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.

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!

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.

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.

Support Ladies’ Night Blessings Bag Event

During this cold winter season, count your blessings and then join our Ladies’ Night participants to give back. In February, the group will host a blessings bag event.

After learning about the issues surrounding homelessness, participants will create bags with supplies for individuals experiencing homelessness. The blessings bags will hold items like travel-sized toiletries, gloves and socks, tissues, and non-perishable snacks.

Before the event on February 9, we hope to collect enough items to fill 150 bags. If you’d like to help us reach this goal, shop using our Amazon Wishlist, found at this link, to send items to the Center for Independent Futures office or contact twickey@independentfutures.com.

Thank you for your support to help individuals with disabilities engage withPhoto of blessings bag supplies. their community!

To donate items for the blessings bags online, click here.

October heARTwords Feature: Jake and Jenna

This month’s heARTwords spotlight features writers Jake Joehl and Jenna Hardacre. 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.

Jake and Jenna responded to two different prompts, both sharing how they get around their community. Read on below to find out more.

Jake Joehl

What most often gets in your way of accomplishing your goals?

heARTwords participant Jake poses for professional photoNot all of my goals have been hard to accomplish, but some of them have been a bit difficult. For instance, I have a goal to be more independent with transportation. This goal has been a bit difficult for me but not impossible. Several years ago I applied for ADA paratransit certification, and at the time this service was rather disastrous. To reserve a single ride, I or my mother had to get up at the crack of dawn on the day prior to my scheduled trip. So for example, if my trip was on a Saturday I or my mother would’ve had to phone in on a Friday morning. At the time there was only one reservation line, and it was only open for a half hour each morning. Often times the carrier would call back at suppertime, and inform us they were going to have to bump my ride times back or ahead of schedule. The drivers at the time would often get lost, and they had to ask for directions from the passengers. I felt uncomfortable doing this, primarily due to the fact that I cannot see anything but light and dark, but also because these drivers were the ones supposedly getting us where we needed to go.

But there have since been several improvements made to our ADA paratransit service, and it is now so much better than before. As a matter of fact, I took a paratransit bus here to the heARTwords workshop. Today’s trip went very well. However, there is still the thought in the back of my mind that one of my drivers will get lost and ask me for directions to my destination. This would be “Destination Unknown!” When I took paratransit to my parents’ house a couple weeks ago, my mother was kind enough to email me directions to get there. Keep in mind that I had not previously traveled to this place by myself. But as it turned out, I didn’t need her directions because these drivers now have GPS devices in their vehicles.

Jenna Hardacre

Do you tend to follow the crowd or walk to the beat of your own drum?

HeARTwords participant Jenna poses for phtooI like walking. Definitely, I like walking. I walked three miles today. See this shirt? 5K run and 3K walk. I can walk; I cannot run. I don’t know why. Do you know why? Some people with disabilities don’t run. Some people run by themselves. I like to walk.

I stopped for water. I was so thirsty. I should have brought my water bottle. It was so hot. There’s the thing–I don’t like people giving me hugs when I’m hot and sweaty. If people try to give me a hug when they’re hot and sweaty, I give fist bumps.

I was dancing all day. I just want to take it easy tonight. Do you think I should take it easy tonight? My feet are really hurting. I’m gonna be sore. I took a nap on a chair, and I forgot what time it was. I was like “Wake up!” I can’t believe I would wake up early for the race–4:30. I usually sleep in! Someone said, “Huh! Waking up at 4:30 in the morning?” I said, “I have to. I’m doing this for Susan. That’s why I’m doing this.”

We all miss Susan. I talked to Dr. M. at the Down Syndrome Center, they know me and Susan pretty well. They asked me how I was doing living alone. I miss Susan. Susan has two brothers, and I talked to one of them recently on Facebook. Susan’s mom thinks I’m avoiding her. I’m just so busy. I’m not avoiding her. I’m just worried about my family. That’s all I’m worried about. I can give her a call. I still have that number on my phone. I’m not erasing it. I’m not erasing it at all.

When I was at walking, I was wearing Capri pants. And then I did Zumba. We did songs by your favorite instructors. I don’t do Thursdays. I just do Wednesdays. Kristen missed me a lot. She’d never seen me for a while. I’ve been working a lot. You know that. I saw her and she was pregnant. Nobody told me at all. They should have told me that. I think she’s gonna be a good mom. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a boy or a girl.

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

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.

Success Stories

thu13dec6:00 pmthu8:00 pmAnime Club

fri14dec6:00 pmfri8:00 pmLadies' Night

sun16dec11:00 amsun12:15 pmBowling

mon17dec5:00 pmmon6:00 pmBook Club

mon17dec6:00 pmmon8:00 pmArt Club

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