On Tuesday, May 16, Center for Independent Futures returned to its origins by hosting a conversation of families around a table. For the fourth year, we participated in Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table initiative. This regionwide movement gathers individuals for important discussions about how to strengthen communities.
Our conversation over dinner focused on creating natural supports for individuals with disabilities and forming the relationships that help sustain full lives into the future. The group was made up of staff members and parents, including members of our Board of Directors.
Led by Northwestern professor emeritus Dr. Paul Arntson, group members brainstormed ways their loved ones with disabilities are involved with community. Themes in the conversation included the importance of both intra- and inter-community relationships, reciprocity, and the power of volunteerism as a basis for friendships.
The conversation will guide our work in future efforts like our Community Connectors and Bridge Builders Project, which grows individuals’ personal networks by connecting them with community members who share their interests. We’re grateful for the insights of our community and look forward to hosting another discussion next year. For more information about On the Table, visit www.onthetable.com.
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 email@example.com or (847) 328-2044.
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
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
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
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.
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 Cakes, Flat 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Center for Independent Futures for a biking experience like no other at MB Bike the Drive. On May 28, Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive will be closed to cars, leaving eight lanes available to bikers. Watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan and take in stunning views of the 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.
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 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 join the Dream Team, contact Niki Moe at (847) 328-2044 or email@example.com.