Why We’re Grateful 4 Her: Comedy Show Raises Money for Domestic Violence Victims in Chicago
Earlier this year $9 million dollars was cut from the state budget of Illinois for domestic violence shelters & non-profits, leaving many without housing benefits, clothes, food, and more. Each day three women die due to domestic violence in the U.S. and many families are impacted economically and emotionally due to these issues. It is important to not only continue to support these foundations but to educate those around us as well.

To shed light on this issue, a dynamic lineup of all female comedy benefited Chicago charity, Connections for Abused Women and Children (CAWC). The social initiative that focuses on the global impact of women, Grateful4Her, partnered with the local nonprofit to host a Comedy Night Fundraiser to raise money and awareness and talk about the issues at the forefront of domestic violence on Sunday, April 30, 2017, at Catalyst Ranch in the West Loop.

During this fundraising event, 90 percent of ticket sales went towards CAWC. There was also an extensive raffle filled with coloring books, wine bottles, and a Vera Bradley laptop case, that also went towards the donations. We also raised an additional $400 in the house for a special performance from the host and the founder of Grateful4Her, Kelly Page, Ph.D., who sang “Down Under.”

Talking about domestic violence doesn’t feel good – but it’s necessary to educate ourselves. And to do that, guests came together for a comedic performance, domestic violence trivia, and a finale of lip syncing – all on a Sunday night.

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I sat down with Kelly Page, Ph.D., to discuss more about the organization, Grateful4Her. Read more about this organization and mission below.

Windy City Cosmo: Can you tell us more about the inspiration for Grateful4Her?

 
Kelly Page: The female story and the stories of strong, smart women who were working hard, and not being recognized or valued for their work is what in-part inspired Grateful4Her. “Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property.”

Together, we can change this. Together we can see to it that women ARE valued for their words, their work and their ways in this amazing world of ours. We live in stories created through language. If we change the language, we can change the story. 
 
Grateful4Her is also in-part inspired by my own mother. I am grateful to my mother, and her story. She taught me how to be strong, how to work hard and importantly, how to speak up and have a voice. I am grateful for her example that she set for me and my sisters, and her generation has done for my generation and the ones that follow us.

Windy City Cosmo: You talked about changing the message for women everywhere is that the goal? Is that what you wish to gain with the campaign?
 
Kelly Page: Our mission is to change how we – men, women and especially the media, think and talk about the work, words, and impact of women. Women are powerful, smart and they work hard. Yet they are often devalued or not valued for their work. How women speak is highly criticized and the strengths of women often not valued as being that of a leader, or someone who is impacting/changing the world.

Women lead our communities, our schools and our home and families for millennia. As well as making big changes in different workforces and industries. If we also believe that if we change how we think, talk and value women, we can change how many women experience sexual harassment, sex discrimination and domestic abuse every day.

Windy City Cosmo: You mentioned that you did a lot of research on men and women, why do you think they shouldn’t be compared to one another?

Kelly I first starting researching men and women in the technology sector in the late 1990’s. Since then I have interviewed hundreds of men and women and across industries and professions and researched what are their similarities and differences. The biggest learning for me was how we live in a cultural model of constant comparison between men and women. When it is like comparing apples with oranges. Men and women are different and should be celebrated for their uniqueness, individually. So at Grateful4Her we do our best NOT to engage in comparative talk so we can give space to women to be celebrated as women, and men to celebrated for being men.

Windy City Cosmo: Can men participate?

Kelly Page: Absolutely, their are already video messages of men thanking the women in their life on the Grateful4Her site!

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Kelly Page, Ph.D., singing “Down Under” at the fundraiser event for Connections for Abused Women and Children. April 2017.

Interested in sharing who you are grateful for? It’s easy. You can answer three quick questions to share your video. See all the people that we are grateful for (including Kelly Page’s video) here. 
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Tortoise Supper Club Creates Cocktail For a Cause This April
River North Restaurant & Lounge Raising The Infant Welfare Society of Chicago During the Month of April 2017.

