Why Sign Up for the Chicago Marathon in 2021?

Why do runners sign up for the Chicago Marathon with Team CIF?

Because we have hope.

Hope in a future where we can gather.

Hope in a future where everyone’s dreams are valued.

Hope in a future where individuals with disabilities live independently, building the lives they want.

We Have Never Lost Hope

UncertA group of supporters cheer on the Independent Futures' Chicago Marathon runners, known as Team CIFainty filled our world in 2020 and has spilled over into 2021. When will we be able to gather together? When will we get vaccines? When will our lives feel normal again?

Planning events and gatherings for 2021 is another challenge that has left us with so many questions. How far out is long enough? Will enough vaccine be available for everyone? Will they hold or cancel the 2021 Chicago Marathon?

At Independent Futures, we continue to be cautious, but we have never lost hope. Our community is strong but tired of isolation. So in 2021, we will host monthly virtual zoom “fun-raisers.” We will gather virtually for Drag Bingo Night, Wine Tasting events, and much more! 

Still, almost every day, participants, their family members, and staff ask, “When will we see each other again in real life?”

Who Will Train and Fundraise in 2021?

In this time of uncertainty, who will put in the effort required to train for a 26.2 mile run with the threat of cancellation hanging over them? Who will work to raise at least $1,250 as part of being on a charity team?

A runner, a participant, and a supporter pose on the Chicago Marathon course

Board members, family, staff, and friends have signed up! Thirteen runners have committed to run because they know that the lives of individuals with disabilities can not wait. Eight runners from TeamCIF who registered for the 2020 Chicago Marathon have rolled over their entries to 2021, and five new team members have registered.

Team CIF runners understand the impact our programs have on the lives of our participants. Jim Ducayet is a father of two participants, an Independent Futures Board Member, and a first-time TeamCIF runner. He said, “Running the 2021 Chicago Marathon this year just feels right. There have been so many events we missed in 2020. I’m excited to train and fundraise for something so positive and meaningful. Full lives can’t wait!” 

Our Impact in a Virtual World

Our runners know that Independent Futures has responded to these difficult times by moving forward with hope and purpose in the face of so much uncertainty. 

  •         My Full Life™, the most comprehensive system for supporting person-centered learning, has introduced new virtual skill certifications that provide live, teacher-led instruction for participants to work on independent living skills remotely.
  •         New Futures Initiative™, our signature housing training workshop, is piloting a new virtual format. Virtual learning allows families anywhere in the country to benefit from our extensive experience in developing housing for independent living.
  •         Independent Futures’ tutors have tirelessly supported local individuals throughout the pandemic to stay safe, manage stress and frustration, and continue to live independent lives. 

Join Us in the Chicago Marathon!

A Chicago Marathon runner poses in front of the Chicago skyline after the raceThere is still time to join TeamCIF! Now isn’t the time to sit and wait. Email Joanie if you are interested in running with us. Many of our TeamCIF members are first-time marathoners, and all team members receive training support and help fundraising.

Not a runner? As the big event gets closer, we will give you opportunities to donate to our runners. Supporters can also join our volunteer club to make cards to encourage the runners as they train. We all hope to join TeamCIF at the Charity Mile to cheer for everyone in October!

5 Reasons to Give

Looking back on 2020, it is clear that this year has brought many unexpected challenges. However, 2020 prompted us to be better, more creative problem solvers. Each unprecedented moment of this year showed us that when our communities support each other, nothing is impossible. 

While we reflect on the past year, it is also time to look forward to 2021. The next year holds many exciting challenges and opportunities for Independent Futures. To keep Independent Futures moving forward, check out these 5 reasons to give, helping us create momentum into 2021.

Activities Like Never Before

Screenshot of Zoom screen from bingo night with many faces.When the pandemic began, we quickly moved our activities into virtual spaces. Since then, these virtual activities have been a bright spot for individuals who are used to exploring their community. Being required to stay inside has meant there is an increased need for the supports that Independent Futures offers to adults with disabilities. 

In 2021, we will continue offering virtual activities for any individuals who want to sign up. Your support makes it possible to continue offering ways to lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation during the rest of the pandemic.

New Ways To Learn Life Skills

My Full LifeOur My Full Life™ team is working on ways to get skill development support to more individuals than ever before. Even before the pandemic began, many agencies had waiting lists for supports that would last months. With the changes we are making to My Full Life, Independent Futures hopes to help reduce those waiting times. Keep watching for more news soon, but your support is key to making opportunities accessible for adults with disabilities nationwide. 

Creating Housing Options Online

Tall apartment building where several individuals with disabilities live in an integrated setting.
Sienna communities, an apartment building where several Center for Independent Futures participants reside in an integrated setting.

The New Futures Initiative™ team is creating new ways to expand access to our housing training too. The team is testing online training with our partners at Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin. For family groups across the country, this online option could make a big difference. In 2021, our consultation teams will focus on growing access to our unique programs.

