Author: jmeddy Created: 11/5/2009 12:36 PM
General Organization News Posts

Beth Emet, The Free Synagogue has awarded Center for Independent Futures (CIF) a 2014 Tzedakah Fund Grant for its heARTwords workshop activity. CIF Life Skills Tutor, Barry Siegel is the founder and facilitator of heARTwords workshop, a program created to encourage participants with special needs, gifts and disabilities to express their feelings, observations, and imaginations through the written word. Barry has been leading heARTwords workshops for CIF Participants and Community Members as part of CIF monthly activities offerings since October, 2009.

Knowing that the written word is as powerful an expressive art form as drawing, painting, sculpture, dance or theatre, heARTwords aims to bring out each participant’s voice, empowering their creativity and self-expression, while creating a close and inclusive participant community. This is significant, because helping individuals with disabilities build communication skills is critical to their effective self-advocacy.

Tzedakah Grant funding will enable acquisition of inspirational books and media for a heARTwords resource library, providing a broad selection of creative prompts to spark imagination and writing, along with books for participants to guide writing style. Tzedakah Grant funding will also provide refreshments for heARTwords Workshops, promoting social interaction and friendship as they are shared.

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Koi, located at 624 Davis Street in Evanston, is dedicating their most sought after table, Table 23, to Center for Indpendent Futures! Table 23 is the best table in the house...sitting right in the windows facing Davis Street. This table is dressed with a linen, special plating, and a centerpiece. Each day during the month of August, 20% of the proceeds from that table will be donated to CIF.

In order to support CIF and have a great meal at the same time, supporters need to do the following:

  • Call 847-866-6969 and make a reservation specifically for Table 23 during the month of August. You may NOT just walk in and request the table. (This helps KOI track the numbers, as managment is made aware of the reservation.)
  • Table 23 does not accept discounts of any kind. This way the full amount possible comes to CIF.
  • 20% of the subtotaled bill (minus tax and gratuity) goes to CIF.
  • Table 23 can be reserved for a 2-hour time slot in the evenings and a 1-hour tie slot during lunch.

We are so excited to be Koi's August "Charity of the Month" and all proceeds from this partnership will go toward supporting Center for Independent Futures' work supporting individuals with disabilitiest to live full, independent lives in their communities.

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The past few months were busy for CIF's Volunteer Club. At the beginning of May, volunteers met at Mather Pavilion to make fleece tie pillows for use by students at District 65's Park School. Using recycled fleece scraps, volunteers worked to tie large pieces of fleece together and insert stuffing to create colorful, soft pillows.

The donation drop-off of the pillows was just as exciting as the project itself! Sandra, a CIF community member, avid volunteer, and former Park School student, helped deliver the pillows and where she was excited to catch up with a former teacher. The teacher and her students were so welcoming and grateful for the donation.

When the weather finally took a turn for the better, volunteers gathered at one of CIF’s Community Living Option residences to plant bright flowers in the backyard and make the space colorful, beautiful, and inviting for summer BBQs and picnics. Volunteers got down and dirty and the results were fantastic!

In June, Volunteers were tasked with putting together 45 breakfasts for Connections for the Homeless' EntryPoint Drop-In program, located at a nearby church. Connections for the Homeless is a non-profit that provides housing, employment and supportive services to move individuals and families out of the shadow of homelessness.

Volunteers packaged granola and put together fruit, orange juice, and yogurt in bags decorated with cheerful stickers and positive good morning messages. The packaged breakfasts were delivered to Connections to be distributed the next day. We hope that a healthy breakfast and positive notes help start the day off in the right direction for our Evanston neighbors!

Check out more volunteer club photos...

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Every year, a group of dedicated athletes make the ultimate commitment to Center for Independent Futures (CIF): to run 26.2 miles in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and raise at least $1000 for CIF programs and services. Since 2007, Team CIF has raised over $100,000 by running for possibilities.

On Tuesday, July 8th, from 4-7 p.m. you can support Team CIF! The Evanston Potbelly Sandwich Shop – located at 630 Davis Street – will generously donate 25% of all sales to Team CIF. Funds raised will directly support CIF services and programs. Please spread the word to family and friends and join us that evening for a "sandwich with a cause." 

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Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) has awarded Center for Independent Futures (CIF) a 2014-2015 Responsive Grant to develop and pilot a series of Online Ability Awareness Modules focused on optimizing the participation of individuals with disabilities across multiple integrative settings, with special relevance to the workplace. These Modules will help businesses and organizations develop and integrate person-centered language and practices, build community and natural supports, as well as create an organizational culture capitalizing on each individual’s skills, talents and interests in order to maximize everyone’s participation and success.

CIF will pilot the Ability Awareness Modules with an Evanston business helping them integrate employees with disabilities into their workplace, and also utilize these Modules to engage and support other local businesses in providing integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities across a variety of work settings. Creative Employment Opportunities will collaborate with CIF on Module development and data collection.

This initiative strongly aligns with the Illinois Employment First Act (IL PA-098-0091) which advocates for competitive employment within integrated settings for individuals with disabilities, and also supports Evanston community initiatives directed at fostering innovative employment models for Evanston’s opportunity youth. Evanston Community Foundation is a longtime and much valued supporter of CIF programs and initiatives.

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Open Communities recently announced the winners of its 2014 Justice Awards for outstanding initiative to foster north suburban communities that are welcoming and inclusive for all. Recipents of this year's Jean R. Cleland Award are long-time CIF supporters Ed and Ellen McManus. The “Say Yes!” Awards Benefit for Open Communities will take place on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at the Evanston Woman’s Club, 1702 Chicago Avenue, at 6:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, click here.