What if you could make the world a better place just by heading to a bar and ordering a drink?  Well, it’s a start.

Chicago’s Tortoise Supper Club (350 North State St. in Chicago, IL.  ) is helping diners do just that through their Cocktails for a Cause program.  Every month the metropolitan supper club, known for its steaks, chops and fresh seafood, partners with a Chicago non-profit to help raise awareness and funds for that organization.  The River North restaurant creates an original limited edition cocktail and donates $3 of every one sold to that month’s non-profit partner.

In April, Tortoise Supper Club is working to support The Angel Harvey Family Health Center – Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, a community health center that serves more than 13,000 patients from the city’s most vulnerable and medically underserved populations.  In honor of their April partnership, the team at TSC created Angel’s Elixir, a modern twist on the popular Brazilian Batida cocktail. This beverage combines Cachaça, Fresh Lime Juice and a housemade Strawberry Shrub (strawberry, apple cider vinegar and a touch of black pepper) to create a refreshing drink. The Angel’s Elixir is finished off with a sprig of aromatic Rosemary and some Candied Strawberry.

The Angel’s Elixir cocktail will be available through April 30th; $3 from every one sold will go directly to IWS.

Weekly Specials:

Weekly specials include Half Priced Signature Cocktails on Wednesdays, Sautéed Frog Legs and Buttermilk Battered Cod on Fridays, Northwoods Dry Rubbed Prime Rib on Saturdays and $1 Oysters / $1 Shrimp Cocktail from 4:30 – 6:30 pm on weekdays.

Happy Hour Cocktails:

Tortoise Supper Club does an awesome Happy Hour that includes $1 Oysters and $1 Shrimp Cocktail MondayFriday from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm.  They also offer Half-Priced Signature Cocktails on Wednesdays from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm.
Live Sinatra-style jazz music is played in the lounge every Friday and Saturday night.
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New Year’s EVE of the EVE Black Tie Fundraiser Gives Children a Better Chicago Education

New Year’s Eve is prom post high school. It’s a time to celebrate all that this year, 2015, was, while also putting our best step forward among friends, soon so be new friends, and our community.

This year start with a precursor to your New Year’s Eve celebrations. Slide into that Vera Wang dress, put on a dab of lipstick and start the new year in style—fashionably and charitably—at EVE of the EVE.

For the 22nd year, join 2,000 urban and young professionals in shutting down Union Station downtown (500 West Jackson Street) on the day BEFORE New Year’s Eve, Wednesday, December 30, 2015, for a night of black ties, premium spirits including Tito’s cocktails, and most importantly, a silent auction for one of Chicago’s non-profit organizations centered-on education, HighSight (315 West Walton Street).

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Eve of the Eve: South of 80 plays for nearly 2,500 guest at Union Station.

HighSight was started with a mission to give exceptional eighth grade students in poorer Chicago neighborhoods a chance to attend some of the best private 4-year high schools in Chicago through a scholarship program.

The program started in 1992 with five graduating students from Cabrini Green, and still has its offices in that Chicago neighborhood, though the program has expanded to numerous children coming from 35 Chicago elementary schools in the southside, westside and even northside.

Qualified students meet income requirements, and also contribute financially to the private school education. For a family of four, the income requirement is under $48,500, for instance.

Becoming a HighSight student also requires additional time commitment both in traveling and additional learning. Students travel between 30 minutes and an hour to attend Chicago private schools, once they are in the program. Then, they travel to the HighSight offices for additional tutoring, which includes Academic Study Sessions Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and Saturday mornings during the school year.

“It takes a special kid to be a HighSight student,”the founding director of HighSight, Mark Duhon, tells me, “95 percent are the first generation going to college.”

Volunteers include past graduates from the HighSight program, who  empower and teach 100 students to graduate Chicago high school and attend 4-year universities on scholarship.

Duhon notes that students receive between $25,000 and $60,000 in scholarships to 4-year colleges. This year, the greatest scholarship was $63,000 to a $61,000 4-year college.

