Ignite Dreams at SPARK With Us!

In just under a month, we will be dancing the night away and sharing the dreams of our community at SPARK. A night for our community to get together and celebrate all we have achieved this year, SPARK is a night out you don’t want to miss. This year we have some new and exciting features, plus we have been making changes to guarantee you will have the most fun possible!

Silent Auction Prizes

One part of the evening that won’t be changing is our silent auction! We have roughly 70 wonderful packages for guests to take home at the end of the evening.

Florida house view over the ocean with deck railing in frame

From wonderful dining experiences to enjoying excellent theatre performances, we hope that our guests will all find something to bid on! A few examples include a weeklong stay at a condo in Florida, two roundtrip tickets to anywhere in the U.S. from Southwest Airlines, an astounding package from SPACE, and so much more.

Watch for chances to start bidding early about a week before SPARK!

The New Golden Ticket Raffle

In past years, SPARK featured an awesome raffle where the winner was able to “split the pot” with us, but we are trying something new this year! We are happy to be introducing the Golden Ticket raffle!

Sunset in Costa Rica with palm trees in frame, the sky is painted different shades of blue, pink, orange, yellow, and purple.We are selling a limited 150 Golden Tickets, meaning you have a 1/150 chance of winning when you purchase a single ticket. Golden Ticket holders choose their prize selection at the time of purchase from our amazing live auction items. Whether you want to go to Costa Rica or see a Cubs game with stellar seats, we have an item for everyone’s needs.

Winners need not be present to win, but we hope you will stay the whole evening to dance and ignite the spark of our community’s dreams with us!

Changes to Our Program

This year, we are making exciting changes to our program! It is our hope these will allow us to better ignite dreams at SPARK. We will be shortening the program to allow for more of everyone’s favorite part of the night – dancing! We will still be honoring stellar supporters through the Jane Doyle Awesome Awards, but we will end earlier so your dancing shoes see some awesome moves!

Thank You Sponsors, Entertainment, and Guests!

Finally, we want to thank some amazing individuals and businesses who are supporting us at SPARK this year. First, our entertainment, Euphoria Band, will be putting on a great show for us again this year.

Crowd of guests dancing at SPARKNext, thank you to our sponsors because we could not put together such an amazing celebration without each of you. Thank you PSAV, Sidley Austin, Inland Bank, Byline Bank, Monahan Law Group, Rubin Law, Northwestern University, Oak Wealth Advisors, Simon Cordwell Buenz, and Nike Whitcomb & Associates for your support!

And last but never least, we thank our guests at SPARK who will join us in honoring this community. None of the hopes and dreams we help make reality could ever be possible without every one of you! Get your tickets today!

New at SPARK: Golden Tickets & Live Auction Prizes

Every year before SPARK, we are so excited to announce the fabulous live auction packages available to our guests for bidding. Today, we are announcing the five prizes attendees will be able to bid on, plus a thrilling new way to experience SPARK!

Introducing the Golden Ticket

For the first time, we will be offering Golden Tickets to our community! Golden Tickets are a new way to participate in our favorite night of the year. There will only be 150 Golden Tickets sold, so you know what your chances of winning are! If you purchase a Golden Ticket, please make sure that you have selected your prize at the time of purchase. Winners need not be present to win. Each Golden Ticket is $100, and the prize is something special!

The winner of our Golden Ticket drawing will get to choose from the live auction prizes before any bidding even starts! If you win the raffle, you will receive the prize you choose at time of purchase, and that prize will be removed from the live auction. Are you ready to find out your options?

SPARK 2019 Live Auction Packages

From golfers to travelers to art lovers, we have a winning package for anyone’s interests. Don’t miss out on your chance to secure the package you know you want – get your Golden Ticket today! And if you don’t win, there’s still a chance to win your item in the live auction. Check out the live auction prizes today.

Golfing With A Pro

You and a friend will join Hans Larson, PGA head professional, at Westmoreland Country Club, accompanied by member Jim McClure. Your day on the course will include 18 holes of golf, caddies, tips & playing lessons from Hans, and lunch. Date to be mutually agreed upon among all parties.

Magnificent Views in Costa Rica

Enjoy a weeklong vacation at Villa Vista Magnifica in Costa Rica, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and gorgeous beaches Playa Prieta and Playa Penca. Villa Vista Magnifica is a 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath villa staffed with 2 full-time employees. You and 9 of your friends can relax in luxury with such features as an outdoor shower, a private patio, an infinity edge pool, and an upstairs terrace view. Airfare not included; average airfare to Costa Rica is $450 per person. High season is from May through July.