“Ed and Ellen McManus are outstanding examples of drawing from one’s own life experiences to better the world for others,” said Open Communities’ Executive Director Gail Schechter. “As the parents of a daughter who is disabled, they have worked not only on behalf of people with disabilities in housing, small businesses, public accommodations, schools, but also for racially and economically diverse housing, gun control and peace.”

The McManuses were instrumental in convincing the Village of Wilmette in 1988 to allow group homes and to expand the scope of its Housing Assistance Program, originally only for seniors. Individually and jointly, they have held leadership roles with the District 39 School Board, the Wilmette Housing Commission, Fellowship of Reconcilitation, Chicago Area Peace Action and numerous commissions supporting youth and disabilities. They are two of the founders of Wilmette Cares, a grassroots advocacy campaign championing Wilmette as an affordable, inclusive and accessible community.

Wilmette resident Jean Cleland, who died in September 2013, also was inspired by her deep religious faith to dedicate her life to justice. In bestowing its first Cleland Award, Open Communities is recognizing Ed and Ellen as individuals who carry out this ethic by making the northern suburbs a welcoming place.

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The Arc of Illinois is awarding their 2014 Legislator of the Year Award to Representative Robyn Gabel for her work advocating for people with developmental disabilities and sponsoring bills that benefit persons with disabilities. The Award Ceremony will take place on Wednesday, June 11, from 4 - 6 p.m. at Center for Independent Futures, 1015 Davis Street, Evanston, IL.

"We are thilled to honor Robyn Gabel with this award," said Tony Paulauski, Arc of Illinois Executive Director.  "Rep. Gabel is a strong advocate in the General Assembly for human services and health care access.  She has sponsored many bills that benefit persons with diaabilities, including two important special education bills in 2013 that were both signed into law.  Rep. Gabel is also the sponsor this year of HB 3698, which is the House bill on wage increases for direct care staff in community residential settings for persons with developmental or intellectual disabilities," added Paulauski.

Rep. Gabel chairs the House Human Services Committee and is the Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee. She is formerly the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (now Everthrive).  

Please come join in the Arc Award Ceremony and celebration.  To RSVP, call Center for Independent Futures at 847.328.2044.

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Join SPACE and The Arts of Life in welcoming Van Go Go, an incredible band of musicians with and without developmental disabilities. This show is FREE and starts at 1:00 p.m.  SPACE is located at 1245 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL. 

Van Go Go's dance-inducing music is a blend of rock, reggae, and funk infused with their infectious energy. This performance will be recorded to produce the band's first live album. The event is open to the public, so come and enjoy great music by an inspiring group of local musicians.

For more information on Van Go Go, visit The Arts of Life website.

Download a FREE mp3 of "Get the Dinosaurs on the Phone!" a full length rock opera music video.

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The sun was barely up at 5:15 a.m. when Center for Independent Futures’ Dream Team Riders gathered at CIF’s Evanston office to Bike the Drive. Thirteen of CIF’s 22 riders piled into taxi vans and they, along with a bicycle-packed truck, headed for Buckingham Fountain where the team gathered to start their ride.

The weather was picture perfect for the team’s 11-mile ride up Lake Shore Drive. At the fountain, team members met up with Executive Director, Ann Sickon and her three children. Everyone enjoyed a banana, grabbed a bottle of water, and off they rode! Each rider had a partner, but the CIF Dream Team stuck pretty close together for most of the ride. Rest stops with healthy energy snacks, water stations and porta potties were located all along the route. The road was full of riders enjoying the opportunity to bike along Lakeshore Drive free of automobile traffic on this one special day!

You can still support CIF's Dream Team! Click here...

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It was another memorable night for everyone that attended Center for Independent Futures’ (CIF) 8th annual SPARK gala held at Galleria Marchetti on April 25, 2014. Close to 400 guests attended the event to pay tribute to CIF’s Co-Founder, Jane Doyle, as she transitioned into her new role of Director of Special Projects.

This year’s theme was Vintage Circus – complete with a photo booth and magician. People were awe-struck and are still wondering how Brian, the magician, made one of the guests disappear!

Ann Sickon, Executive Director of CIF and Master of Ceremonies, CIF Board Co-Chair, Jeff Boarini welcomed our guests under the “Big Top” tent for dinner, the program and dancing. Galleria Marchetti’s new tent was a perfect fit for our guests, offering a cozy feel with room to dance to the music of our favorite long standing Spark band. With an awe-inspiring sound that gets everyone on the dance floor, Underwater People creates an inclusive format for everyone in attendance – even allowing some people to sing with the band on stage! “I look forward to this event every year,” says CIF participant Jeanne Malcolm. “SPARK was excellent…the meal, program, and music were all great!”

“I’ve been working with CIF for just six short months, and I have more fun with each special event we host,” stated CIF’s new Development Manager, Niki Moe Horrell. “This crowd knows how to host an awesome event and raise money for an important mission at the same time. All of the night’s proceeds will go to support the many services CIF currently offers to individuals as well as create sustainability for the future,” added Niki.

One of this year’s SPARK highlights was a tribute to Co-Founder Jane Doyle who transitioned into her new role on January 1st when Ann Sickon became CIF’s new Executive Director. Jane's family members flew in for this special event to participate in the program and join in the celebration.

Read more to learn about the AWESOME Award and see this year's photos...

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