All proceeds from EVE of the EVE will benefit HighSight’s scholarship. It is one of HighSight’s biggest fundraisers of the year.

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EVE of the EVE will start at 8:00 pm and last until 1:00 am at the Great Hall of Union Station on Wednesday, December 30, 2015.

$125 TICKETS

  • Open Bar
  • Heavy Hors d’oeuvres Buffet
  • Silent Auction
  • Cash Raffle
  • Live Music: Verzitile Band
  • DJ: Clik Entertainment
  • Dancing

                                                                                                                         $160 VIP TICKETS

     

  • Exclusive VIP Reception from 7:00 to 8:00 pm
  • Premium Spirits Bar
  • Heavy Hors d’oeuvres Buffet
  • Silent Auction
  • Cash Raffle
  • Live Music: Verzitile Band and Dairy Pill
  • DJ: Clik Enertainment
  • Dancing

Attire:  Black tie optional

The VIP ticket ($160) includes a pre-party at 7:00 pm with  hour d’oeuvres and premium spirits. In addition to the pre-party, VIP guests will enjoy a private balcony bar with continued premium spirits, a VIP hors d’oeuvres, buffet and access to additional restrooms.

Tickets are available for $125 or $160 for VIP in advance and may be purchased online at www.highsight.org.

Ticket prices will increase the day of at the door.

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A group of HighSight supporters, Andrew Landon, James Feeley, Jon Jesse, Kate Fundarek, and Job Landon celebrate at EVE of the EVE.

ShowBiz Shelly VIP Tickets Giveaway:

Chicago entertainment news reporter for B96 Radio (96.3 FM), Showbiz Shelly, is offering a special giveaway for two VIP tickets to EVE of the EVE to benefit HighSight.

Hurry! The last day to enter is Wednesday, December 23, 2015. All of the details for the VIP Ticket EVE of the EVE giveaway are here.

Send a Shout Out on Social Media:

I can’t wait for you to join the New Year’s EVE of the EVE celebration for 2016.  Let me know you are going on Instagram or Twitter.

Tag #EveoftheEve and include HighSight (@HighSightChi) and Windy City Cosmo (@WindyCityCosmo) in your shout outs!

Cheers to another year of parties, good business and philanthropy with great people in a beautiful city, Chicago.

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Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market Opens in Bucktown with a Donation to FAB-U-WISH and Breast Cancer Research

“As a young woman, my struggles were different,” said breast cancer survivor, Mary Gustafson, who was diagnosed at the age of 29. “I am not thinking about how I will tell my kids, I’m thinking if I can have kids.”

“Will I ever have love and acceptance after losing my hair and losing my boobs?

Fresh Thyme Donates to Breast Cancer Research

Mary is one of many recipients of FAB-U-WISH, an organization founded by TV Personality, Giuliana Rancic that grants wishes for women battling breast cancer.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market (2500 N. Elston Ave.) had a special pre-grand opening on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 to support both FAB-U-WISH and The Pink Agenda, two organizations in partnership that raise money for breast cancer research and also help women who have breast cancer feel wonderful.

Fresh Thyme presented a check for $20,000 to The Prink Agenda and FAB-U-WISH. In addition, they also donated 10 percent of purchases from the night and from special pink breast cancer awareness bags to the foundations.

Fresh Thyme Donates to Breast Cancer Research Photo: Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets

The FABtober pink carpet event included two pink carpets and pink balloon bunches throughout the grocery store, complete with an apple cider fountain, a chocolate fondue fountain, and live music.

Giuliana Rancic Talks Breast Cancer

There was a line of women and men near the fresh ground coffee to meet Giuliana Rancic. She opened the night from 5:00 – 6:00 pm speaking about FAB-U-WISH and breast cancer. She stayed to meet guests and sign pink limited edition reusable bags and her latest beverage, Xo, G, a full wine bottle sectioned into pre-filled glasses of premium wine for individual servings.

In line, some had pink lined purses. Others wore pink dresses. I turned around and I saw four-inch pink stilettos.

“I love your shoes,” I said.

