#GivingTuesday and #ILGive a Success!

At Center for Independent Futures, we feel honored to be part of such a generous community, especially after #GivingTuesday and #ILGive! Because of each of you spreading the word and donating, we were able to surpass our donation goals!

#GivingTuesday and #ILGive

Giving Tuesday image of woman laughing in purple striped shirtOn Tuesday, November 27th, countries around the world celebrated #GivingTuesday. In Illinois, we also participate in #ILGive, an initiative from Forefront that hopes to show Illinois is one of the most generous states in America. This year was a big year for their #ILGive project: registered Illinois nonprofits raised $1,720,107 in just 24 hours from 6,902 donors!

While #GivingTuesday was a very big day for nonprofits across the world, it was also a huge success for Center for Independent Futures. Our community helped us raise $24,038 from just under 100 contributors! We not only surpassed our $20,000 goal – we also raised about $8,000 more than we have in previous years.

The funds raised through #GivingTuesday contribute to the services and activities we are able to provide to our participants, like heARTwords, where members are encouraged to express themselves through writing prompts. Activities and services like heARTwords provide a sense of community to this community that too often feels lonely and excluded. Your support truly makes a difference and helps us continue providing a sense of belonging to our participants.

Matching Grant for #GivingTuesday

Man smiling in a baseball cap with bracelets on with #GivingTuesday and #ILGive imageryAs if raising more than $24,000 in one day wasn’t exciting enough, we were also offered a matching grant opportunity. For every donation of $175 or more, we received an additional $175 thanks to the Coleman Foundation. As a result, Center for Independent Futures will receive an additional $10,000!

With your help, we raised a total of $34,038 on November 27th! That makes this year our most successful #GivingTuesday yet, and it is all thanks to you, our wonderful community. We cannot thank you enough for your generosity during this giving season.

There Is Still Time To Give!

Did you forget to give on #GivingTuesday and #ILGive? That’s okay! There is still time to give this year. If you want to make a year-end gift to Center for Independent Futures, please contact Niki Moe Horrell or call our office at (847) 328-2044.

Funds Raised By New Trier Cross Country Team

For the past couple of years, the New Trier Cross Country boys team has hosted a fundraiser benefitting Center for Independent Futures. For this fundraiser, the team reached out to their families and friends for pledges based on their running. By the end, the team raised $6,023 for full, independent lives!

Why Center for Independent Futures

New Trier Cross Country team holds up New Trier flagDave Wisner has been Head Coach of the Varsity team for twelve years. In that time, many students with intellectual or developmental disabilities have been part of his cross country team. Dave said that the team always benefitted from having a diverse group of students participating, but they wondered what happened to students with disabilities when they aged out of transition programs at age 22.

Team captains Charlie Forbes, Cameron Chang, Graeme Lane, and Luke Wisner looked into where their teammates went after they aged out, and they discovered Center for Independent Futures. Captains discussed options with the team. The team ultimately decided to donate the money they raised to us because we are a local organization, and they can see the direct impact their hard work had in the community.

The funds raised by the boys New Trier cross country team are designated for our scholarship funds. These funds are used to broaden access to our programs, like life skills tutoring, which helps individuals with disabilities live independently in the community.

Matching Donations for Scholarships

Thanks to a major supporter and a longtime believer in Center for Independent Futures, these funds are being met with a matching grant. This generous donor has committed to a $25,000 matching grant for funds earmarked for our scholarship funds. All donations designated for scholarships will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000.

For more information about the New Trier cross country fundraiser or the matching grant, please reach out to Niki Moe by email or at (847) 328-2044.

Congratulations to Chicago Marathon Team!

About a year ago, eighteen members of our growing community signed up for the challenge of a lifetime: running the Chicago Marathon. On Sunday, October 7th, our charity team completed this challenge, bringing home their medals and accomplishments. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team raises funds for their respective charities in return for guaranteed entry to the race, and Team CIF did not disappoint!

