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

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

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.

July heARTwords: Sarah and Brian

Starting this month, our blog will feature selections from the writers of the heARTwords writing workshop. At heARTwords, twenty to thirty writers gather to share themselves with the help of dedicated volunteers. HeARTwords is a community of emotions, courage, imagination, knowledge, experience, and heart.

Facilitators Barry Siegel, Paul Fields, and Joe Jackson lead the group to address topics ranging from current events to emotional issues, from humor to pathos, from magic and miracles to triumphs and tragedies. Writers contemplate love lost and love found, history, the future, and everything in between.

The facilitators encourage participants to share their communication skills and creative expressions outside of heARTwords, with family, friends, and other members of their community. This practice includes listening, questioning, and commenting. Self-advocacy is an integral part of living independently and being able to communicate with clarity, logic, passion, and focus are critical to its success.

Sarah Schechtman-Thale

You are a guest speaker at an elementary school and you’re there to address a class of first-graders. What will you talk to them about?

I would talk to the first-graders about my disability. Some first-graders think that you can catch cerebral palsy. I would tell them about the basics–what it is and how you get it, and that they don’t have to be afraid to approach me. I would first tell them how I was born with it and how it was a result of my brain cells not being developed. I would tell them that there was too much oxygen coming at them too fast, so some brain cells died. I think that you can actually see those brain cells on a scan. They would be gray, and the other cells would be healthy. Most importantly, I would tell them not to let things hold them back. If I can do it, they can do it. Hopefully, I won’t have kids timidly approaching me anymore after our talk.

Brian Reed

If your mirror could speak, what would it say?

When I look in the mirror, I see my dad’s face. He is saying “hi” to me. He says that he loves me and asks, “How is Vicki?” Vicki is my niece. He tells me that while he has been up in heaven, he has been thinking about me. He has been wondering how I am doing, and I tell him that I am doing OK. It is hard when people die, but I have been doing OK. I tell him that I wish he was still alive. I miss travelling with him, I miss birthday parties, and I miss talking to him on the phone. I miss visiting where he used to live as a kid. When I look in the mirror I also see Rosemary’s face. I say to her, “I miss you, Rosemary.” I miss going to breakfast. I also tell her that I am doing OK. Thank you for being part of my life, Rosemary. I wish that you, too, were still alive.

 

Advisory Council and Auxiliary Board Share Laughter

The Advisory Council and Auxiliary Board’s most recent gathering wasn’t a typical meeting. Instead, the office was full of activity as some acted out flipping a pancake or figure skating and others tried to get their teammates to guess movie titles. The two groups came together for pizza, charades, and laughter, creating new connections and strengthening existing friendships.

The Advisory Council and Auxiliary Board both support Center for Independent Futures’ mission through fundraising and awareness efforts. The Advisory Council is a group of Center for Independent Futures participants, while the Auxiliary Board is made up of young professionals. The groups plan separate and collaborative fundraisers and social events and work together to support SPARK, our largest fundraiser.

If you’re interested in meeting members of the Auxiliary Board or Advisory Council, join us for dinner on Tuesday, August 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Evanston’s Potbelly Sandwich Shop (603 Davis Street). That night, a portion of all sales will be donated back to Center for Independent Futures to support our Bank of America Chicago Marathon team. Along with other members of our community, the Advisory Council and Auxiliary Board will gather for dinner to socialize and support our runners.

To learn more about how to get involved with either group, contact us at center@independentfutures.com or call (847) 328-2044.

Looking Ahead at the End of Pride Month

By Avielle Suria Trenche

Pride Month has been an eventful time in Chicagoland! As it comes to a close, we want to celebrate by featuring the efforts of our community members and sharing ways to get involved after Pride Month ends.

LGBTQ advocate SandyCenter for Independent Futures participant Sandy Clymo serves as an Advocate at an organization called Proud & Included. Proud & Included provides individuals with developmental disabilities who identify as LGBTQ with opportunities to build community and tools to advocate for themselves. Sandy is also an ambassador at Proud & Included, a role that includes mentoring, training, and encouraging self-advocates to participate in the community as their true selves.

The Proud & Included community welcomes individuals with disabilities who identify as LGBTQ as well as allies and family members. It’s a place for anyone seeking effective ways to promote self-advocacy and support their loved ones. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new friends and explore identities in a supportive group.

Proud & Included logoIf you’re interested in getting involved, you can attend a monthly Participant/Ally Meetings, where people come together to learn about inclusion, community events, and local resources. Their next meeting will be held on Sunday, July 9, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Center on Halsted. You can register for the event using this link: Proud & Included Monthly Participant/Ally Meeting

The celebration doesn’t stop there! Proud & Included plans to participate in the 2017 Disability Pride Parade on Saturday, July 22. You can find more information about getting involved with the parade at this link: Proud & Included Marches in Disability Pride Parade

To learn more about the Disability Pride Parade, visit www.disabilityprideparade.org. The parade’s mission is to change the way people think about disability so that society can recognize it as a natural part of human diversity, in which people can take pride.

“Spread your wings! People should be what they want, go wherever they want, and do what they want. Remember, be confident, and proud!” – JoJo Michaels, Proud & Included Ambassador

 

Sign On to Improve Paratransit Services

Photo of Pace transit busGetting around the community is essential to a full life. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures the existence of paratransit to supplement accessible public transportation, providing individualized rides without fixed routes or schedules. Unfortunately, these services don’t allow the same flexibility as other methods of transportation.

“The way the system is currently designed, you have to call 24 hours ahead for next-day service,” Stephen Hiatt-Leonard explains. “Persons who are certified to use the service have to plan their schedules around transportation. There is no spontaneity in their lives.”

Stephen, a student at Southern Illinois University, is working to change these problems to give individuals with disabilities access to the transportation they need to take advantage of daily opportunities. He created a petition directed at Pace Suburban Bus, which oversees paratransit services in Chicagoland.

To support Stephen’s campaign to improve these transportation services, click here to sign his petition on Change.org. Read on below for a letter from Stephen about why this change is so important to individuals with disabilities.

Hello,

My name is Stephen Hiatt-Leonard. I’m a senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale currently majoring in rehabilitation services. I’m also an ADA Pace Paratransit user.

I came to the realization this summer that ADA Paratransit does not give individuals with disabilities who are eligible for the service the flexibility to do things with their friends or at a moment’s notice – because we have to call 24 hours in advance for next-day service.

It is my goal to change that and have ADA Paratransit services available the same day clients call for reservations. The Southern Illinois University Carbondale paratransit system has something similar to this where we can call 24 hours or 1-2 hours for same-day service.

My paratransit work began at SIU, where the paratransit system did not serve students well. As a Senator for students with disabilities in the Undergraduate Student Government, I worked with administration to correct the problem. In a year, we had a new paratransit system in place.

Next, on to Chicago and Pace. There is a lot of work to do to make Pace more user-friendly. I began a petition on Change.org and am currently accepting signatures. The major change is to make the service more accessible to passengers through the ability to call and be picked up in a short period of time, like an hour, rather than making a reservation the day before. The current system limits the ability to make and keep last-minute appointments, to interact in the community as others are able to do, and to be spontaneous. This update is not going to happen quickly, but my hope is that eventually we will be able to see the change.

Stephen Hiatt-Leonard

Evanston, Ill.
Student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Rehabilitation Services program at the Rehabilitation Institute

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