She smiled back at me. She had neat, long chocolate-brown hair and a black fringe skirt.

“I want to be like her,” I thought.

She was so stylish and composed, and she had an equally chic friend waiting in line with her.

When I met Rancic for the photo op, she was beautiful, vibrant and energetic, as seen on E! News. Not only is she a breast cancer survivor, but she is helping many young women along the way with their journey to recovery by helping them feel fabulous.

I told Rancic that I was interviewing the breast cancer survivor who won a wish from her foundation, FAB-U-WISH. She pointed to the woman in the pink stilettos, “That’s Mary.”

Mary—the woman who I wanted to be, survived breast cancer.

It was time to take my photo with Rancic. I smiled, but my face was still awash with the realization.

FAB-U-WISH Recipient, Mary’s Story

Mary first learned that she had breast cancer four years ago at 29 years old.

Windy City Cosmo: How did you feel when you heard the news?

Mary: Like I wanted to crawl into a hole. Everything changed. 

Windy City Cosmo: How did you discover that you had cancer?

Mary: I felt a lump. It took a month. The doctor’s were 99 percent sure that I didn’t have cancer. They said it is such a small percentage (because I was young).

Windy City Cosmo: Did you work?

Mary: I am a nurse. I worked through it all. They (my coworkers) knew if I went to the bathroom, I would be throwing up for an hour. 

Windy City Cosmo: Did you take time off? 

Mary: I took intermittent time. After the double mastectomy, I took six weeks off.

Mary had to have several reconstruction surgeries after her double mastectomy.

Windy City Cosmo: Did you tell your boss? If so, what was their reaction? 

Mary: I told my boss. She was great. Two days before going on chemo, she moved me to day shift. I was working night shift and it takes years to get to that status.

Windy City Cosmo: How do you feel about how organizations are bringing awareness to breast cancer? 

Mary: I think there is a right way to gain awareness. I was never a ra ra dress myself in pink girl. I had a bitterness towards it. I hated my situation. 

Windy City Cosmo: How did you hear about FAB-U-WISH? 

Mary: As a young woman, my struggles were a little different. Giuliana’s organization focused more on needs of younger women.

I am not thinking about how I will tell my kids, I’m thinking if I can have kids…will I have a husband? Will I ever have love and acceptance after losing my hair and losing my boobs?

I kindof stalked Giuliana. I was like, “Oh my God, yes, young people finally have a voice—a face.” She was diagnosed and the next day she was going to bat for us.

Windy City Cosmo: What was your support group like?

Mary: I had a lot of friends that walked away from me. You go from going out every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday..(and then telling them) I feel like shit. I am going through chemo.

I was lucky to have a core group of friends.

Windy City Cosmo: What was your FAB-U-WISH? 

Mary: My FAB-U-WISH was for them—my core group of friends.

I applied online. I am pretty sure I finished off a bottle of Pinot Noir. I was very emotional. I had forgotten that I applied.
My wish was to have a party at RPM for my “A Team,” that’s what I call them.

We overstayed our welcome. They had food and an open bar. They had us in a private room. I had chosen the menu before hand. Fifteen people came.

Mary’s wish was granted this past May 2015.

Windy City Cosmo: Are you currently involved with FAB-U-WISH?

Mary: I am talking about FAB-U-WISH. I got my friends and family geared up. It’s great now that Giuliana’s here. There isn’t a Chicago chapter here. All offices are on the east coast. Hopefully there will be more events. 

Windy City Cosmo: If you could offer one piece of advice for a young woman going through breast cancer, what would it be? 

Mary: It gets better. It never leaves you. You are always scared. You are always worried about every single cough.

Windy City Cosmo: How did you get through the tough times? 

Mary: I put together “Mary’s top 10 list of fries in Chicago,” because that’s the only thing I could eat. I would bring a glass of wine to my surgeon’s office…I didn’t feel sorry for myself.

It’s not lost on me that young women had worse scenarios than I had. They are single moms or new moms or they lost their job. 

