TeamCIF is a community of adults with and without disabilities who participate in the Fifth Third Bike the Drive every year. This group is committed to raising funds for Center for Independent Futures, which supports adults with disabilities living full, independent lives.
Every dollar raised supports our efforts to provide virtual and in-person social opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Our activities are giving a lifeline to so many of our participants during these challenging times. Please donate today and support individuals with disabilities living their full lives!
On September 5th, our bike riders will join thousands of others on Lake Shore Drive. The entire length of this gorgeous route will be closed to regular traffic, open only to cyclists. It is an honor for our participants to take part in this Chicago tradition.
Please donate today and support individuals with disabilities living their full lives!
On Saturday, November 7th, Independent Futures hosted our first ever virtual SPARK! This community has grown so much over the past year. It was time to celebrate! Whether you were able to join us or not, you can watch the video on YouTube. Until then, check out the recap of a night we will never forget.
Wonderful Performances At SPARK
Did you know that the Independent Futures community is fortunate to have artists of all types? At SPARK, three individuals treated us to performances of their talents. Sheila Serota sang an original song for us. Adrian Drower performed an original poetry reading. Finally, Carlos Coleman played a lovely piano duet. Check out the performances and learn more about these artists in the clip below.
Our Awesome Community
Like always, we announced the recipients of the Jane Doyle Awesome Awards at SPARK. First, our outstanding Community Partner has always offered their support during our events. Dennis Clarkson and Gigio’s Pizzeria are like a family, and they have always helped out whenever they could.
The Staff recipient puts equity and access at the forefront of all that she does. In her work with the Evanston Township High School Transition House, students develop important life skills before leaving school. Sharon Purdy truly embodies what it means to be community focused.
Finally, the Participant recipient is someone who has a vibrant social life and is always willing to lend a hand. Jenny Mottola serves on the Advisory Council and has been part of our community for many years.
Aiming For The Stars
At the end of the evening, we were joined by our favorite Chicagoland band, Euphoria! With a 45 minute set, Euphoria helped us make SPARK 2020 an evening to remember. Audience members got out of their seats and danced through every song Euphoria played!
And to make the evening even better, we met our fundraising goal thanks to all of your support! Not only did we reach our goal, but we were also able to fulfill the match offered by generous donors. Now we are ready to take on 2021 and everything the new year will bring.
We don’t have all of the information about SPARK 2021 yet, but we expect to hold the event in the fall. We hope to see you all there!
Independent Futures hosted SPARK every April for more than a decade. Like many other organizations, this year has presented us with opportunities to try new things, like moving to a virtual SPARK! We are working hard to make our virtual celebration as much fun as our typical annual celebration.
How To Attend SPARK
Head over to our SPARK event page to RSVP. Because SPARK will be online, Independent Futures will not sell tickets. For the first time, SPARK is free to attend for all – even our post-celebration dance party.
When you RSVP for SPARK, you will receive a confirmation email that includes a Zoom link. Save this email or add it to your calendar to make sure you don’t lose the link. We will also send reminder emails starting the week before November 7th. Those emails will also include the Zoom link in case your original email goes missing!
What To Expect At Virtual SPARK
While SPARK usually entails dancing, dinner, auctions, and games, our program will be shorter this year. The program will also be driven by individuals in our community who want to share their talents.
When you tune in, you can expect to hear from Ann Sickon, our Executive Director, and watch performances arranged and filmed by participants or tutors. In between these accomplished artists, we will announce our 2020 Awesome Award honorees!
Our Exclusive After Party
After we end our virtual SPARK program, Independent Futures is thrilled to announce that we will be hosting an after party!
Join us and our favorite band, Euphoria, for a 45 minute dance party! All you need to do is stay on the Zoom call during a 5 minute intermission. After intermission, we will return with Euphoria ready to play some of your favorite songs.
You Can Help Independent Futures
If you are able, the best way to help Independent Futures right now is by donating to SPARK. No gift is too small – or too great. You can donate online or via text by texting SPARK20 to 44-321.
Don’t forget: RSVP today to be part of this unique celebration. We hope to see you online on November 7th!
Saturday, November 7th | Create Your Journey
Independent Futures is throwing our annual SPARK benefit, an event where guests can witness Independent Futures’ impact firsthand. Throughout the
Saturday, November 7th | Create Your Journey
Independent Futures is throwing our annual SPARK benefit, an event where guests can witness Independent Futures’ impact firsthand. Throughout the evening, SPARK guests get to know our community, our participants, and our mission.
Since the pandemic began, we have needed to alter SPARK to meet this moment, moving from our original April date to a virtual November 7th celebration.
Our evening will feature talents from our wonderful participants, plus updates on Independent Futures as we look toward what the future will bring for us and our community. Stay tuned after our program for a fun dance party with our favorite band, EUPHORIA!
Join the Evanston community in making a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Are you ready to get involved? Start by RSVPing to SPARK today.
For more information, please email Niki Moe or call (847) 328-2044. To sponsor SPARK, please ask for information regarding sponsorship levels.
