TeamCIF is training hard for the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Early on October 10, TeamCIF will enter their corrals for the start of the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The field for the 2022 event is set to return to 40,000 participants after hosting a smaller field in 2021. Alongside their goals for the race,  TeamCIF runners are raising funds to support individuals with disabilities as they live full lives! 

Over the next four months, our committed runners will face demanding training schedules, whether they run early in the morning before heading to work or work out in the evening after a long day. All will spend many weekend hours on increasingly long runs as they prepare to take on the challenge of 26.2 miles.

A runner, a participant, and a supporter pose on the Chicago Marathon course

To honor the hard work our runners will undertake on this journey, you can support TeamCIF by helping them along the way to their fundraising goal. With your donations, their hard work running will support CIF’s 

  • Person-centered coaching
  • Supported housing 
  • Community building

Visit this link and donate to the entire team or you can also visit the runners’ individual fundraising pages by clicking on names listed below. 

To learn more about how you can support Team CIF, contact Joanie Ducayet at (847) 328-2044. Thank you for helping our dedicated team run for full lives! 

Team CIF 2022

Would you like to do more to support TeamCIF? Please share this link to our donation page.

We have a place for you at Brews & Bites!

As our Brews & Bites event gets closer, we want to reassure our community that we have worked hard to prepare an event that allows us to gather together in the safest way possible.

While we are not requiring our guests to wear masks, this event will be a mask-friendly environment. Our venue, Double Clutch Brewing Company, provides the opportunity for us to gather (weather permitting) with both indoor and outdoor tables and seating. Our ticket price reflects the fact that we will be providing individually plated dinners, rather than a collection of small bites served on large communal trays.

With large, accessible indoor spaces, and outdoor tables and chairs, party goers will be able to find just the right location to make everyone feel comfortable.

As always, your financial support is crucial to our work. All of the funds raised at Brews & Bites will support our person-centered coaching, supported housing, and community building. These services have never been so important as the world moves forward recovering from the pandemic.

Please join us on Sunday, June 26 from 4-7. If you are not able to attend, please consider making a donation or purchasing raffle tickets for our Weekend Getaway Raffle. Winners need not be present to win!

Thank you so much for supporting Center for Independent Futures!

Win a weekend getaway to historical Galena, Illinois

As Brews & Bites gets closer, we are excited to announce our Getaway Raffle! Tickets are 1 for $25, or 5 for $100 with a total of only 150 sold

Your long weekend experience begins with a three-night stay in a lovely contemporary 3  bedroom, 4 bathroom house located in the heart of The Galena Territory. Relax in the private hot tub and enjoy the spectacular views from either the new deck or the fire pit.

Your stay includes passes to The Galena Territory Owners Club, with a state-of-the-art fitness center,  café with indoor and outdoor patio seating, and three great pools!

To make your weekend complete – this package offers tickets for you and your guests to a tour & tasting at Blaum Brothers Distillery, and tickets to Galena’s own Hoof It! Goat Treks.

All proceeds from this raffle will go to support Center for Independent Futures’ person-centered coaching and education, community-based supported housing, and inclusive community building.

The drawing will be held on June 26th at Brews & Bites. Winner need not be present to win. Date of the weekend getaway to be determined with the owner.  Major holiday weekends are excluded.

Get your tickets now!

Brews & Bites is moving to summer!!!

We are excited to announce that Brews & Bites is moving to summer! For years, Center for Independent Futures hosted “Something’s Cooking” each fall. In 2019, Something’s Cooking became Brews & Bites to sample the best beers Chicagoland has to offer. Now in our 20th anniversary year, Brews & Bites moves to summer for the ultimate indoor-outdoor experience!

Insurance plays an extremely important role in the life of American society as a whole, as well as in the life of the individual family. We will talk about automobile insurance simply because it is something everyone encounters almost as soon as they arrive in the country. The need for other types of insurance arises later, as income grows, real estate comes up, wisconsin mutual insurance preparations for retirement, etc. We’ll talk about that elsewhere.

This year, Brews & Bites will be held at Evanston’s newest brewery –  Double Clutch Brewing Company, 2121 Ashland Avenue, Evanston. Double Clutch is more than just a brewery.  It has on display an extensive collection of rare and vintage classic cars. This large, relaxed venue will give us the chance to taste all kinds of beers, eat a delicious summer dinner, play Brews & Bites bingo, and much more!  

Come and celebrate the past 20 years while supporting Center for Independent Futures’ next steps into the future, supporting full lives! 

Tickets are on sale now! Get yours today!! 

It’s Very Rewarding

Center for Independent Futures’ envisions a future where people with disabilities have access to all the opportunities of living a full life. What’s living a full life? It’s having the right to choose your own path. Picking where you want to live. Working where you feel respected. Choosing your own community and friends. The freedom to make your own decisions matters. 

