Save the Date: SPARK 2019

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

What to Expect at SPARK!

4 individuals gather around an orange chair at SPARK.

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

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

Watch For More News

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

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

SPARK 2018 Awesome Awards

At SPARK, staff and Board members presented the fourth annual Awesome Awards to a staff member, a community partner, and a participant. This year’s winners exemplify Center for Independent Futures’ values of innovation, community partnerships, and diversity that have been the backbone of our organization for the last 16 years.

Staff Awesome Award

Features Cynthia, winner of staff Awesome AwardCommunity Life Coordinator Cynthia Witherspoon was the recipient of our staff award. Throughout her eleven years of dedication to Center for Independent Futures, Cynthia has demonstrated high-quality performance in each of the many areas she works, all while maintaining a positive attitude. Cynthia creates strong community connections and honors individual’s capabilities with kindness and creative perspectives. Cynthia’s hard work, consistency, and knowledge contribute to her ability to live the Center for Independent Futures philosophy.

Community Partner Awesome Award

Next, we honored community partner Northwestern University. Northwestern’s faculty and administrative staff have walked with us since we opened our doors, supporting us in a variety of ways, and assisting us to spread awareness of the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities living full lives in Evanston. As our partner, Northwestern University has created kind, caring, and respectful relationships with our organization and our participants.

Participant Awesome Award

Lindsay, participant Awesome Award winnerFinally, our participant awardee is Lindsay Tonyan. Lindsay is a perfect example of someone who is living a full life, taking appropriate risks to pursue new experiences and opportunities. A kind, welcoming, and encouraging person, Lindsay perseveres through obstacles to find a solution. She often volunteers to help out, and she is a role model for all as a positive representative of Center for Independent Futures.

We are grateful for the contributions from Cynthia, Northwestern University, and Lindsay. Our community is stronger because of these members. Congratulations to each of these winners on a well-deserved honor at SPARK!

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!

Our Top 10 Moments of 2017

Join Center for Independent Futures in celebrating our favorite moments from 2017, our fifteenth anniversary year. We look forward to supporting more full lives and stronger communities in 2018!

Our Top 10 Moments

  1. We published our 2016 annual report to share stories of support, including Nestor’s full life, students planning for the future, and communities 3 members of 2017 Bike the Drive team smile after successful ride.creating connections. Read the annual report here!
  2. Our annual SPARK gala was an evening of glamour under the stars. Staff member Rob Larson, participant Matthew LaChapelle, and community partner First Bank & Trust received Jane Doyle AWESOME! Awards. Check out the Facebook photo album here.
  3. Staff members traveled internationally to Canada to work with Community Living Essex County and across the country to train Club 21 in Pasadena, California. Click here to learn about our Full Life ProcessTM resources, being shared in Illinois and beyond.
  4. The Dream Team soared down Lake Shore Drive in Bike the Drive, raising funds for Center for Independent Futures while enjoying amazing views of the skyline and Lake Michigan. Read about the ride here.
  5. Life Tools Campers from Evanston Township High School explored their community and learned new skills. Find out where their week took them.
  6. Our young professional board welcomed new members, including a new board chair. Learn about the Auxiliary Board and how to get involved.
  7. Eight runners representing Team CIF took the 26.2 mile journey of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, every step supporting the journeys individuals with disabilities take along the way to full, independent lives. Read more about race day here.
  8. Our community celebrated Halloween in style at our annual party. Check out the creative costumes in our Facebook photo album here!
  9. We celebrated community and local cuisine at our fourteenth annual Executive Director Ann and Board co-chair Jeff smile at Something's Cooking. Something’s Cooking. This fall classic was updated with a new venue, new restaurants and breweries, and live music. Read more here.
  10. Our community raised over $27,000 in 24 hours on #GivingTuesday, supporting individuals with disabilities and the friends, family members, and communities that they interact with every day. Learn about the success here.

