It’s the time of year to rejoice, to celebrate, and to give back and the RUSH Junior Board’s Holiday Tea is the ideal place to get in the spirit of the season.
Held Saturday, December 3, at Sunset Ridge Country Club, the event features a holiday boutique and the signature tea in the Club’s dining room. More than 300 people are expected to attend the fundraiser, which has sold out for many of its more than 30 years.
The Holiday Tea is one of three annual fundraisers hosted by the RUSH Junior Board, a group of nearly 100 young leaders from New Trier township, operating under the auspices of the Auxiliary of the Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center. With leadership from Parent Advisors, the Junior Board’s fundraisers include the Car Wash, Holiday Tea, and Fashion Show. Last year, Junior Board efforts netted more than $100,000 for RUSH.
“The Junior Board has been unwavering in their support of RUSH. That is especially evident and appreciated these past two years. From supporting RUSH’s health care heroes to raising funds for critical education, research, and community service programs, they embody the next generation of leaders,” says Dr. Omar Lateef, President and CEO of RUSH University System for Health and RUSH University Medical Center. “They are the change we need in this world.”
“As a North Shore tradition, we see generations enjoying the Tea together, with many guests returning year after year. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season and to support RUSH University Medical Center,” adds Jan Evans of Winnetka, president of the RUSH Auxiliary Board.
The result is a must-attend event, especially for those who want to get some holiday shopping done.
“The Holiday Tea features a boutique with something for everyone on your list including our most popular traditional items including gingerbread cookies, chocolate bark, chocolate covered pretzels, hot cocoa kits, and our fleece blankets,” says Holly Miller of Winnetka, a RUSH Junior Board Parent Advisor.
Everything hits the “merry” mark.
“Our boutique is stocked with gifts for teachers, hostess gifts, and many things you will want to keep for yourself too,” says Parent Advisor Anissa Forman of Winnetka. “Raffle baskets have some of the hottest and best items for this holiday season.”
While she says many of the items have been donated by generous retailers and member families, one of the big-ticket items is a weeklong vacation in Big Sky.
Winnetka’s Leslie Graham, creative consultant and a 20-year RUSH leader in many capacities, says what’s also remarkable is that for the holiday craft sale, the Junior Board members actually make these items themselves.
“The girls dip the chocolate; they make the peppermint bark and the fleece blankets, and they do the packaging. They develop new ideas for gifts to sell and analyze costs and profits before producing them,” she explains. “It’s something we’re all collectively very proud of. Making these items is a very real contribution of their time and effort and part of the important life lessons they learn being a part of the Junior Board.”
The Junior Board also teaches young women about the power and impact of civic leadership, volunteerism, and philanthropy. Through their hands-on experience and fundraising efforts, the Board fuels RUSH’s work to promote health equity and engage with the diverse communities it serves.
Examples of the impact of the RUSH Junior Board includes helping to address food insecurity by providing fresh and healthy food to more than 750 community members on Chicago’s West Side and providing critical resources to support the annual back-to-school health fair organized by the RUSH Community Service Initiatives Program (RCSIP), resulting in immunizations, back-to-school physicals, backpacks with school supplies, and winter coats for more than 500 children on the West Side.
Moreover, the Junior Board has also provided meals to dozens of veterans and families who travel from around the country to participate in leading mental health programs at the Road Home Program: The National Center for Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at RUSH. The Junior Board also conducts basic need supply drives, including coat drives and toy drives for Simpson Academy, a Chicago Public School that serves pregnant and mothering young women.
RUSH provides opportunities for the young women of the Junior Board to learn more about careers at an academic medical center, volunteer within the Medical Center, and volunteer for programs in the diverse neighboring communities RUSH serves. These experiences are intended to open Board members’ eyes to the impact of health care, the social determinants of health—such as access to education, housing, and nutritious food—and, more recently, the inequitable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the year, members of the Board shadow professional nurses at RUSH. They also work alongside RUSH University medical, nursing, and allied health students as part of RCSIP, the Rush Community Service Initiative Program. In addition to the back-to-school health fairs, they support the “Mini Medical School” STEM program that introduces 4th-and 5th-grade students from the neighborhoods around RUSH to the wonders of health sciences and the health care professions.
They are also highly involved with the RUSH University Children’s Hospital — bringing joy and comfort to pediatric patients and their families via a “Jolly Trolly” filled with games, treats, and supplies needed to brighten a hospital stay. They help stock and wrap presents for the holiday boutique organized by Child Life Services where parents can select holiday gifts for their children.
“Both my daughters were members of the Junior Board, and I was fortunate to have been a parent advisor to the Junior Board. It was my favorite experience as a 12-year member. It’s a huge undertaking!” adds Evans. “Every year, I’m amazed by the hard work these high school girls do to run this successful event.”
For more information about the RUSH Junior Board, jrboardrumc.org.