The multi-generational women of the Winnetka Board know how to put on a good party—and how to get the Northwestern Settlement’s important work done.
Last year, the Winnetka Board of Northwestern Settlement touched more than 40,000 lives in Chicago in some way.
To fund this vital work, “Big Laughs for Bright Futures” takes place on Friday, February 8 at 6 p.m. at Artifacts Events in Chicago. This marks a departure from the Winnetka Board’s “Style Under the Stars” fashion show, which the board put on for the last 92 years.
The ladies of the Winnetka Board knew it was time for a change in its main fundraising event. As participation waned, the ladies brainstormed ideas to reinvigorate the event and also attract a wider audience.
“The board decided to take a different bent,” says Anne Mueller, an active and dedicated Winnetka Settlement board member for the past 25 years. As part of this, the board un- dertook a rebranding effort and launched “Spotlight on the Settlement,” which will allow them to do just that.
The first initiative and event as part of this new branding is “Big Laughs for Bright Futures, an evening of cocktails and comedy. In a deliberate departure from fashion, one of the evening’s highlights will be a custom produced comedy act by the cast of the acclaimed The Second City in Chicago.
“The group wanted a new approach that includes spouses and appeals to a broader cross-section of guests,” says Emily Tzur, Kenilworth resident, Winnetka Board member since 2015, and co-chair of the event. “We want people to have a great time for a great cause.”
That cause is Northwestern Settlement.
For 126 years, the Settlement has nurtured, educated, and inspired children and families in need in Chicago by providing programs that enable families to break the cycle of generational poverty. Founded in 1923, the Winnetka Board has helped support this mission by nurturing, educating, and inspiring these families.
“One of the biggest problems around Chicago is crime and violence,” says Kathy Carbonell, Wilmette resident, Winnetka Board member since 2015, and co-chair of the event with Tzur. “The only way that is broken is by giving young people education and hope. To do that, you need to give them access to opportunities to reach new things.”
One way the Winnetka board accomplishes its education objective is with Rowe Elementary School, an open enrollment, K-8 charter school with 1,000 students. The Northwestern Settlement of Chicago opened Rowe in 2009 to provide a safe environment where high-risk children can get the unique support they need to succeed.
The school was rated a Level 1+ by Chicago Public Schools for the past school year. Much of the money raised at “Big Laughs for Bright Futures” will be directed to the many programs and initiatives at Rowe Elementary.
That’s why the women’s board is hoping for a big turnout to what promises to be a unique and entertaining night out.
“The new event will be upscale and more casual,” says Mueller. In addition to the comedy element, guests will enjoy custom cocktails and craft beer tastings, and small bites. Jazz band, The Shimms, and a strolling magician will kick off the evening.
Donations of custom bourbon and tequila cocktails created by Sazerac and craft beers provided Lagunitas and Brickston Brewery, plus wine fill out the bar.
The women’s board has maintained strong partnerships and sponsors over the years that continue to support the Settlement’s important work. Neiman Marcus, which was integral to the success of last year’s fashion show, is working with the women’s board to design the décor and set for the evening as well as put on some smaller fashion events throughout the year.
Other event partners not previously mentioned include Hearty Boys catering company—owned by former Food Network stars Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith—that will cater a majority of the food for the evening.
Some big raffle prizes and a paddle raise will cap off the evening. The “French Flair” raffle prize winner will go home with a Classic Chanel clutch, Chanel sunglasses, and Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere along with dinner at the French bistro, La Sardine (package valued at $4,000). “Choose Your Own Adventure” allows the prize winner to select among several prime destinations for a luxurious four-night trip (package valued at $6,000), and
“Luxury and Laughs” includes a spa treatment at Metamorphosis Spa, a Skandal gift certificate, dinner at Twin Anchors and tickets to the main stage at The Second City (valued at $1,000).
As the event draws closer, Tzur reflects. “Doing something new has allowed a lot of personal growth for our members. Taking this turn has encouraged our members to take on new roles and try new things.”
“We believe in giving a hand up, not a hand out,” sums up Mueller. “The Settlement’s goal is to break the concept of generational poverty through multi-programming and accomplish our mission to nurture, education, and inspire.”
Tickets are $250 per person. For tickets, visit winnetkaboard.ejoinme.org/biglaughs.