Dinner With Easter Seals Vice President
Please join our Executive Director Ann Sickon & 8 other guests for a four-course gourmet dinner with fine wines in a newly renovated 1882 row house in Little Italy on a Friday or Saturday night this summer. Our hosts Tom LeClair and Carlyn Berghoff will prepare an amazing evening that also includes lively conversation on trending topics in the world of disabilities.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Four seats to your choice of two 2019 games decided upon in conjunction with the donor. These seats offer an extraordinary opportunity to experience Wrigleyville’s favorite team from premium seats only 10 rows behind home plate.

Rob Larson’s Water Lilies

Inspired by Claude Monet’s use of color and expressive brushstrokes, our own Rob Larson has created his own rendition of Water Lilies. Using oil on canvas, the painting celebrates the beautiful relationships found in nature through reflections in the pond and the flowering water lilies.

What Are You Waiting For?

Group enjoying games at Evanston fundraising event, SPARKTickets are on sale now! Early bird prices are available until March 31st, and then all ticket prices will increase by $25. While you’re getting tickets to SPARK, you can also purchase your Golden Ticket and Heads or Tails glamour glasses. Don’t forget to indicate which prize you’d like if you bought a Golden Ticket, and let us know your dinner choices too!

We can’t wait to see you at SPARK and start igniting dreams together!

Save the Date: SPARK 2019

Are you looking for a local Evanston fundraising event to support your community? Join on at the Hilton Orrington on Friday, April 26th for our signature spring event, SPARK!

What to Expect at SPARK!

4 individuals gather around an orange chair at SPARK.

At our annual spring party, we use this opportunity to celebrate our whole community, including Center for Independent Futures participants, families, employees, donors, and community partners. That means there will be dancing, dinner, and a lot of opportunity for fun!

The evening begins with reception and the chance to bid on some of Chicago and Evanston’s favorite stores, restaurants, and experiences, followed by dinner and a live auction. At last year’s live auction, winners took home a safari trip, concert tickets to Ed Sheeran and Elton John, a Chicago-style St. Patrick’s Day package, and more! Plus, you won’t want to miss our favorite game, Heads or Tails. Finish the evening by dancing your heart out to a favorite of ours, Euphoria Band!

Watch For More News

Group enjoying games at Evanston fundraising event, SPARKGo ahead and mark your calendars for SPARK today! Event invitations and online ticket sales will be available in early March. For more event information and updates, RSVP to SPARK on the Facebook event page.

All proceeds from SPARK, our largest Evanston fundraising event of the year, directly contribute to programming, services, and sustainability. If you are interested in supporting SPARK as a donor, sponsor, or partner, please contact Niki Moe or call (847) 328-2044 today!

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

Something’s Cooking Features New Evanston Restaurants

Two participants enjoy Something's Cooking with new Evanston restaurants.Have you heard? Something’s Cooking is heating up, and we have a bunch of great additions to this fall favorite! At Something’s Cooking, new Evanston restaurants are participating, plus you can look forward to raffle prizes and live music. Don’t miss this great event at the Woman’s Club of Evanston on Sunday, November 4th from 3:00-6:00.

Something’s Cooking New Evanston Restaurants

This year we have three new participating restaurants or beverage sponsors, and we are excited to welcome them into this fall tradition!

Firehouse Grill is a woodsy restored early 1900s firehouse, serving American standards. Get lunch or dinner seven days a week. With a new owner, a new menu, and new options, you’re in for a good meal.

Taco Diablo gives a respectful nod to Mexican cuisine, rooted in authentic Mexican cooking techniques. They serve traditional moles, freshly made salsas, and tacos in a lively and casual place.

Fruitbelt Sparkling Fruit Tonic is a wholesome, refreshing tonic made with sparkling water, a splash of Michigan fruit juice, a drop of honey, and a sprinkling of aromatic bitters. With only 60 calories and no artificial ingredients, this is delicious on its own or as a mixer.

Raffle and Auction Items Delight

Like always, we will have plenty of prizes to raffle off – and you do not need to be present to win! In addition to the raffle, you have the chance to take home some wonderful bottles of wine through the wine grab.

Beautiful photo of Great Smoky Mountains with orange sunset over mountains covered with evergreen trees.Plus, the event features some amazing auction items, like a 7-night stay at Blue Smoke Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Nights at the cabin typically rent at $196-$346 per night. The cabin is surrounded by spectacular mountain views featuring Mount LeConte and Greenbrier Pinnacle. In the cabin, you will find a pool table, foosball, a vintage arcade game console, and large screen TVs featuring premium movie and sports channels. And if that isn’t enough, there is also a hot tub overlooking the mountains to enjoy after a long hike.

Get Down with Van Go Go

Van Go Go performs under stage lights in front of silhouetted crowd.If you were at Something’s Cooking last year, you probably saw Van Go Go putting on a show for us. Van Go Go is a group of individuals with and without developmental disabilities creating fun, foot stomping music! Come to the Woman’s Club of Evanston to enjoy the music with our wonderful community of supporters.