Highlights from SPARK 2017

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 BankMonahan Law Group, and Rubin Law. Dessert sponsors Bennison’s BakeryBeth’s Little Bake ShopEli’s CheesecakeFlat Top GrillLawrence Deans Bake ShopNothing Bundt CakesSweety Pies BakeryThree 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!

Third Annual Awesome Awards Presented

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.

Staff award winner Rob Larson looking to his left in front of blue background.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 & TrustFirst Bank & Trust of Evanston logo 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.

Participant award winner Matthew LaChapelle poses for portrait with hand on chin in front of teal background.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!

SPARK 2017 Live Auction Preview

SPARK 2017 is around the corner on April 28! Get a preview of one of the most exciting parts of the evening: the live auction. This year, the auction includes tickets to two of Chicago’s most-anticipated musical events, airfare for two and four nights in Orlando, Las Vegas, or Arizona, an incredible Evanston staycation, and a piece of original artwork.

CHOOSE YOUR GETAWAY
Four nights in Orlando, Las Vegas, or Arizona in a two-bedroom condominium that sleeps four
Airfare for two
Value: $2,100.00

JOSHUA TREE TOUR: U2 AND THE LUMINEERS
Two (2) tickets to see U2 and The Lumineers on June 4, 2017, at Soldier Field
With an overnight stay at the luxurious Fairmont Chicago and gift certificate to Boeufhaus
Value: $775.00

A NIGHT OUT WITH BRUNO MARS
Two (2) tickets to the Bruno Mars 24K Magic World Tour on August 16, 2017, at The United Center
With an overnight stay at the luxurious Fairmont Chicago and a gift certificate to Girl and the Goat
Value: $675.00

ORIGINAL PAINTING BY ROB LARSON
Storm Clouds Rolling Out At Dawn
Acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 24″
“There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen
From the artist: I woke up at 4 AM on my birthday to paint the sunrise over Lake Michigan, and when I got set up on the beach, a large storm was on the horizon. As the sun started to rise, the dark storm clouds were transformed into a full array of blues, purples, and pinks. Instead of rain, the sunrise brought the light. The sky was reflected in the water and the sunlight filled the space with color.

AN EVENING AT SPACE AND UNION
Enjoy a night out at one of Evanston’s best venues with a $100 gift certificate for tickets to any show at SPACE, a $100 gift certificate to Union Pizzeria, and an overnight stay at the Hilton Orrington.
Value: $550.00

Preparing for a Starry Night at SPARK 2017

In less than two months, Center for Independent Futures celebrates its fifteenth year at our signature event, SPARK, on Friday, April 28.

We are grateful to our sponsors who will satisfy our sweet tooth and our thirst, including the decadent flavors of Nothing Bundt CakesFlat Top Grill‘s famous brownies, and fine wines from E. & J. Gallo Winery. Our exciting silent and live auctions will include packages like Chicago getaways with tickets to see Bruno Mars at the United Center in August and U2 with The Lumineers in June at Soldier Field.

PSAV will help us set the scene and Chicago theatre group Collaboraction will provide the entertainment for this star-studded night. As we commemorate Center for Independent Futures’ fifteenth anniversary, community members will share stories and reflections. At the end of the night, be ready to dance to the sounds of Euphoria Band, a new addition to the event this year.

Tickets for the eleventh annual SPARK celebration, hosted at the Hilton Orrington in downtown Evanston, will be available online soon. For more updates, join the Facebook event here. All proceeds from this event, our largest fundraiser of the year, directly contribute to programming, services, and sustainability.

If you’re interested getting involved with SPARK by volunteering, contributing, or learning about sponsorship opportunities, contact Niki Moe at (847) 328-2044 or nmoe@independentfutures.com.

Success Stories

tue22jan1:30 pmtue2:30 pmWalking Club

tue22jan7:00 pmtue8:30 pmTalent Show & Best of Saturday Night Live

wed23jan3:30 pmwed5:30 pmHub 930 Drop-in Hours

thu24jan5:00 pmthu7:00 pmRestaurant Practice Night

fri25jan3:30 pmfri4:30 pmSocial Hour

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