Continuing Incredible Supports

Sarah smiles in foreground of photo with two women standing behind her, one in green and the other in blue.Independent Futures’ Direct Support team never stopped providing supports to our community. By creatively problem-solving with participants, life skills tutors have used Zoom, social distancing, and mask guidelines to keep our community safe while continuing to provide support. The need for support couldn’t be paused, and the need will continue in 2021. 

Sustaining This Community

Ann & Niki hold a sign saying "Thank You Independent Futures Drive-Thru" while wearing masksWith virtual events and online activities, sustaining our community has taken a village. By working together, our staff was able to provide supports and fun through even the hardest moments of 2020.

Together, we have all experienced things differently than ever before. But it is clear that the work of building and sustaining community is never done. With your support, our community can reach more folks than ever in the new year. Make a gift online today at our online giving page

Discover How to Celebrate Giving Tuesday!

Two light-skinned hands holding a red heart against a dark grain wood backgroundThanksgiving week is packed with great opportunities to treat yourself these days. Starting with great meals and lots of family time, Thanksgiving kicks off a week of fun. Next, many of us enjoy Black Friday for the deals, and local shoppers celebrate Small Business Saturday. On Monday, we search the web for more deals, and then we can finally turn our attention to community on #GivingTuesday.

Two years ago, Independent Futures hit our $20,000 #GivingTuesday donations goal for the first time! Thanks to your support, we are hoping to raise $20,000 on Tuesday, December 1st this year. 

Wondering how to celebrate Giving Tuesday with all the holiday bustle around you? RSVP to our #GivingTuesday calendar event to receive a reminder to donate on December 1st! 

Independent Futures Needs Your Support

2 pictures of people under the words "Essential workers keep us safe." Below it reads "Your support keeps essential workers safe too, from direct support professionals to grocery store employees. #GivingTuesday • December 1, 2020"When our office was closed, Independent Futures in-person activities were placed on hold. Our activities director quickly learned how to move activities into virtual spaces, and we have been able to have a full calendar of virtual activities that participants say ease the loneliness of staying home.

Our tutors and Community Life Coordinators have continued support services while complying with pandemic related guidelines. With masks, social distancing, and some Zoom meetings, the Direct Service team has risen to meet these vast challenges in supports. 

Our adaptations have not ended. Independent Futures has creative  plans and is continuing to adjust to our ever-changing world. The New Futures Initiative consultation team is creating an online training program to make our housing creation expertise more widely accessible to families and organizations across the country. This month we will start a virtual training with a family group in Wisconsin, and will continue to support  more groups throughout the coming year.

Photo includes testimony from a Young Professionals Board member about how Independent Futures positively impacted her life.So far, each of you has helped Independent Futures transform a difficult year into an inspiring story of communities coming together to support each other. That is exactly who Independent Futures is: united, creative, and resilient. 

When you contribute to our work, you are an advocate for a better future: a world where all individuals have access to the opportunities of a full life, whether that is building friendships, getting a new job, or simply choosing where to live. 

By supporting Independent Futures’ work, you make a difference in this community every day. We hope you will support us in continuing this momentum on #GivingTuesday.

How to Celebrate Giving Tuesday

3 women smiling together underneath the words "Independent Lives Full Friendships" and a green and purple cross-hatch heart. The bottom says "Support independence & friendships during #GivingTuesday on 12/1."On Tuesday, December 1st, we are participating in #GivingTuesday. Donate to Independent Futures on December 1st to show your support for Illinois nonprofits! With your support, we know we can meet our goal of $20,000 on #GivingTuesday.

 

Every dollar donated in honor of independent futures means we can continue to support individuals with disabilities and their full lives. Through #GivingTuesday, you help us create a future where individuals with disabilities have equitable access to the opportunities of a full life.

Bingo Night From Home

Alexis Bevels, host of our bingo night from home, poses in front of tree-filled background.“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

Screenshot of Zoom screen from bingo night with many faces.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? 

#GivingTuesday 2019 Makes Our Community Stronger

Sarah smiles in foreground of photo with two women standing behind her, one in green and the other in blue.On #GivingTuesday, December 3, the Center for Independent Futures community came together to see the difference one day could make in the lives of individuals with disabilities. The total is in: more than $26,000 raised in just 24 hours! Together, we’re creating opportunities for all individuals to contribute their gifts, making the entire community stronger.

Included in our total raised was a generous matching grant from The Coleman Foundation. The Coleman Foundation is a generous supporter of Center for Independent Futures, particularly behind our efforts to help families create community-based housing. Thank you to the Coleman Foundation for supporting us on #GivingTuesday again this year!

Center for Independent Futures is grateful for all who gave on #GivingTuesday efforts and helped to spread the word. All funds raised on December 3rd, and every day, directly support individuals with disabilities, their families, and their communities.

