolution Brewing. Alongside these beverages, guests will enjoy food from Evanston favorites like Edzo’s Burger Shop, Bagel Art Cafe, and Celtic Knot Public House. Farm-to-table fans will be treated to bites from Farmhouse, Ten Mile House, and Peckish Pig, while those seeking international flavors can try menu items from Koi, Flat Top Grill, La Macchina Cafè, That Little Mexican Café, and Trattoria D.O.C. And Center for Independent Futures’ own block will be represented by Davis Street restaurants LuLu’s, Gigio’s Pizzeria, Yeero Revolution, and Table to Stix Ramen.

With one ticket, you’ll have the chance to try signature dishes from all fifteen featured restaurants, sips from four local breweries and distilleries, and a dessert display including offerings from Nothing Bundt Cakes, Eli’s Cheesecake, and more. Check below for a full menu of this year’s flavors.

All funds raised at Something’s Cooking support our mission to give individuals with disabilities and their families access to the opportunities of a full life. To get involved in Something’s Cooking by volunteering or contributing to the silent auction, contact Niki Moe at (847) 328-2044.

Here’s the complete lineup for November 12:

Bagel Art Cafe
Celtic Knot Public House
Edzo’s Burger Shop
Eli’s Cheesecake
Farmhouse
FEW Spirits
Flat Top Grill
Gigio’s Pizzeria
Hearts & Flour Bakery
ILOVESWEETS
Koi
La Macchina Cafè
LuLu’s
Nothing Bundt Cakes
Peckish Pig
Revolution Brewing
Sketchbook Brewing Company
Table to Stix Ramen
Temperance Beer Co.
Ten Mile House
That Little Mexican Café
Trattoria D.O.C.
Yeero Revolution

Marathon Approaches for Team CIF

On October 8, Team CIF will head to the starting line of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. They’ll represent Center for Independent Futures on the course to raise funds for the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities. Race day represents the culmination of months of hard work and dedication.

How to Help Our Team

  • Help them reach their team fundraising goal of $10,000 by visiting this link and clicking on the red button that says “Donate to this Fundraiser.” You can also support individual runners from their fundraising links at the bottom of the page.
  • Send a note of encouragement to our runners! Email Elizabeth at emale@independentfutures.com to share any messages that you would like to have passed on to the team. Let them know you appreciate their hard work and that you’ll be rooting for them on race day!
  • Cheer on the team with the Center for Independent Futures crew on race day! Every year, participants, staff, and supporters gather on the course at the Charity Block party, a mile that celebrates the community organizations involved in the marathon. The cheering squad enjoys breakfast and cheers on the runners as they pass. To join the group for this fun and inspiring morning, email Elizabeth at emale@independentfutures.com.

If you have any questions about how to support Team CIF, contact Elizabeth at emale@independentfutures.com or (847) 328-2044.

August heARTwords: Jorie and John

This month’s heARTwords spotlight features writers Jorie Lesk and John Doetsch. HeARTwords writing workshop is a creative, supportive community of writers and volunteers who support each other to express thoughts and feelings while practicing communication and self-advocacy skills.

Jorie Lesk

Would you rather have invented the telephone, the movie camera, or the television? And why?

Lights! Camera! Action! I would have liked to invent the movie camera because life to me is like a movie where you capture the good moments. I love acting, and when I went to theatre camp I would get excited to go on stage. Seeing all of the different spotlights was cool, and seeing the different color lights they would use for the shows I was in reminds me of the movie camera. I am my own star. Every time I would go backstage I would look for my writing on the theatre walls where I would write “Jorie was here.” It made me feel great because I would always remember my times at theatre camp. If I could reinvent the movie camera it would have different Disney movies on it, like “Snow White,” “Beauty and The Beast,” and “Peter Pan” and anything with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. The movie camera would also have different pictures of Disney rides and some of the songs. Some of the songs that would be featured in this movie camera would be “It’s a Small World” along with pictures from the Small World ride and also “When You Wish Upon A Star.” It would also have different Disney characters and their friends. Overall that is my reinvention of the movie camera.

