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
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.
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.
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.
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!
On Friday, April 27, the Center for Independent Futures community celebrates a stellar year at our signature event, an annual SPARK gala, hosted at the Hilton Orrington in downtown Evanston.
Great Event & Dessert Sponsors
We are grateful to our annual SPARK sponsors PSAV, Sidley Austin LLP, First Bank & Trust, Northwestern, Inland Bank, Monahan Law Group, and Brian Rubin and Associates, for their support. This year, craft beer will be supplied by Revolution Brewing and Temperance Beer Company, and desserts will be provided by Flat Top Grill, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Bennison’s Bakery, Lawrence Deans Bakery, and Beth’s Little Bake Shop.
Experience Chicago with exciting city getaways featured in our silent and live auctions. This year’s packages include tickets to see Ed Sheeran, Elton John’s Farewell Tour, and U2. We will also be auctioning an original Monet-inspired piece painted by staff member and artist Rob Larson.
PSAV will help us set the scene for a fun night of dancing, and Collaboraction will provide our entertainment for this star-studded night. At the end of the night, be ready to dance to the sounds of Euphoria Band!
How to Join the Fun
For more updates, join the Facebook event here. As our largest fundraiser of the year, all proceeds from this event directly contribute to programming, services, and sustainability.
If you’re interested in getting involved with SPARK by volunteering, contributing, or learning about sponsorship opportunities, contact Niki Moe at (847) 328-2044 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purchase your tickets today!
On Sunday, October 8, eight runners representing Team CIF took the 26.2 mile journey from the start to the finish line of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Every step of their route supported the journeys individuals with disabilities take along the way to full, independent lives.
Race weekend kicked off with a Pasta Party at the Center for Independent Futures office, where runners, staff, board members, and participants gathered for a meal. Thanks to a generous donation from the Lincolnwood
On Sunday morning, a cheering squad of participants and staff members set up a tent at the marathon’s Charity Block Party. As the runners ran by at mile 14, the group kept their energy up with their encouragement. Despite the heat, all eight Team CIF runners crossed the finish line.
During their months of training for the race, our runners raised over $11,000 for Center for Independent Futures. Celebrate the team’s success by visiting their Crowdrise page here and clicking on the red button on the right that says “Donate to this fundraiser,” or donate to an individual runner by clicking on the names at the bottom of the page.
Team CIF will be back at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2018. If you or anyone you know would like to achieve the dream of running a marathon while helping others reach their own dreams, contact Elizabeth at (847) 328-2044 or email@example.com.
Registration opens on October 24, and spots are limited, so call or email today to guarantee your entry into this incredible event!
After indulging on Thanksgiving, shopping on Black Friday, and searching on Cyber Monday, we celebrate our community on a day of generosity.
On #GivingTuesday, November 28, your gift to Center for Independent Futures supports the full lives of individuals with disabilities—and goes much further. Your generosity impacts the communities surrounding our participants: the coworkers, family members, friends, and neighbors that individuals with disabilities interact with every day.
Thanks to the generosity of The Coleman Foundation, your online #GivingTuesday contribution also goes further. If you give $25-$99, the Foundation will add $25 to your gift. If you give $100-$499, $100 will be added, and if you give $500 or more, $500 will be added. If you have questions about this opportunity or how to make your gift, call us at (847) 328-2044.
In the coming weeks, we’ll share stories of how your support creates stronger communities and fuller lives. Last year, our community raised more than $33,000 in 24 hours. With your support, we’ll continue growing our community, this year and every year.
Center 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 Brewing, Sketchbook 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 their 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
Every day in 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 back to Center for Independent Futures.
This year will be the second 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.
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, and homemade soups. Your participation in this fundraiser supports our work toward a future where individuals with disabilities have access to all opportunities of a full life.
Center for Independent Futures’ eleventh annual SPARK was a joyful celebration of fifteen years of supporting hopes and dreams. Thank you to all who attended, volunteered, and supported the event to help us commemorate this anniversary! View our full album of photos on Facebook here, and check out 6 of our favorite moments below:
- Participants sharing their stories: We heard from four individuals whose involvement spanned the length of our fifteen years about their full lives. Thank you to Paige, Avi, Jenny, and Adam for sharing!
- Photo loop of memories from the past fifteen years: During dinner, guests enjoyed a slideshow of images from Center for Independent Futures’ history. In case you missed it, check it out on our YouTube channel by clicking here.