Race Day Nutrition: Pasta Party

On Friday before the race, we hosted a pasta party for our runners. Courtesy of Olive Garden at Lincolnwood, the runners were able to fill up on pasta, breadsticks, and salad in order to carb load before the big day.

Several members of the marathon team joined us, including some families, and we were joined by staff, Community Builders, and participants as well. We love hosting this pasta party for just this reason. It’s the perfect opportunity for the runners to meet our loving community and see who their fundraising supports.

Charity Block Party Cheer Team

On Sunday, while the team got ready to run, six participants and a few staff members got ready to cheer them on! We set up a tent and made signs for the runners on mile 14 along the Charity Block Party.

As runners passed, we offered them carbs in the form of pretzels and mini bagels, plus sugary energizers like gummy bears. When our team members ran past, we cheered as loud as we could! It was a long, rainy day in Chicago, but we didn’t let that stop us from supporting our wonderful 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team!

Still Time to Contribute to Team CIF!

The team set a goal of raising $1,000 per runner, and by Monday morning, they had raised $13,657! That’s 76% of the team’s $18,000 goal! But you can still help push them over the edge. The team has until November 30th to raise the last bit of their funds. You can donate to the team on their CrowdRise page.

We also have one more team fundraiser this week! On Tuesday, October 9th, you can visit Potbelly from 5:00-8:00 to donate 25% of your purchase to Team CIF. All you have to do is go to the Potbelly at 630 Davis St. and tell your cashier you want to support Center for Independent Futures.

Always Wanted to Run a Marathon?

Part of 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team waves as they pass the Charity Block PartyYou’re in luck! Team CIF has been granted another 18 slots for our 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon charity team! We walk our marathon team through each step of the process, including monthly check-ins throughout the year and tools for fundraising. Plus, you get access to our team pasta party, a group of folks cheering you on, and the opportunity to be part of this wonderful community.

Contact Connor Larsen at clarsen@independentfutures.com or (847) 328-2044 to learn more.

Final Stretch for Marathon Runners

Collection of photos of past runnersOf most common exercises, running can wreak the most havoc on a person’s body. As your feet strike the pavement, the shock of impact travels up your leg, affecting the delicate bones in your feet, putting stress on your knee joints, and invoking pain in your hips.

But that isn’t stopping our team of 18 Chicago Marathon runners. Mile after mile, our team members will be running for the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities who hope for a future where they can live independently. Our runners have been working hard all year to prepare for a 26.2 mile challenge. In the final stretch for marathon runners, they need your support.

Here’s How You Can Help

  • Help the team reach their fundraising goal of $18,000! This is our biggest goal yet, and our runners need your help! Go to CrowdRise and click the big red button on the right side to donate. You can also donate to individual team members by clicking on their name at the bottom of the page.
  • Let our runners know they have your support! If you have run a marathon before, or if you want to share encouragement, let the team know. Reach out to Connor, and she will pass on your words of encouragement to the team. Knowing you appreciate their hard work and dedication may be the boost they need to keep going!
  • Join us at the Charity Mile Block Party! Cheer on the team with Center for Join our support team during the final stretch for runnersIndependent Futures participants, staff, and Board members as our runners pass Mile 15. The Cheer Team enjoys breakfast and camaraderie – let Connor know if you want more information about joining us at the Block Party.

Ready to Join the Support Team?

If you have any questions or ideas about supporting the final stretch for Marathon team, call the office at (847) 328-2044 or email Connor today!

Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund Created

Individuals with disabilities should have access to all the opportunities that a full, independent life offers. To achieve that access, many individuals need support from organizations like Center for Independent Futures. But what happens when a family can’t afford those services?

A Journey to Community Support

Arnie Schumer and his sister, Karen Berkowsky, could not afford the services provided by Center for Independent Futures, but they knew it was the right fit for Arnie. Through a scholarship fund, we were able to offer Arnie services that supported his needs and provided access to independent living. Before Arnie passed away last May, Arnie had been a part of our community since 2007.