If you missed #GivingTuesday and would like to make your community stronger through an online, tax-deductible gift before the end of the year, click here. Contact us at (847) 328-2044 for more information.

Independent Futures’ 2019 Highlights

2019 was full of transitions for us at Independent Futures. From updated events to exciting new partnerships, it’s been a big year. Here are 5 highlights to keep you updated on where we have been and where we are planning to go in the future. 

Empowering Through Technology at 1871

Panelists pose for a photo on stage after a successful and engaging event!In April, Independent Futures hosted a panel at Merchandise Mart’s 1871 in downtown Chicago. One of our participants, Jake Joehl, introduced the panel by explaining how technology supports his independent, full life. 

Chrissy Dale spoke about My Full Life, our online life skills development software, explaining how the technology helps organizations track successes. Alongside panelists from SimplyHome, Northwestern University, Infinitec/UCP Seguin with moderating from Impact Engine, the panel and audience explored how to support individuals with disabilities through technology.

This successful panel helped Independent Futures introduce updates to My Full Life to the public and helped set up a year of exciting events.

Big Changes to Old Favorites

Since 2002, we have grown a lot as an organization, though some of our events seemed to stay the same. This year we wanted to shake things up! Starting with SPARK, we introduced new elements to the evening like the Golden Ticket raffle and a new theme: Igniting Dreams.

Jackie stands with Jane to accept the staff Awesome AwardFor Something’s Cooking, we changed the whole name! Inviting local breweries to participate in the first ever Independent Futures Best Brew Award, we introduced our community to Brews & Bites. Featuring our favorite local restaurants, the event became a fun & lively event featuring the best Evanston has to offer.

Young Professionals Boards Moves Forward

Formerly known as the Auxiliary Board, the Young Professionals Board is a group of young adults committed to serving community. Throughout 2019, the board hosted several new events. We have enjoyed getting to know the Young Professionals Board through these new events.

The Summer Social was a ton of fun at Southport Lanes & Billiards. More than 30 members of our community joined with the board for an afternoon of bowling at these old-fashioned lanes. Then in September, the Young Professionals Board hosted a tailgate before a Northwestern Wildcat game. 

New Faces at Independent Futures

This year we said goodbye to our finance coordinator, Constance, and welcomed in two new faces to our HR/Finance department. 

Erika Wade joins us from Union Leagues Boys & Girls Club as our new Director of Operations. Erika has been overseeing our new budget for 2020, executing behind-the-scenes changes to our processes, and brightening up our days with lots of laughter! 

Christina Gatechair is a local Evanstonian who has worked in HR for more than 15 years. She joins Independent Futures from the healthcare industry and has been busy supporting Erika through organization changes and accounting.

Distinguished Service Award Recipient

2019 marked the second time that Independent Futures has received The Arc of Illinois’ Distinguished Service Award. For the second time this decade, Illinois’ chapter of The Arc presented the award to our Executive Director. We were deeply honored to receive this award, and we are excited and ready to continue providing excellent service in 2020!

We want to thank our whole community from the bottom of our hearts for your support in 2019. If you would like to be part of our next big year, sign up for our newsletter or donate today!

Nothing we do would be possible without your help. In 2020, we are looking forward to new collaborations and exciting events!

 

Would You Run A Marathon?

Leading up to the 2019 Chicago Marathon, what do you think Team CIF’s first timers and seasoned runners have in common? 

It’s not the long training hours or researching tips for pre-race nutrition. It’s not avoiding injuries or even a passion for running. While these things are all important for marathon runners, the thing our team has in common is even bigger. 

The team is linked by a common desire to support individuals with disabilities living independently and building the lives they want.

Fundraising For Independent Futures

Every member of Team CIF is responsible for raising at least $1,250 as part of being on a Chicago Marathon charity team. Each member does this in their own way: some reach out to coworkers and family, some host events at supporting restaurants, and some host contests among their friends.

Why do these runners commit to raising so much money to support Independent Futures? Why run a marathon at all? Because of the impact our programs have on the lives of our participants.

Over the course of the 17 years that Independent Futures has supported individuals with disabilities, our tutors have taught hundreds of distinct life skills to help participants live independently. Our New Futures Initiative, a housing training workshop, has helped 200 individuals move into the community of their choice. Our Change Champions programs have built inclusion into the fabric of community places, like the library and YMCA.

The members of Team CIF are training hard and raising over a thousand dollars each because we are leaders in helping individuals with disabilities achieve their dreams. But the team and our community need your help.

What Can You Do To Help? 

Participants make signs in support of Chicago Marathon team runnersAfter reading about some of our amazing team members, you may find yourself thinking, “I want to get involved! But how?” Luckily, there are many ways you can support the team! 