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Top Chefs Come Together for 11th Annual Big Night Out

It’s 6:00 pm. It’s starting. But nobody’s going in quite yet.

The white, infectiously happy puppy has the spotlight. We all start to pull out our phones and take photos from multiple angles. These puppies are after all the red carpet, special guests of the night. And just like America’s sweetheart, we are captivated and can’t help but support them. They are the reason we are all here. Here at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602), for the 11th Annual Big Night Out on Thursday, October 8, 2015.

Big Night Out is the largest fundraiser event for Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control (FCACC), a Chicago non-profit organization that saves over 20,000 animals that came into custody of Chicago Animal Care and Control (ACC). Through FCACC, Chicagoans and area residents can foster or adopt pets who need it the most.

Everything is dog themed. It’s not a Cosmo anymore. It’s a Cosmopoodleton. It’s not just a bicycle, it’s a St. Germain bicycle.

We all start to slowly move around the Cultural Center. There are top chefs from iconic restaurants. Big Night Out started from one of those chefs’ visions’. Chef Jackie Shen of The Stray Dog started Big Night Out and still remains an integral part of the event.

The Auction:

This year’s big live auction package includes a weekend getaway to Michigan including a private in-home dinner party for you and nine guests prepared specially by Chef Jackie Shen.

The auction items included, “Sit. Stay. Play,” which had Blackhawks memorabilia and “Well Groomed,” which included a Helen Ficalora necklace. Other items included a two-night stay at the Drake Hotel.

Doggie Bag Needed:

While everything was dog themed, we were missing one thing, a doggie bag.

The food was irresistible and there was just too much to try it all.

“Do a lap, see what you like,” one veteran attendee informed me, “But don’t waste your calories on this one,” she smiled putting down her sandwich.

The food included fall-inspired dishes from some of the most venerable Chicago restaurants.

“You have to try the lobster bisque!” one man raved.

“Acadia is one of  the most expensive restaurants in Chicago. It’s easily a thousand bucks a meal,” he said leading me to their table.

He waited as I tasted Chef Ryan McCaskey’s lobster bisque. It tasted like Halloween for adults. It’s so sweet, but it had buttery undertones.

Big Night Out Big Night Out

Acadia (1639 S. Wabash Ave.) was one of many first-time supporters to participate in Big Night Out. Others included Vanille, Rosebud, and Raw Bar.

Although everyone agreed at our table that the lobster bisque was exceptional, I was still holding out for Taco in a Bag (4603 N. Lincoln Ave.). It didn’t need avocados. It had a perfect Chipotle sauce. What I loved most was that I looked classy chowing down on my taco neatly packaged in a bag as everyone swirled elegant pasta dishes and lobster bisque.

Top Chicago Chefs:

I spoke with Laura Piper, the Executive Chef at One North Kitchen & Bar (1 N. Upper Wacker Dr  #250)  She is good friends with the owner of Taco in a Bag and agreed that his tacos were really good.

I immediately warmed up to her.

“What inspired this dish?” I asked, tasting the sliced pear in her amuse bouche.

“Fall, and I really like Robiola cheese,” Chef Piper smiled, “Our food is every man type of food,” she paused,  “or every woman—if you will.”

Another favorite of the evening were the Common Tacos from Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie St.). Corporate Chef Aldo Ayala is originally from Mexico, where he had six dogs.

“I really love dogs,” Chef Ayala said.

Since moving to New York, and then opening up three restaurants in Chicago, he added, “I have to travel a lot like every week or every other week.”

At this time, he doesn’t have any pets, but he is happy to support animals in creative ways such as in this setting.

Live Entertainment:

The night was complete with SMK Photobooth, which included dog themed props and zebra glasses. As one of the first people to try the photo booth, I was instantly photo-boomed.

Other entertainment included the lively violinists from Cover Girl, a group of women who use the entire event space to entertain guests individually, yet as one with their purple electric guitars and pop and rock renditions of popular songs.

Donate to Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control:

There’s still time to help puppies and cats by donating or learning more about adopting a pet. Please visit FCACC for more information.

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