Arnie was a caring, generous person, and Center for Independent Futures helped him further develop his existing skills and talents. Because of the impact this support had on her brother’s life, Karen decided the best way to honor him would be to help others get the support they need, too.

Karen started by taking Arnie’s story to a group called Women Giving Back. Each year, this group of generous women gathers to hear about three local charities three to four times. Then they vote on the story that they would like to support. The winning charity receives a donation from each voting member.

Ann & Megan receiving initial check from Women Giving BackWhen Karen presented her family’s story, it touched many hearts, and also received the most votes. The total donation received was a wonderful gift of $5,550. We will use the donations from Women Giving Back to start a hopefully long-standing scholarship fund in Arnie’s memory. The scholarship dollars from the Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund will be given to qualifying individuals with disabilities and families who need financial help to pay for Center for Independent Futures’ services.

How You Can Help Others Like Arnie

Along with Arnie’s sister, we are reaching out to our community to help provide the same opportunity that Arnie had to others who need it. If you want to donate to the Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund, you may write a check to Center for Independent Futures or donate online. To donate online, click the purple “Donate” button on our website. Once the Paypal Donation window opens,  enter the amount you want to donate and include “Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund” in the “In Honor of” box.

Everyone deserves access to a full, independent life. The Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund is one more step toward creating access for all.

Finding Community Through the Chicago Marathon

Elizabeth runs in the Chicago Marathon in a bright yellow tank top, waving at supporters near the Charity MileWhen running has been part of someone’s life for a long time, the next logical step might seem like completing a marathon — 26.2 miles of feet hitting the pavement and sweat dripping down your face. A ton of hard work goes into getting ready for a marathon. You might find yourself asking, “Why would anyone put themselves through a marathon?”

A familiar face many members of our community will recognize has an answer. Elizabeth Male began running at about age 10, and she completed her first half marathon in high school. She completed her first Chicago Marathon in 2012. This experience running leads you to believe she has always loved the sport, but Elizabeth used to hate running.

It wasn’t until she was in college that she started to enjoy running. “When I ran in college, it helped me balance my mental health and de-stress from classes,” Elizabeth says. This will be Elizabeth’s sixth time running the Marathon, partly because she enjoys the challenge but also because of the community she has developed.

Running the Chicago Marathon

In 2014, Elizabeth ran the Chicago MarathonElizabeth stands with another woman post-marathon in a heat sheet and running gear, demonstrating finding community. as part of Team CIF for the first time. The introduction of the lottery system meant she could secure guaranteed entry to the race by running for a charity. Luckily, Elizabeth had access to a great team at her fingertips. She took over planning for the team and decided to join the team to help with motivating other runners.

For Elizabeth, running as part of Team CIF is about the community she is part of. This year, she made the commitment to run the marathon before leaving her job at Center for Independent Futures. It has been an exciting way for her to remain involved after finding community. Elizabeth says, “I miss everybody, and I’m happy to be able to stay involved.”

Tips for Fellow Marathon Runners

One of the team’s most experienced runners, Elizabeth has advice for team members, plus anyone interested in joining next year. “The journey will be full of hard work, but it’s about achieving a challenging goal.” While having more experience running long distances might make this race less daunting, Elizabeth avoids falling into a trap by remaining motivated. No matter how many marathons she has run, Elizabeth needs to do the work like everyone else.

Elizabeth poses in front of Chicago skyline in orange tank top with her medal after Chicago MarathonAt the moment, Elizabeth is training for a race in July, and then she will begin preparing for the Chicago Marathon. She is looking forward to the race, especially getting to the Charity Mile, where our core group of participants and friends will be waiting to cheer on Team CIF! You can help Elizabeth meet her $1,500 fundraising goal by going to her CrowdRise team page and clicking the big red “Donate Now” button.