First and foremost, the best way to help the team is to donate! Visit the team’s Crowdrise page to check out the team. Then you can donate to an individual runner, or you can donate to the team as a whole. Unable to donate right now? Try sharing the Crowdrise page on social media and asking your network to support independence for individuals with disabilities too.

Next, you can send words of encouragement to the team coordinator, Connor. She will pass along every bit of positivity you have for the team!

Finally, join us at the Charity Block Party on Sunday, October 13! From about 7:00 am – 1:00 pm, Independent Futures participants, staff, volunteers, and family of the team will be cheering on runners at mile 13. Look for us underneath our tent in case of rain! You can RSVP on Facebook.

Not ready to get involved this year but feeling inspired? You can also email Connor if you are interested in running for the 2020 Chicago Marathon. Looking for more reasons on why to run a marathon? Team members receive running support and help fundraising, plus free tickets to our fall fundraiser Brews & Bites and more. Start getting involved today! 

Save the Date: Brews and Bites

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.

Something's Cooking attendees smiling in front of barAs 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!

Running For Freedom and Independence: 2019 Chicago Marathon Team

During Matt Koss’ first marathon, the morning was wet and gray. As he stretched at the starting line, he had one goal in mind: finishing the Chicago Marathon in under four hours. Matt didn’t quite hit that mark last year, but he is back for the 2019 Chicago Marathon to try again, this time as part of Team CIF.

This year, Matt’s goals are a little different. While aiming to complete the 26.2 mile course in under four hours, Matt is also hoping to raise more than $1,500 to benefit Center for Independent Futures. 

Joining a Chicago Marathon Team

Matt became one of the first members of this year’s Chicago Marathon team, ready to hit the pavement training. However, he hasn’t always been a natural runner. Matt picked up running as motivation to quit smoking, registering for a 5K to help him remain focused. After finishing the 5K, Matt signed up for a half marathon and, finally, the 2018 Chicago Marathon.

Marathon runners at the start of the Bank of American Chicago Marathon race.

Training for the Chicago Marathon typically begins in June, and most runners follow strict training plans to hit their goals. With family and friends cheering him on throughout training and racing, Matt is ready to get started training and fundraising.  

Why Matt is Running for Independent Futures

Matt’s motivation in raising money for Independent Futures is personal. His uncle, Patrick Fox, was a participant at Independent Futures for 5 years. After Matt’s grandma died, Patrick moved and stayed with family until they finally found Independent Futures. After beginning to use our services, Patrick found stable housing and fulfilling employment at Jewel Osco. 

My uncle has always wanted the freedom to decide where he could go and when,” Matt explains. “After working with his tutors, Patrick’s quality of life improved. He was happy living on his own and becoming part of a community.” 

Image of Lee Street Beach, blue water and sky in background, tan sand in foreground.

Since passing away in 2016, Patrick has been greatly missed by the Independent Futures community. This summer, activities participants who sign up for the August session of Afternoon at the Beach will have the opportunity to honor Patrick’s memory at his favorite Lee Street Beach. 

How You Can Support Matt

You can help Matt honor his uncle’s memory by donating to Matt’s Chicago Marathon Crowdrise page. Every donation you make to the marathon team supports full lives for individuals with disabilities like Patrick. 

Thinking of Patrick’s experience, Matt says, “A lot of people with disabilities who want independence can’t have it in their current situations. I’m supporting Center for Independent Futures because it makes a big difference in the quality of life for people like my uncle.”

Join Dream Team on Lake Shore Drive

Join Center for Independent Futures for a biking experience like no other at MB Bike the Drive. On Sunday, May 26, 2019, Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive will be closed to cars, leaving an open expanse of road available to bikers. Watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan and take in stunning views of the city skyline as you soar down the open road.

When you ride with Center for Independent Futures’ Dream Team, you’ll be part of a team of individuals with and without disabilities, including participants, staff, board members, and friends. Our team members participate in this incredible event and raise funds for our programs and services in honor of their ride. Center for Independent Futures makes it easy to participate by supporting riders to sign up for the event, helping with fundraising, and taking care of transportation logistics on the day of the event.

How to Join the Dream Team

We offer incentives for different levels of fundraising, like a refund of your Bike the Drive registration fee and tickets to our annual events. All funds raised by our dedicated riders will support

Center for Independent Futures’ vision of a future where individuals with disabilities have access to all opportunities of a full life.

To learn more about Bike the Drive and to join the Dream Team, contact Jeff Morthorst at (847) 328-2044.

Success Stories

fri23jul5:00 pm6:00 pmBook Club - Zoom

sat24jul3:00 pm5:30 pmHeARTwords Workshop - Zoom

sun25jul1:00 pm2:00 pmMusic Sharing Group - Zoom

mon26jul1:00 pm2:00 pmSocial Hour - Monday - Zoom

mon26jul4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga - Monday - In Person

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