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

It was an awesome week at Center for Independent Futures’ Life Tools Camp at the Evanston Township High School Transition House. Camp was full of new experiences – at the Transition House and in the community.

Camp began with budgeting for the week: meals, groceries and public transportation. With this task accomplished, the group headed into downtown Evanston on the bus with plans for lunch at a restaurant and a day of exploring. It was a beautiful day, so lots of people were out enjoying the warm sunshine and beautiful fountains. A street map of Evanston helped locate the frozen yogurt shop where all enjoyed a tasty treat before heading back to the house.

Every day was just as busy: preparing lunch, doing laundry, completing a community service project for the City of Evanston, riding the bus, dining out, exploring the Evanston Public Library, playing mini golf, and a visit to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. Learning to use the Ventra machine at the busy Davis Street Transportation Center was a useful activity, and comparing the cost to eat out or cook in was surprising. Cooking in cost $5 per person, but eating out was around $8…it was easy to see that preparing meals is most cost effective and it’s also really fun to cook with friends!

Learn more about camp and see our photos...

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The Woman’s Club of Evanston (WCE) has selected CIF as their One-Time Clubhouse Usage Beneficiary for 2014. Center for Independent Futures has chosen to use this grant as a means to gather individuals in the Community Enriched Living, Our Place and CIF communities together for a Halloween celebration and costume party at WCE’s historic, elegant Clubhouse venue.

Opportunities for individuals with disabilities for social engagement in the community are scarce. Most individuals have small personal networks and live isolated lives. This event will bring CIF’s mission to life, by promoting inclusion, building community, and offering a place to make connections and form new relationships.

This generous gift from the WCE is especially meaningful given the strong parallels between CIF and the WCE, each similarly born through the efforts of visionary women sharing common interests and concerns for the community. The WCE has generously supported CIF in past years, having selected CIF as their 2010 Benefit Show Beneficiary. We are so grateful to WCE for this making this wonderful space available.

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Back to School (or any shopping) is something we just HAVE to do. Now you can do it and benefit CIF at the same time. Here are two great ways!

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support Center for Independent Futures every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to CIF!

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases.

Get Started! To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. In the box marked “Pick your own charitable organization” enter Center for Independent Futures. Click on search and then click on Center for Independent Futures, Evanston. Drag the Amazon.Smile box from the pop up window to your bookmarks or favorites bar to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.

GoodShop can turn your online shopping into donations for CIF in a few easy steps and at no cost! Shop your favorite on-line sites through GoodShop and a percentage of your purchase will be donated to CIF. works with more than 5,000 stores (including Target, Apple, Petsmart etc.) When you shop through the GoodShop Site as a CIF supporter, every time you purchase something, a percentage will be donated to us! And, even more exciting, GoodShop also offers over 100,000 of the most up-to-date coupons and free shipping offers so you can save money at the same time. It’s win win.

Get Started! Join the rest of our community in using GoodShop to help us easily raise money for our mission. Use this link to get started. Select the “Get Started Button” and then search for Center for Independent Futures. Choose us from the list. Finally sign up through Facebook or Login to begin shopping and supporting CIF!

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Have Dreams Academy is helping young adults with autism gain the skills and experience they need for successful employment. With hands-on job training at real world work sites, classroom tutoring and interview/resume prep, Have Dreams Academy equips young adults with tools that help them succeed in the workplace.

Have Dreams Academy draws on almost two decades of research and expertise in providing best practice intervention for youth and families with autism. Have Dreams professionals are trained and experienced in providing assessments and intervention methods based on the unique challenges and abilities of young adults on the autism spectrum. The program provides an individualized approach to maximize independence for each person.

Download this flyer for session dates, location and cost.

Our fall class is filling now! Please contact Sara LaMontagne at or 847-905-0702 ex. 246 for more information.

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Center for Independent Future’s Volunteer Club brings together CIF participants, older adults, and Northwestern University students to engage in volunteer projects. For the month of July, volunteers engaged in two unique projects. The first was in collaboration with residents at Mather Pavilion and involved making dried flower art for palliative care patients. For the second project, volunteers made magnets with tips for environmental sustainability.

At Mather Pavilion, nearly twenty volunteers worked together to arrange and attach dried flowers to clear plastic sheets. The final pieces had a beautiful stained glass effect. The colorful petals and designs were striking. The artwork was donated to palliative care patients at a local North Shore University Health System location. We hope that the pieces brought some of the beauty and happiness of summer indoors. This collaboration was particularly exciting because we were able to connect with our Auxiliary Board president, Hillarie. She is a palliative care nurse and helped to facilitate the donation with patients that she supports.

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It’s hard to believe that the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is only two months away! Center for Independent Futures’ 2014 Team is dedicating time to training and fundraising as the countdown to race day continues.

On October 12th, seven enthusiastic supporters will run 26.2 miles to support the hopes and dreams of individuals with disabilities and their families. Runners have a variety of connections to CIF...the team is made up of family members and friends of participants, a CIF staff member, an Auxiliary Board member, and community supporters who embrace the mission of CIF. We are so appreciative for the commitment of each of our runners!

While the runners have been training for months for the big race, the push for fundraising is just kicking off. As the heat of summer continues and training intensifies, now is the best time to support Team CIF by donating to individual runners or the team as a group. Team CIF 2014 hopes to raise $10,000 this year, but they need your support!

So far, we’re 12% of the way there. We need you to help us make our goal a reality! To donate, follow this link. There, you can donate to the team by clicking the red “Donate to this Fundraiser” button or scroll down on the page and select an individual runner to support.

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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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