Buy Something’s Cooking Tickets Now!

Ready to find out what our favorite Something’s Cooking new Evanston restaurants have to offer? Don’t wait any longer! Buy your tickets online today. Tickets are $75, and you can even buy your raffle tickets online. For more information, contact Niki Moe at nmoe@independentfutures.com or (847) 328-2044.

Something’s Cooking Features Evanston Restaurants

Photo of two women smiling at Something's Cooking featuring Evanston restaurantsIn two months, Center for Independent Futures’ community will be at the Woman’s Club of Evanston enjoying the culinary standouts in our neighborhood. We are joined by fifteen Evanston restaurants, five local bakeries, and four unique beverage suppliers. Join us from 3-6 pm on Sunday, November 4th to partake in the delectable tastes of Evanston! Get tickets online now!

Our Friendly Little Neighborhood

We are excited to be joined at Something’s Cooking by some neighbors near our office. These Evanston restaurants know us and our program participants, and they support Center for Independent Futures’ mission throughout the year.

Firehouse Grill

This woodsy restored early 1900s firehouse is a restaurant and bar, serving American standards. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch, Firehouse Grill has a new owner, a new menu, and gluten-free menu options. Make sure you try out the new offerings at Something’s Cooking!

Gigio’s Pizzeria

This Evanston staple has been serving the community since 1968, making it the oldest pizza place in Evanston. Gigio’s specializes in New York style thin-crust pizza, and their menu offers burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef & sausages, tacos, burritos, salads, and homemade soups. Gigio’s supports Center for Independent Futures throughout the year with fundraisers and participation in this event.

Table to Stix

Photo of woman with child at past Something's Cooking eventTaking pride in the simple things like great food, service, and atmosphere, Table to Stix Ramen aims to bring all of these important elements to the table with good old-fashioned ramen. Don’t miss the chance to try some of this great Asian cuisine!

Full List of Something’s Cooking Participants:

Bagel Art Cafe

Blind Faith Cafe

Celtic Knot Public House

Edzo’s Burger Shop

Eli’s Cheesecake

Farmhouse

Few Spirits

Firehouse Grill

Flat Top Grill

Fruitbelt Sparking Fruit Tonic

Gigio’s Pizzeria

I Love Sweets

Koi

La Macchina Cafe

Lulu’s & Taco Diablo

Misericordia Hearts & Flour Bakery

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Peckish Pig

Sketchbook Brewing Company

Table to Stix

Temperance Beer Co.

Buy Dinner to Support Chicago Marathon Team

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is coming at us fast! Our eighteen person team is busy training and fundraising their $1,000 minimum, but we want to help them as much as we can! So we are hosting two fundraisers at restaurants in Evanston! Read more for the details..

Chipotle Fundraiser

Chipotle fundraiser flyerFirst up, visit the Chipotle at 711 Church St. in Evanston on Tuesday, September 11th! From 4-8 pm, you can buy dinner for yourself and your family or friends. As an added bonus, a whole 33% of the proceeds will benefit our Chicago Marathon team!

Bring in your phone with this post to make sure the donation goes to Center for Independent Futures. Show the cashier this flyer, and they will take care of everything else!

Potbelly Fundraiser

Then, on Tuesday, October 9th, Potbelly will be hosting a fundraiser to benefit the team just after the Marathon is over.  25% of the proceeds will be donated to our Marathon team’s efforts from 5-8 pm. Visit the location at 630 Davis St. to participate!

Just mention the fundraiser, and you are all set! Potbelly will forward your support for our marathon runners!

What Other Ways Can You Support the Team?

Are you looking for other ways to support Team CIF? Check out this blog post where you can donate to our current team members, or put the Marathon on your calendar! We will be cheering on our runners from the Charity Block Party all morning, and we would love to have you join us!

If you are interested in running the 2019 Chicago Marathon, let us know! We will be looking for team members starting in late October or early November.

Want to find out more? Email Connor Larsen with your question, and she will get back to you as soon as possible.

Save the Date: Something’s Cooking 2018

Two participants attend Something's Cooking, smiling at eventOur favorite fall activity is just around the corner! On Sunday, November 4th, join us at the Woman’s Club of Evanston from 3:00-6:00 pm for Something’s Cooking. We will be joined by the North Shore’s favorite local restaurants, bakeries, and breweries for a tasty evening with delightful treats! Mark your calendars today to guarantee you won’t miss out on this fun fall favorite!

