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

Dream Team Conquers Bike the Drive

On Sunday, May 28, the Center for Independent Futures Dream Team woke up before the sun rose. By 5:15 a.m., they were at the office, ready for the first leg of their journey into the city for the MB Bike the Drive.

During Bike the Drive, our Dream Team and thousands of other bikers took over Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, which was closed to cars for the event. The skyline on one side and Lake Michigan on the other perfectly framed miles of open road. The cyclists who rode with the team included participants, staff members, and other community members, some of whom rode for the sixth year in a row. Two father-son duos rode this year, along with three staff members and three members of our Auxiliary Board.

The ride set off from Chicago’s iconic Buckingham Fountain, where the Dream Team headed north. The trip to the end of Lake Shore Drive was nine miles, and many riders continued on their bikes all the way back to Evanston.

Bike the Drive 2017 may be over, but you can still support the riders by helping them reach their fundraising goals. To support the Dream Team, visit their fundraising page at this link. You can donate to the efforts of individual riders by clicking on the photos at the bottom of the page, or support the entire team by clicking on the orange “Donate to this fundraiser” button. Thank you to our team and all who supported their efforts to ride for hopes and dreams.

To see more photos from the event, click here!

Sailing Again

By Sharon Purdy, School and Agency Consultant

My grandfather’s hobby was boatbuilding, and he made sure that we all knew how to sail. This favorite pastime filled me with confidence, strength and a love of a summer day on the water. As often happens, my pastime was set aside for other commitments. And, almost every day, I found myself thinking, “I’d love to sail again.”

In my work at Center for Independent Futures, I have the privilege of supporting the hopes and dreams of individuals and their families as we plan for their full lives. We work together on living outside of our comfort zones, trying new experiences, and creating positive connections with others in our communities. And yet, I was not getting any closer to going to the dock to make the connections I’d need to get back on a sailboat.

Then I met Michael, my new sailing friend. Our first connection was at a Center for Independent Futures Social Hour where I happened to sit down next to him. On that cold winter’s day Michael and I talked about our common passion for sailing. He mentioned that he spends a lot of his summer time volunteering at the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation run out of Burnham Harbor. Michael has committed 17 years of volunteer service to this program that encourages fun and safe sailing and racing for people of all abilities. My mind was filled with visions of choppy water, the sound of lines against the mast, and the excitement of a fun day on the water. I left that day thinking, again, “I’d love to sail again.”

Michael didn’t forget! The next time I got to see him, Michael handed me a card with all of the contact information I’d need to get involved at his sailing program. He gave me the dates of the late spring volunteer training classes, and above all, he encouraged me to join him at the dock. Michael inspired and reassured me as I was feeling a bit rusty after all these years. Now Michael is my mentor at the Judd Goldman Sailing volunteer program.

Often, individuals with disabilities are isolated and unable to access opportunities to explore their interests and talents. Center for Independent Futures works to create stronger networks with individuals to connect them with others, leading to healthier, happier lives. In this case, though, our typical roles were reversed. Michael supported me, introduced me to his fellow volunteers, and encouraged me to pursue a dream. Michael’s generosity and supportiveness show that when individuals with disabilities have the chance to participate and contribute their gifts, the entire community grows stronger.

The Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation supports people with disabilities to experience the joy of sailing and develop new skills. To learn more, call (312) 747-7684 or visit www.juddgoldmansailing.org.

Aspire CoffeeWorks Supports Community in Every Cup

Thanks to Aspire CoffeeWorks, your morning coffee can do more than just wake you up. Aspire CoffeeWorks is a social enterprise partnership between Aspire, an organization that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities, and Metropolis Coffee Company, an artisan, award-winning coffee roaster.

Since 2009, the two have collaborated to create delicious coffees, sold by the bag and as single-serving pods. On the Aspire CoffeeWorks team, adults with and without disabilities work side by side, demonstrating the mutual benefits of an inclusive workforce.

Individuals like Bridget have access to opportunities to develop new skills and earn a competitive wage. After learning tasks like bagging, labeling and shipping coffee, Bridget was hired as a production assistant. Today, her role makes up one aspect of her full life.

On top of providing these opportunities, 100% of Aspire CoffeeWorks’ proceeds support Aspires’ services and programs that strengthen families and communities. Stock up your own coffee stash or find great gifts for others at their online store here. To learn more about this incredible partnership between Aspire and Metropolis, watch Aspire CoffeeWorks’ short video at this link.

Success Stories

mon03aug4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga

mon03aug5:00 pm6:00 pmBook Club

tue04aug3:00 pm3:45 pmGroup Meditation

tue04aug4:30 pm5:00 pmAfternoon Exercise with Niki Moe

wed05aug11:00 am11:30 amMorning Exercise with Niki Moe

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