This vision guides our work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Our caring, committed, and supportive employees work collaboratively to support individuals and their families to develop skills and make the reality of living full lives possible.

In 2021, Annie Carlson and Julie Miller joined Independent Futures as Life Skills Tutors. Annie said, “I work for Independent Futures because it is my passion to be able to assist individuals with disabilities to maintain living independently through goal setting and supporting the acquisition of life skills in order to achieve their hopes and dreams.”

Julie added, “One of the main reasons I like working with Independent Futures is because you get to develop really interesting relationships with amazing people. It’s like you are getting to learn alongside them. It’s very rewarding.”

If you are a person who believes in a hopeful and vibrant future for all people, please send us a cover letter and resume and let us know why you are the perfect candidate for our job openings!

Right to Independence

For almost 20 years, Independent Futures has been a haven for individuals with disabilities and their families navigating the adult world after public school supports end. In Illinois, we rank 47th nationally in funding for services that promote community inclusion and 47th in community employment. Families are left not knowing where to turn with a state-funded disability services system that lacks resources and opportunities for real choice and self-determination.

Independent Futures provides an answer. Adults with disabilities benefit from planning, training, inclusive housing, and a range of support services that they choose – to achieve full, active, socially engaged, and independent lives. 

“We invite you to watch the following video to hear firsthand how our work focuses on the hopes and dreams of individuals and families we support,” says Dick Malone, Executive Director of Center for Independent Futures. “​​We help individuals and families to find both independence and peace of mind.” 




The 2021 Jane Doyle Awesome Awards Winners

SPARK gives us a chance to celebrate the stellar individuals and organizations who support our work every day. Recipients of the Jane Doyle Awesome Awards represent Independent Futures through dedication, innovative leadership, personal integrity, and community-forward thinking. These awards are given to a community partner, a participant, and a staff member.

Community Partner: As an employer of Independent Futures’ participants, Trader Joe’s openly allows and encourages on-the-job coaching which gives participants a true path to success. They further support Independent Futures by donating countless items to our fundraisers. Trader Joe’s is a community-driven organization, an asset as an employer, and a generous community member.

Participant: Adam Wiser generously shares his time, his talent & his positive attitude to support Independent Futures.  As a self-advocate, Adam speaks out and speaks up to share his knowledge and to advocate for what he believes in. In community meetings, Adam asks great questions, shares his experience in a way that helps educate and inform others. When the Young Professional Board interviewed for 2 open positions, Adam’s self-advocacy skills shone brightly and he was an obvious choice to serve. Adam always finds a way to make suggestions, and is thoughtful, caring & has a fun sense of humor!

Staff: This year, tonight’s staff award seems like an obvious choice as we honor Ann Sickon for her leadership these past 10 years. Ann has exemplified all of the values that Kay and Jane envisioned for Center for Independent Futures 20 years ago. Ann’s steadfast, calm, creative, and compassionate leadership has helped Independent Futures grow in innumerable ways during her tenure. In particular, her faith and commitment to our mission, our staff, and our community kept Independent Futures moving forward through a global pandemic that forced the disability service providers across the nation to close their doors in record numbers. Numerous staff members commented that there was no better person to steer our ship during COVID than Ann. Ann has demonstrated over and over again a passionate desire to see people with disabilities fully included in the community.

The Gift of a Sister’s Love

In 2007, Arnie Schumer and his sister, Karen Berkowsky, came to Center for Independent Futures. They had no doubt it was the right fit for him, but they could not afford services. Through a scholarship fund, Independent Futures offered Arnie the support he needed to live his full life.

On May 22, 2017, Arnie passed away. He was a caring, generous person, and Independent Futures helped him grow and make the most of his life. Because of the impact on Arnie’s life, Karen decided the best way to honor him would be to help others get the support they need, too.


For years, Karen has been raising money for the Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund at Independent Futures in many different ways. She connected us with the Community Foundation of Morton Grove, Women Giving Back, and countless friends and family.


This year she and friends have created and donated 25 elaborate gift baskets for the SPARK silent auction.  All proceeds from the sale of the baskets (#1-#25) will go to this fund. This generosity not only remembers Arnie but gives the gift of full lives to others.


To buy one of these baskets to support full lives, please visit our online auction site.





In memory of Arnie J. Schumer
June 28, 1963 – May 22, 2017

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend,
He referred to the dates on his tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came his date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That he spent alive on earth,
And now only those who loved him
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.










What is a Golden Ticket, you ask?

Missed getting a ticket to SPARK? Why not buy a Golden Ticket!