We are looking forward to the signature dishes available to sample, giving us all a taste of Chicago and the North Shore’s best offerings. From pasta to pizza and tacos to cupcakes, a ticket to Something’s Cooking provides you the opportunity to find some new favorites! Plus, don’t miss the event’s silent auction for the chance to place the winning bid on some excellent items.

How Can You Help Out?

Want to help us prepare at this fun event? Volunteers help us plan and run the event while taking part in all the fun! To learn more about available volunteer opportunities, contact Jamie Annenberg by email or call the office at (847) 328-2044. We are also seeking community businesses to support our silent auction. Contact Niki Moe Horrell or call the office number to learn more about this business opportunity.

Something's Cooking attendees smiling in front of barAs always, all funds raised at Something’s Cooking will go toward continuing to support our vision of a future where all people have access to the opportunities of a full, independent life. Watch for more blogs about Something’s Cooking to learn about our featured partners, restaurant partners at the event, and a link to buy tickets online in a new, streamlined format.

Thank you to our sponsors who make Something’s Cooking and our other events possible every year! Once again, we also want to thank our wonderful community for coming out to support the hopes and dreams of our participants every year.

Inclusive Fun at Charity Night HamBingo

Hamburger Mary’s is a staple in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, featuring a dining room, an upstairs cabaret with karaoke, and a brewing company next door. On July 1st, participants, family, board members, and staff gathered at Hamburger Mary’s in Andersonville for a fun evening of charity night HamBingo.

Fun With Charity Night HamBingo

Participant poses with Granny at Hamburger Mary's charity night HamBingo in front of a curtain with a brocade design. We rounded out June’s LGBTQ Pride month with this inclusive fundraiser. At HamBingo, bingo players pay $15 for 10 games of bingo or $25 for 20 games, and the numbers are called by Hamburger Mary’s in-house drag queen divas.

The bingo callers are not the only part of HamBingo that is unique though. There are nearly two dozen different ways to win bingo at Hamburger Mary’s, depending on the caller’s choice before the round begins. There was a performance at intermission, but first our bingo caller, Granny, left the stage to prepare for the performance.

While Granny was gone, two members of the Auxiliary Board took the stage. David Jacob called a round of simple bingo, while Auxiliary Board Chair Anu Rajendran called a more complicated game. “It was great to see the Auxiliary Board take charge of this event,” shared Development Director Niki Moe Horrell.

We played ten rounds of HamBingo with Granny’s intermission performance in between. Granny entertained us with a fun rendition of “Believe” by Cher. After throwing in an impressive high kick out on Hamburger Mary’s patio, Granny returned to finish calling our bingo games.

Thanks to Chicagoland Community

We ended the night with lots of laughter as our community fully enjoyed the offerings of Hamburger Mary’s. This evening of fun and fundraising included a diverse crowd of attendees offering support to Center for Independent Futures. We want to extend a large thanks to each of our attendees, as well as to Hamburger Mary’s. Thanks to their hospitality and space, we raised over $1,000, which will support our growing community.

The First Annual Backyard BBQ

When summer finally comes to the Chicago area, we all have to maximize the fun we have in the sun. Now that temperatures are finally rising, it is time to get outside and see all our friends in the community. Whether you and your friends are ready to hit the beach or go for a long bike ride, the one thing most of us can agree on is BBQs.

Group chats at first Backyard BBQ, surrounded by colorful balloons to celebrate.That’s why our Advisory Council put together Center for Independent Futures’ first annual Backyard BBQ. At Hub 930, members of the Advisory Council gathered with community members, staff, our Board of Directors, and family members. We had a great afternoon together, complete with refreshing beverages and satisfying meals.

Board of Director co-chair Ira Mitchell acted as our grill master, flipping burgers and hot dogs with ease. Members of the Advisory Council helped Development Director Niki Moe Horrell prep the rest of the food, including fruit, veggies, and – of course – delicious desserts. By the end of the BBQ, there was almost no food left – a sure sign of a successful cookout!

The Backyard BBQ was an opportunity for the Advisory Council to work as a group planning, organizing, and decorating for a fundraiser entirely their own. Many members of the council help set up for other events at Center for Independent Futures, like SPARK, but this was the first fundraiser the group planned.

Aerial view of Backyard BBQ attendees chatting outside near a tree.Niki says, “Our first annual Backyard BBQ was so much fun! The Advisory Council did so well planning and prepping for the event.” There was plenty of food for everyone, and all the brightly colored decorations were perfect for a summer event.

We are already looking forward to the second Backyard BBQ next year. We plan to make this an annual event where everyone is welcome. Hope to see you all next time!

Success Stories

thu18apr6:00 pm8:00 pmAnime Club

mon22apr4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga

mon22apr5:00 pm6:00 pmBook Club

mon22apr6:00 pm8:00 pmArt Club

tue23apr1:30 pm2:30 pmWalking Club

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