If you are interested in joining the 2019 team, reach out to Connor Larsen at (847) 328-2044 or by email. It’s never too early to think about your own hopes and dreams!

Runners Get Ready to Race

Chicago Marathon runners cheered on by supporters
Chicago Marathon runners cheered on by supporters

Have you ever dreamed of running a marathon? The challenge is tempting for many people, but especially for the 18 runners participating in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for Team Center for Independent Futures this year. On October 7th, these runners will gather at Grant Park to run 26.2 miles — or a collective 471.6 miles.

In the next four months, the runners on our team will be working hard to train safely. Training plans help marathon runners track their mile times, build endurance, and maintain a nutritious diet throughout preparation for the marathon. To help the runners prepare, you can support the team by helping them fundraise through their team pages on CrowdRise.

To donate, go to the Team Center for Independent Futures CrowdRise. You can select a specific team member, or you can donate to the general team page. Click the big red “Donate Now” button on the right side of the page to help the whole team, or click one of the runners’ names below to help a runner.

All of the funds raised by this team will help Center for Independent Futures continue creating innovative housing and planning solutions for individuals with disabilities and their families. Contact Connor Larsen or call (847) 328-2044 to learn more about supporting our Chicago Marathon team. Thank you for supporting Team Center for Independent Futures!

Chicago Marathon Center for Independent Futures Team

Kim Benton

Past team member Lucille holds arms out in victory after completing Chicago Marathon
Past team member Lucille holds arms out in victory after completing Chicago Marathon

 

Carlyn Berghoff

Ellen Burke

Kaitlin Dunn

Alex Finnegan

Will Kerns

Mark Kriston

Elizabeth Male

William Meyers

Ann Sickon

Jordan Sickon

Leslie Sickon

Marie Sickon-Burke

Susan Sickon

Alex Swift

Emmy Swift

Taryn Westra

(More team member pages will be added as we move forward.)

Smooth Riding for Bike the Drive

Lindsay and Mary Grace enjoying the sun after Bike the Drive.

For the seventh year, Center for Independent Futures’ Bike the Drive team joined thousands of other local bicyclists in the early morning on Sunday, May 27th to take advantage of a rare opportunity to bike Lake Shore Drive. Our team met at the office in Evanston just after 5 am, and then they were ready to go into the city and take on the Drive.

Though the day was one of Chicago’s hottest yet, our team stayed hydrated from beginning to end. Two staff members accompanied our team of nine participants and one family member along this unique stretch. For a couple of team members, this was their sixth year of riding with Center for Independent Futures, but the team also had a couple of new members this year too.

Bike the Drive may be just nine miles from its starting point, but most of our team chose to ride all the way back to Evanston! Though some of our newer team members chose to go back separately, the rest of the team each helped on the bike ride back to the office, from showing new riders directions to bringing up the caboose and keeping the team together.

For the rest of the summer, many members of our team will continue to go to Bike Club and practice the rules of the road. If you would like to contribute to the Bike the Drive team, you can still help them reach their fundraising goal!

How to Help the Dream Team

You can donate to an individual team member by clicking on their team member page, or you can donate to the whole team by clicking the bright orange “Donate Now” button. Each donation helps keep the Center for

12 members of Bike the Drive team pose for group photo.
Center for Independent Futures’ Bike the Drive team poses for a group photo.

Independent Futures calendar full of great activities for our community, supporting individuals in fulfilling their hopes and dreams.

Thank you for supporting Center for Independent Futures’ Bike the Drive team again this year!

Save the Date: Hamburger Mary’s HamBINGO

Are you ready to get your bingo on? Join us on Sunday, July 1st at Hamburger Mary’s for HamBINGO!

Hamburger Mary’s, located in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood at 5400 N Clark Street, offers an evening of risque, charitable fun. At Hamburger Mary’s, you will find gourmet burgers, house-brewed beers, and an evening unlike any other in the city.

What is HamBINGO?