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“I’m in my bed right now – actually I’m not in my bed, but there’s no reason I couldn’t be!” – Alexis Bevels, kicking off the evening
At the end of August, our Young Professionals Board hosted a virtual bingo night from home. In an average year, Independent Futures attends Hambingo at Hamburger Mary’s, but this year looked quite a bit different.
More than 30 members of this community joined us from places close to home like Wilmette, Chicago, and Evanston as well as locations far away like Florida, Texas, and California. Hosted by a Hamburger Mary’s favorite, Alexis Bevels, we laughed and joked the night away.
Bingo Night From Home In The Time of COVID
As many of us know now, it can be hard to entertain folks on a Zoom call. At Hamburger Mary’s, attending Hambingo is like getting dinner and a show. Performers such as Alexis call the bingo numbers with a flare, and then they entertain guests with song and dance.
Alexis managed to make virtual bingo feel almost as good as gathering in person. With her own soundboard and some great background music, our attendees remained upbeat and excited to play.
Playing To Win
Independent Futures was able to attain several gift cards as prizes for winners. These included cards for Five & Dime, Unabridged Bookstore, Wheel & Sprocket, and more. One extremely lucky family even won 3 times!
After each winner confirmed their bingo numbers, Alexis asked, “What have you been doing at home?” We learned that some folks are mostly working from home right now, while others are teaching and learning French. Thankfully, our community is staying home as much as possible to protect themselves and their families.
Join Us Next Time!
We all had so much fun at virtual bingo that we are thinking about hosting at least one more this year. Let us know: would you join us again?
Have you heard about how much fun our Evanston events are from your friends? Do you want to experience an event that illustrates what it means to fully include people with disabilities? Join us at SPARK on Saturday, November 7th to join the movement.
For the first time ever, Independent Futures is partnering with The Autobarn of Evanston as a host for this year’s theme, Create Your Journey. At Independent Futures, we support adults with disabilities as they explore the paths open to them, crafting their own futures. When you join us at SPARK, you will become part of the journey to inclusion.
What To Expect At This Evanston Event
We view SPARK as an opportunity to celebrate our whole community, including Independent Futures’ participants, families, employees, donors, and community partners. That means there will be dancing, dinner, and a lot of chances for fun!
The evening will begin with the chance to bid on some of Chicago and Evanston’s favorite stores, restaurants, and experiences. Past auction items include tickets to Cubs games, classic Chicago artwork, and handmade woodworking from local artisans.
The reception will be followed by dinner and a live auction. At last year’s live auction, winners took home trips to Costa Rica, a golf outing with a pro, gorgeous artwork from a local artist, and more! Plus, you won’t want to miss our favorite game, Heads or Tails. We will finish the evening by dancing our hearts out to a favorite of ours, Euphoria Band!
Getting Tickets to SPARK
Let all your friends know you’re busy on Saturday, November 7th now, and get your tickets online today. You’ll want to get your tickets fast because SPARK sold out 3 weeks early last year!
Did you get your tickets for our hot, new event? Early bird prices have flown by, but we still have room for you and all your friends at Brews & Bites! Read on for more reasons to attend Brews & Bites!
Join us on a lovely Sunday afternoon for delicious bites and cool brews. On October 20 at the Evanston Art Center, learn how Center for Independent Futures and our participants help make Evanston an inclusive community for people with disabilities.
Opportunities To Win For Independence
Thanks to generous donors and our wonderful community, there are many opportunities for guests at Brews & Bites to win while supporting people with disabilities in Evanston. These opportunities include 4 raffle baskets, 2 gift card trees, and a beer & wine pull.
Seasonal, Unique Raffle Baskets
Instead of a silent auction, we are offering four fall & winter raffle baskets to keep you busy throughout the colder months coming. Tickets are $20 or 6 for $100, available for purchase at the event.
Want to have an exclusive dinner party with your closest friends or a few family members? One raffle basket includes a 3-course dinner for 8, prepared by local chefs Bonnie Dohogne and Chris Baer. The menu and date will be decided with the winner of this basket. An added bonus? You will also win a $50 gift card for some tasty desserts!
You could also choose to throw your raffle tickets into the Kitchen Basket, featuring unique kitchen tools, cookbooks, and a brand new KitchenAid mixer. This $600 value could be all yours for holiday baking and more.
Your third raffle option is the Christmas Bar Basket. This $500+ value includes all the tools you need to make your favorite Christmas drinks, plus the alcohol and garnishes for the true classics of each great holiday party.
Finally, learn how to make your favorite brews at home! The last raffle basket option is the Home Brew Kit. You could win your very own “Best Brew Award” at home by wowing your friends and family with unique beer creations.
Life Skills Gift Card Tree
Once you have entered your raffle tickets, what’s next?
Check out our *two* gift card trees this year! For either $25 or $50, you will take home a gift card guaranteed to be at least equal to the amount you spent. The gift cards come from a wide range of local and chain businesses. They range from nights out for dinner to home stores to health and wellness activities.
This year, the gift card tree will represent our Full Life Model. The model guides our work as tutors support participants in learning the life skills necessary to live independently. The 8 circles represent areas of a full life, which the leaves of the gift card trees will also represent.
