Thirty years of dedicated and passionate work to help Chicago’s most vulnerable children came together on Thursday night, April 29th, for a power-hour of inspiration, a look down memory lane, and where our sights are set for the near future.

The event not only raised much needed funds (over $185,000!), but, more importantly, it raised awareness, spirits, unity, and hope – a much needed boost to what is currently going on in the world. 

  • 1 in 4 Chicago children live in poverty
  • 16,000 Chicago students are homeless
  • 60% of Chicago children live in neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence

While we learned about the plight of Chicago kids, we also heard how we are and can make a positive impact. Here are a few highlights of the evening:

The power of volunteering: Robin Robinson set the tone for an evening filled with unity, hope, and several heartfelt moments. She shared how Children’s Place’s work over the years has impacted her life and shared another volunteer story. Marla, a graduate student, came to Children’s Place in 1991 for a planned one-time service. As she dropped off 20 kid-sized quilts, a not quite two-year old grabbed her hand admiring her nail polish, and left an indelible impression on her. For the next two years, Marla volunteered weekly for the center and played with the little girl who stole her heart. Then, she found out the little girl was getting her forever home. While excited for her, she felt the pang of personal loss. Two years later, Marla saw the little girl at a holiday party in her party dress dancing with her mom. When Marla dropped off quilts one day to help vulnerable children, what she didn’t realize until much later… is how much meeting one vulnerable child would help her.

The power of advocacy: Alex Kotlowitz and Maria Woltjen received the 2021 Champion for Children Award for their decades of service as advocates for vulnerable children. Alex – a celebrated, author, journalist, and filmmaker – shared stories of a couple of young Chicago men that he wrote about in his books growing up in Chicago’s southwest neighborhoods. He shared the importance of not defining someone by their circumstance or a single moment of their lives, but rather getting to know them and who they are. Maria, who advocates for unaccompanied migrant children, shared the importance of listening to what the children need rather than telling them what they need. That is how we approach our work at Children’s Place – by listening to the needs of the community and gathering the resources to help.

The power of coming together: While our 2021 Gala is in the books, our work continues as the need for our services grows. We came together to honor and celebrate where we have been and share our plans as we look towards the future. If you missed out on this poignant and celebratory evening, you can still view the event here or become a Champion for Children by becoming a volunteer and/or donating today.

Details: Make sure to check out the program book too: 

Thank YOU!

Children’s Place Association extends a special thank you to everyone who made the 2021 Gala a tremendous success. Our impact in helping Chicago’s most vulnerable children would not be possible without YOU – our beloved community of volunteers, donors, sponsors, staff, vendors and partners!! A special thank you to our 2021 Once Upon a Time Gala Co-Chairs, George Aliaga and Danielle Haddad, as well as the other members of the Gala Committee, our Presenting Angel Sponsor, CNA, and our Founding Resource Partner for last night’s Child Thrive Fund-a-Program, Mesirow. (A complete list of Gala sponsors and donors will be posted on our website soon!)

Congratulations to the 2021 Gala Raffle Prize Winners!

  • Grand Prize Jewelry Set – Diana Ware
  • Second Prize Amazon Gift Card – Helen Welter
  • Third Prize Gift Basket – David Roseman

We are so grateful for your commitment to Chicago’s most vulnerable children as we continue to work toward an equitable and better tomorrow for them.  Stay tuned as Child Thrive gets started!