The strides that Rush University System for Health (RUSH) has made over the last seven decades to improve health care throughout Chicago are beyond impressive.
Since 1948, the academic health system has been integrating top quality patient care, education, research, and community service through its university colleges, hospitals, and community partnerships (garnering national recognition for leadership in all three areas). But the real “wow” factor is RUSH’s enduring leadership in health equity—one that has effectively dismantled longstanding barriers to the economic and physical health of under-privileged residents from its home on the west side of Chicago, blazing trails for the nation to follow.
Cindy Nicolaides, president of the Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center, says that those trailblazing achievements are part of what inspires her, and a loyal team of volunteers, to help RUSH expand its mission.
“Working together with the accomplished women that are board members to raise funds to assist RUSH in providing comprehensive outreach programs that work to close the health equity gap has been so rewarding,” adds Nicolaides, who will lead a team of co-chairs to host the woman’s board’s fall benefit on Friday, September 6.
Titled “Bright Futures,” the event will be held from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Theater on the Lake. Proceeds benefit volunteer programs that come under the banner of the Rush Community Service Initiative Program (RCSIP), to which the woman’s board has already pledged $500,000 in support.
“By changing the format up just a bit, we are giving guests the option to come for cocktails and support the cause, or, to make an entire evening of it,” says Gaines.
“It was really fun trying to choose a location for our event,” adds Healey. “Ultimately we decided on Theater on the Lake because it sits next to Chicago’s best feature—Lake Michigan. The terrace has a western exposure so we will get the sunlight we’re looking for. There is also a breathtaking view of our skyline which is a spectacular backdrop.”
But what’s most impressive, she says, is the cause the gala supports.
Established in 1991 to create a network of community service programs that matched RUSH Medical College students’ interests in social and health care needs of Chicago, RCSIP has grown into a robust inter-professional program. With volunteers from all four of Rush University’s colleges, RCSIP provides services to more than 10,000 community members annually through programs that focus on three areas—providing health care to people in underserved communities; educating the community about healthy living, disease prevention and management; and training and educating young people about career opportunities in health sciences.
There are dozens of programs in RCSIP—all student-driven—which change and evolve as new community partners are identified.
For example, volunteers in the Buddies program at Rush’s Children’s Hospital and Emergency Room (ER) read and play games with young patients, providing companionship, alleviating stress, and giving parents of hospitalized children a chance to take a break from the bedside. In another RCSIP project, student and physician volunteers in RUSH’s mini-medical school camp lead youth through everything from anatomy and physiology lectures to teaching activities about five major body systems, nutrition education, and more.
“We are so excited to bring ‘Bright Futures’ to life September 6 to support all of these endeavors,” says Maier, adding that this new event represents an exciting shift from the fashion show the woman’s board hosted for 90 years. “Continuing that evolution, Colby, Susie, and I envisioned a change in format that would make the event fun and welcoming to multi-generational board members, guests, sponsors, and friends.”
Catered by Blue Plate, the event’s four themed food stations will celebrate gustatory favorites from Chicago neighborhoods Bronzeville, Chinatown/Pilsen, Taylor Street, and Lincoln Park. Bright, fresh décor by HMR will follow a festive, blue, green, and poppy color scheme.
In keeping with the theme, the suggested attire is “bright cocktail.”
Maier says enthusiasm and momentum for the event is building, adding: “We are excited to see this come about and to support Rush’s outstanding community outreach initiatives.”
Tickets for “Bright Futures” start at $225; virtual tables are available for $2,000. For more information, visit thewomansboard.org, or call 312-942-6513.