Local Support From Evanston Community
Brews & Bites is being supported by many local favorites! The event will feature 14 restaurants, 6 bakeries, and 10 breweries. Whether you wake up on October 20th feeling like having sushi, pizza, lasagna, or taquitos, Brews & Bites has you covered. Check out our partners for Brews & Bites!
This year there are two ticket levels: regular adult tickets & young adult tickets. The difference between these two are the number of drink tickets allotted and pricing. While adult ticket purchases come with 9 drink tickets, the young adult tickets receive 3.
In addition to drink tickets, attendees will receive the chance to vote in our 1st ever Best Brew Award, unlimited access to all food vendors, and a commemorative tasting glass.
At Independent Futures, we are delighted to announce that Brews & Bites will be taking the place of our annual Something’s Cooking fundraiser. On October 20th, join us at Evanston Art Center from 3:00 – 6:00 for a great time! Read more to find out what’s new in 2019, the cost of tickets, and who you’ll find at Brews & Bites.
What’s New in 2019?
While we hope the community enjoyed attending Something’s Cooking for the past 15 years, we decided it was time for some exciting changes – starting with its name. This new, updated event is now Brews & Bites, a community gathering of Evanston’s favorite local restaurants with one more big addition.
Brews & Bites will also feature local Chicagoland breweries. Each participating brewery is donating tastings of their favorite fall beers! We will be joined by 9 local breweries including: Adams Street Brewery, Kings & Convicts, Ravinia Beer Company, Revolution Beer, Sketchbook Brewing, Smylie Bros., Temperance Beer Co., The Lagunitas Brewing Co, and Ten Ninety.
The tasting portion of Brews & Bites is possible largely thanks to Byline Bank. Thanks to Byline Bank, we are able to expand Something’s Cooking into an even more engaging community event celebrating Evanston’s vibrant food scene.
How To Get Your Tickets to Brews & Bites
We are offering an early bird price for limited duration of 3 weeks this year. From now until October 6th, the early bird adult tickets will be $60. Adult tickets will then be $75 until the day before Brews & Bites. Day-of tickets purchased at the door will be $85.
For students and young adults under 26, tickets will be $30. Children 10 and under may attend free of charge.
As Independent Futures looks toward this organization’s own future, we are exploring ways to stay true to our mission while updating our work for the new decade. Brews & Bites is one of the first steps we are taking to move into the future, successfully supporting as many individuals as we can.
Our favorite fall activity is just around the corner! On Sunday, October 20th, join us at Evanston Art Center from 3:00-6:00 pm for Brews and Bites (formerly Something’s Cooking). North Shore’s favorite local restaurants, bakeries, and breweries will join us 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 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 Brews and Bites provides you with the opportunity to find new favorites! Plus, don’t miss the event’s new themed raffle baskets for the chance to place the winning bid on excellent items.
This Year: Student & Young Professional Tickets
For 3 weeks, ticket prices remain the same as last year at $60 per ticket for adults. This early bird price will become $75 after the 3 weeks are up until the Friday before the event. Tickets at the door will be $85 – so buy early!
However, new in 2019, Independent Futures is offering reduced ticket prices for students and young professionals (under 26) at $30 per ticket. Children 10 and under receive free entry.
All adults will be required to show an ID when checking in at Brews and Bites this year, so don’t leave it at home! We will announce tickets are on sale on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as soon as we can.
New Chances to Win
In the past, Brews and Bites featured a wine pull and a silent auction. This year, we want to make it possible for more guests to win!
Keep an eye out for the beer and wine pull, as well as two gift card trees. The gift card trees are always a surprise – you never know whether you will win a $25 gift card to Target or a gift card for $50 to local restaurants like Five & Dime.
Instead of a silent auction, this year there will be four themed raffle baskets available to win! Watch for more news about Brews and Bites to learn more.
How Can You Volunteer?
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 or call the office number to learn more about this business opportunity.
As always, all funds raised at Brews and Bites 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 Brews and Bites to learn about our featured partners, restaurants at the event, and the link to buy tickets online!
This June, you can support Center for Independent Futures at your favorite neighborhood pizza place, Gigio’s Pizzeria! For every extra-large pizza ordered during the month, Gigio’s will donate two dollars to Center for Independent Futures.
Month-Long Fundraiser for Independent Futures
This year will be the 4th in a row that Gigo’s is supporting our community. Last year, their efforts raised over $500 for hopes and dreams. To order your extra-large pizza during the month of June to support Center for Independent Futures, call Gigio’s at (847) 328-0990 or visit them at 1001 Davis Street in downtown Evanston, just down the block from our office.
We offer special thanks to Frannie and Dennis Clarkson for their continued support of full, independent lives in the Evanston community!
Gigio’s Pizzeria 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 the menu offers burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef and sausages, tacos and burritos, salads, homemade soups, and more. Plus, Gigio’s now offers gluten-free pizza crusts!
Your participation in this fundraiser supports our work toward a future where individuals with disabilities have access to all opportunities of a full life.
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.
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!
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.
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!