- A matching challenge and your generosity: Thanks to an incredible donor, $30,000 raised by guests at SPARK was matched dollar-for-dollar to go twice as far to support hopes and dreams.
- The third annual Jane Doyle Awesome Awards: This year, we honored staff member Rob Larson, community partner First Bank & Trust, and participant Matthew LaChapelle. Read more about the award winners here.
- The live auction: After exciting bidding contests,, lucky winners went home with an original painting by staff member Rob Larson, tickets to U2/The Lumineers and Bruno Mars, an Evanston staycation, and a four-night getaway.
- Dancing the night away: The dance floor was packed and energy was high with music from Euphoria Band. Lady Gaga made a special guest appearance, thanks to the talented actors from Collaboraction Theater Company who brought the stars to SPARK.
Thank you to all who attended, volunteered, participated in the raffle or Heads or Tails game, bid in the silent or live auctions, and supported us through donations. We are especially grateful to our sponsors, including premium platinum sponsor Stone Heritage Properties, gold sponsor PSAV, silver sponsor First Bank & Trust, and bronze sponsors Inland Bank, Monahan Law Group, and Rubin Law. Dessert sponsors Bennison’s Bakery, Beth’s Little Bake Shop, Eli’s Cheesecake, Flat Top Grill, Lawrence Deans Bake Shop, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Sweety Pies Bakery, Three Tarts Bakery & Cafe, and Trader Joe’s filled our decadent dessert displays. Beverage sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company helped us stock the bars with local beer.
Because of all of our supporters, old and new, SPARK 2017 was a shining success, allowing us to continue creating innovative solutions for individuals with disabilities and their families as they pursue their hopes and dreams.
Check out our full album of photos on Facebook here!
The Center for Independent Futures community is full of individuals and organizations that build connections, embrace differences, and support others. At SPARK every year, we present three with the Jane Doyle Awesome Award, honoring co-founder Jane Doyle’s legacy by selecting a staff member, community partner, and participant who show innovative leadership and personal integrity.
The 2017 Awesome Award in the staff category was presented to Community Life Coordinator Rob Larson. Rob is exceptional in strengthening connections and mentoring others. He is dedicated to enriching the lives of the individuals and families he supports through clear and respectful communication and a constant willingness to help. Rob’s thoughtful ideas, excellent listening, and creative problem-solving make him a gift to the Center for Independent Futures community.
The community partner honored was First Bank & Trust. First Bank & Trust has walked beside Center for Independent Futures since we began our journey 15 years ago. Employees at the bank have formed caring relationships with members of our community, always going the extra mile. First Bank & Trust has been a long-time sponsor for SPARK and recently became an annual sponsor, partnering with us year-round to support hopes and dreams.
Finally, the winner in the participant category was Matthew LaChapelle. Matthew takes risks to pursue new opportunities and is kind and encouraging to others. A strong advocate, Matthew readily shares his experiences as an individual with disabilities to challenge stereotypes and change perceptions. He serves as a mentor for younger campers at a camp in Colorado and works with Collaboraction Theater Company, a group committed to social change and diversity. As member of Center for Independent Futures’ Advisory Council, Matthew shares his voice and talents to make our community stronger.
We are grateful for the contributions that Rob, First Bank & Trust, and Matthew have made to the Center for Independent Futures community. Congratulations to these three individuals for this well-deserved honor!
Before dawn on Sunday, May 28, Lake Shore Drive will become a quiet expanse of pavement, emptied of cars. When Bike the Drive 2017 begins, thousands of cyclists will fill the road to enjoy beautiful views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. Though the sights are stunning, some riders are hitting the street for more than a nice view.
Bikers representing Center for Independent Futures’ Dream Team will ride to raise funds for our mission: creating innovative service models that support individuals with disabilities and their families to live full, independent lives. The Dream Team has a goal to raise $10,000, and our riders need your support.
The team is a community of adults with and without disabilities including participants, staff, and other community members, many of whom are riding with us for the sixth year in a row. They’ll gather in Evanston before sunrise and travel to the city together for the ride of a lifetime.
Our bikers are busy training, spreading the word, and getting their bikes tuned up. To support our riders, visit the Dream Team’s Crowdrise online fundraising page at this link. You can donate to the efforts of individual riders by clicking on the photos toward the bottom of the page, or support the entire team by clicking on the orange “Donate to this fundraiser” button.
To learn more about the Dream Team and how to support our riders, contact Niki Moe at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 328-2044.