What is a Golden Ticket, you ask? Well, by purchasing 1 or more of only 150 Golden Tickets, you will have a good chance to win YOUR CHOICE of one of the fabulous live-auction prizes before bidding even begins! We will draw the Golden Ticket winner just prior to the live auction at SPARK, and you could win one of these fabulous prizes for only $100! Choose your package when you buy your ticket. Winners need not be present. Buy yours today and snag a unique experience!


Magnificent Views in Costa Rica

Enjoy a weeklong vacation at Villa Magnifica in Costa Rica, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and two gorgeous beaches. You and nine of your friends will enjoy this 5 bedroom villa featuring an outdoor shower, infinity-edge pool, and upstairs terrace view. Airfare is not included. Christmas time is the only blackout period, and the winner has 24 months to use their week.


Escape the City to Beautiful Galena, Illinois

You and 5 guests will enjoy this easy getaway just 3 hours from Chicago. This lovely 3 bedroom house is located in the heart of the Galena Territory, near golf courses and downtown Galena’s vibrant shopping district.  Dates to be mutually agreed upon with the owner and the winner has 24 months to use their week. This house is a beauty any time of year!


Gourmet Dinner for Eight in Your Home!

Evanston’s Deux Gourmandes, Chris Baer and Bonnie Dohogne will prepare and serve a five-course dinner for eight in your home. Chirs and Bonnie will work together with you to design the perfect meal to fit your taste! Dinner includes complimentary wine. Dates to be mutually agreed upon with the chefs, and the winner has 12 months to plan their dinner.


Experiential Night on the Town

Enjoy a multi-course dinner for two at Alinea. Alinea has been universally praised for its innovative approach to modernist cuisine. Alinea is one of only 14 restaurants in the U.S. to earn the coveted Michelin 3-Star rating. Wine pairing for two included in this experience. Gift card to include funds to cover 20% gratuity and valet parking.


Da Bears vs. Vikings, Monday, December 20th

The two tickets are located in Section 342, Row 10, Seats 17 & 18. This will be the last televised home game of the 2021/2022 season. Enjoy a night out with one of our favorite home teams. The package includes a gift card to cover parking, meals, and drinks, and includes a Bears scrapbook and four bobbleheads from the 100th year celebration.

The time is NOW to enter our Golden Ticket Raffle to snag one of our live-auction prizes for only $100! You do not need to be present to win.

My Job Before and After COVID, by Lindsay Tonyan

Before the pandemic, I was working from 10 am-2 pm in the dish room of Old Orchard Junior High. That’s where we wash dishes and there are big machines. I worked there for a total of 4 years already, and I like it.

It’s good because the schedule is helpful because I don’t get too many hours, and I get off holidays and the summers. I found this job by looking it up in Indeed. I applied for it, got an interview, and got hired right away.

Before the pandemic, it was difficult and rushed because there were a certain number of things I had to get done on time each day. I had to clean the dishes all by myself, put them through the dish machine, make sure they were dry and take them up to the front of the cafeteria to be served.

I kind of liked it – but it was hard at times. I really liked getting to know the kids. That was fun.

When the pandemic happened, I did not work. One of the supervisors told us that the school was going to be closed for an amount of time. I thought it might be less time, but it turned out to be longer.

This fall, it was kind of confusing. I didn’t hear from them until the last minute. I was missing work, but I was also glad to be staying safe. I felt both things. Because when I was off I got to do the things I needed to do, catch up on things. And spend time with my friends and people I hadn’t seen because I worked so much.

But I missed working, and I really missed the money to do the things I wanted to do. It was a loss.

I started back to school this past August. I was relieved that I got my job back!! Also, it threw me off guard because I wasn’t sure what was going on.

Now I only do dishwashing in the sinks which is much easier because it is only in one area. And I get to work in the kitchen with my co-workers instead of by myself which is good because I get to be around my coworkers. I like to be around people.

But now, it can get to be too much. I’m tired and I don’t have much energy for fun activities after work. But also I’m getting money that I need to buy the things that I like to get.

I’m staying with this job for another year.  Maybe in the future, I’d like to work with people or kids.  I like to help and volunteer, too.

I love my dog, Sandy.  She came here in 2016.  She has just turned 6 years old.  She came from a rescue group out of Houston. It’s called Patty’s Paws.  They foster and match people with their dogs.  The best part of having Sandy is her company and I like the attachment with a dog.  She’s good while I’m at work.

Lindsay Tonyan has been a participant at Center for Independent Futures since 2009. She is originally from McHenry, Illinois and she attended the PACE program in Evanston in 2003. After graduating from PACE, she lived on her own for a few years, then joined Independent Futures which she credits as “helping (her) focus on skills and goals in (her) life.”

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