Hamburger Mary's logo featuring a woman with beers and Andersonville buildings.
Join us at Hamburger Mary’s on July 1st!

This isn’t your grandma’s church bingo: At HamBINGO, the numbers are called by in-house diva Honey Brown and can be a little outside of the box. Leave the kids at home and get ready for a fun night!

For $15, you can purchase ten games of bingo, and you will be able to play twenty games of bingo for $25. All of the proceeds from bingo and raffle tickets benefit Center for Independent Futures, supporting our vision of a future where individuals with disabilities have access to all opportunities of a full life.

Join Us at Hamburger Mary’s

Tell your friends about this unique event, and invite them to come along! The more, the merrier we say – so come, drink, and be MARY with us July 1st at 8:00 pm. Find out more about the restaurant’s offerings on their website, and contact Niki Moe Horrell at (847) 328-2044 for more information.

BLOG UPDATE 6/15: Hamburger Mary’s now accepts reservations, so don’t forget to let them know you are coming in on July 1st to support Center for Independent Futures!  

Wrapping Up SPARK 2018

5 friends dressed beautifully pose for group photo at SPARK.
Friends celebrate at SPARK.

On April 27th, we danced the night away at the Hilton Orrington as we celebrated our 12th annual SPARK. Our SPARK 2018 celebration is a chance for us to honor our community full of participants, their families, and our generous supporters. As we enter our 16th year of serving the Chicagoland area, we want to extend a big thank you to everyone who has joined us along the way.

Leading up to dinner, we laughed together while bidding on donated auction items, playing Heads or Tails, and taking a chance on our gift card tree. We announced our fourth annual Jane Doyle Awesome Award winners, honoring staff member Cynthia Witherspoon, who has been with us for 11 years, our community partner Northwestern University, and participant Lindsay Tonyan. Each of these awards celebrates an extraordinary and AWESOME member of our community who helps us achieve our goals every year.

This year our live auction featured stellar packages including a trip to the South African Zulu Nyala reserve and daily photo safaris, as well as tickets to U2, Ed Sheeran, and Elton John, tickets to spring training in Arizona, a jam-packed St. Paddie’s Day weekend in Chicago, and a beautiful painting by our very own artist in residence and staff member Rob Larson. These exciting packages were snatched up quickly by enthusiastic bidders!

Entertainment and Delicious Desserts

Following the live auction, Euphoria Band opened up the dance floor with “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman. This night would not have been possible without the band, entertainment from Collaboraction, and support from our sponsors. We are especially grateful to our sponsors, including platinum sponsor PSAV, gold sponsor Sidley Austin LLP, silver sponsor First Bank & Trust of Evanston, and our bronze sponsors Inland BankMonahan Law Group, Northwestern University, and Rubin Law.

4 individuals gather around an orange chair at SPARK.
Group smiles for photo at SPARK.

 

The delicious desserts on display were donated by Bennison’s BakeryBeth’s Little Bake ShopFlat Top GrillLawrence Dean’s Bake ShopNothing Bundt CakesSweety Pies Bakery, and Three Tarts Bakery and CafeRevolution Brewing and Temperance Brewing Co  donated the night’s beer selection.

SPARK Success, Thanks to You!

We want to thank all who participated in the silent or live auctions, Heads or Tails, raffle, and our paddle raise. Because of you, SPARK 2018 was a great success and will help us continue supporting individuals with disabilities and their families. We couldn’t reach our own hopes and dreams without each and every one of you.

Find the professional photos from SPARK on Facebook today! Do you have pictures from SPARK? Post them to your favorite social media platform and be sure to tag them #SPARK2018 so we can see them too!

Success Stories

tue26may1:00 pm2:00 pmSocial Hour

tue26may3:00 pm3:30 pmGroup Meditation

tue26may4:30 pm5:00 pmAfternoon Exercise with Niki Moe

wed27may11:00 am11:30 amMorning Exercise with Niki Moe

wed27may4:00 pm5:00 pmYoga

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