John Doetsch

Would you rather write fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction is fake while non-fiction is truthful. Fiction will let you imagine and create a story or plot that can take you to a different place. In fact, you can make up ideas which you have never experienced. I could even swing on a star and carry moonbeams in a jar, leap tall buildings and scuba dive in the deepest sea, and because it’s fiction, hitch a ride on a huge whale. I could get a ride across the Pacific Ocean to reach Asia in five years (it’s a very slow whale!). During the five years, I ate more fish than I had eaten in my whole life, so I was so glad to see a McDonald’s and get a quarter-pounder with cheese. Being in Asia, I saw palm trees, lagoons, but because I had eaten so much fish, I didn’t go fishing. I was on a tropical island inhabited by Apes, which I learned were NOT friendly, but I wanted to be able to teach them not to be my enemy if they allowed me to be their teacher. I came upon the idea of offering them over-ripe bananas but I had to teach them how to peel bananas. As a result, these formerly wild apes became my friends. They wanted me to enjoy their culture and company. They gestured to me to join in a celebration because they wanted to show their friendship. They were so excited they offered their food, which was a banana. I had gone full circle and with that they gave me a strong vine and tied me to swing on the wine back over the Pacific and back to heARTwords today!

Campers Explore Evanston Resources

Summertime means camp, and for Center for Independent Futures, camp means opportunities to learn life skills and make connections. For the seventh year, we partnered with Evanston Township High School to host Life Tools Camp for eight students from the Transition House.

What Happens at Life Tools Camp

8 members of Life Tools Camp at a track field“Evanston is rich in community resources. We want to introduce students to resources so they can learn about opportunities,” explains Sharon Purdy, a member of Center for Independent Futures’ Schools Team.

Camp began on Tuesday, starting with campers sharing hopes and dreams through collages and presentations. The rest of the week included tours of the YMCA and the Ecology Center and a walk through the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park. In downtown Evanston, the group did a scavenger hunt at local businesses, and at the Evanston Public Library, the librarians helped campers find books, music, and movies. To get around the city, campers used Ventra cards to travel by CTA bus.

“Our week was full of new experiences, both at the Transition House and in the community,” Sharon says. “While we spent the week together participating in common activities, each of us achieved some of our own goals.”

Achieving Hopes, Dreams, & Goals

One student’s goal was to share a meal with his peers, which he achieved when he cooked lunch for the group. Another camper wanted to be supportive of others, and he spent the week being encouraging and helpful to his fellow students. A returning camper used skills he learned last year to achieve his goal of taking public transportation home from camp every day.

All of the campers learned to express their hopes and dreams and had the opportunity to reflect on their goals for the future. One of the campers discovered that he wanted to work in a kitchen. Through camp activities, he learned about jobs available in his interest area.

Grateful for Community Support

Thanks to all the Evanston resources that welcomed our campers this week and to Evanston Township High School for partnering with us. In addition to hosting camp, Center for Independent Futures and ETHS work together to support students with disabilities to learn skills and plan for the future. To learn more about our work in schools, click here.

Save the Date for Something’s Cooking 2017

Your favorite fall tradition is on the calendar! Center for Independent Futures hosts Something’s Cooking on Sunday, November 12, from 3-6 p.m. To continue celebrating our fifteenth year of supporting hopes and dreams, we’re hosting this event at a new venue: the beautiful Woman’s Club of Evanston in the heart of downtown.

Executive Director Ann and Board co-chair Jeff smile at Something's Cooking.Our featured restaurants will each serve up a signature dish for sampling for a complete taste of Chicago and the North Shore. To toast our fifteenth anniversary, we’ll enjoy tastes from local breweries and distilleries. A full dessert display and culinary-themed silent auction complete the celebration.

All funds raised at Something’s Cooking support our mission to support individuals with disabilities to live full, more independent lives. Stay tuned for updates about our featured restaurants and a link to buy tickets online.

Want to get involved in this fun event? We need volunteers to help with planning and running the event and community businesses to support our silent auction. To learn more, contact Niki Moe at (847) 328-2044 or at nmoe@independentfutures.com.

Thank you to the following sponsors who make Something’s Cooking and other events possible throughout the year!

Success Stories

tue22oct6:30 pm8:00 pmSexuality & Safety - Men's Group

sat26oct9:30 am1:30 pmFootball: Northwestern vs. Iowa

sun27oct11:00 am1:00 pmBowling

mon28oct4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga

mon28oct5:00 pm6:00 pmBook Club

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