At the core of the communities of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff is an innate desire to give back and make the world a better place. As we raise our glasses to 15 years of publishing Forest & Bluff, we recognize some of the many residents whose selfless generosity fuels the vital charitable work happening here and around the world.
Camp Hope, Church of St. Mary Parish Council and Bereavement Committee, Catholic Charities
“To me, life can be a puzzle. Volunteering is the piece that seems to make everything fit together. The organizations I am passionate about grant me fulfillment because of what they offer to others, but I have found that they also bring meaning to other priorities in my life like my family, my faith, my community, and my career.
Camp Hope has been a staple in my life for more than 10 years. Its impact always begins and ends with the campers. I see a different joy in families, combined with relief in knowing that their child is being cared for, challenged, and celebrated.
With my work with the bereavement committee, I try to focus on other aspects of service. My goal is to help with some of the decision-making that comes when a loved one passes so that families can focus on what is most important.
The Saint Mary’s community has been a pivotal part of my family’s life for the last 30 years, and Parish Council—and my work with Catholic Charities—enables me to contribute to their continued development and breadth of services. I like to say that ‘many hands make light work,’ and if we all give our time and talents, we can accomplish so much more than we can alone.”
North Chicago Community Partners, Beyond Sports Foundation
“I consider it a privilege to work with such an extraordinary group of employees and volunteers who are truly making a difference in the lives of families in North Chicago,” explains Lake Forest’s Jennifer Grumhaus, former investment banker, mother of five, and executive director for North Chicago Community Partners (NCCP). In 2008, NCCP was formed in direct response to the lack of outside supports for the academic challenges facing the children of North Chicago. “Our goal has been to level the playing field for these students—giving them opportunities that their peers have in other communities. We believe that we can strengthen North Chicago by supporting its schools.” Today, NCCP has 40 employees and more than 3,500 volunteers in all of the schools in North Chicago—helping with everything from lunch duty, working as tutors, or overseeing afterschool and weekend programs. “We’ve built a level of trust in North Chicago by being consistent and humble through it all.” Outside of NCCP, Grumhaus’s family has opened their home to promising athletes needing a place to stay through the Beyond Sports Foundation, a global organization based on the idea that sports can play an active role in sustainable social change. “I never expected our lives to change in such a dramatic way,” Grumhaus says. “But I love coming home.”
BECKY AND BLAIR NAGEL
Gorton Community Center
“Gorton first spoke to us when we learned about the Drop-In Center,” says Lake Forest’s Becky Nagel of her and her husband. “Wow, what a gem. I soon understood how my children could be cared for in a DCFS-certified place while learning through age-appropriate activities. One summer morning in 2010, I brought my son to a mini camp. We were told that Gorton was closed and that all of the employees had been let go. But the Drop-In Center teachers and director showed up, without pay, to carry through the camp for the balance of the week. We moms made a commitment right then and there to help reinstate the Drop-In Center through fundraising and increased enrollment for the fall.” Blair Nagel was asked to join the Gorton Board in 2010. “Gorton resonated with me because our children loved the Drop-In Center, my wife was a big supporter, and my father, Karl F. Nagel, was asked by Brooks Smith to help start Gorton as a community center in 1972,” adds Blair. Over the last six years, Blair took an active role in forming a new executive board, oversaw a capital campaign of $7.5 million, and project managed the renovation of Gorton—including the state-of-the-art John and Nancy Hughes Theater. “It’s been meaningful to work side-by-side with so many talented people during Gorton’s transition. Lake Forest is a special place and we all have opportunity to give back,” Becky says.
MARY ELLEN PATTON AND ANNE DUROT
“I started to volunteer because I wanted to make a difference,” says Lake Forest’s Anne Durot. “That has been turned on its head. The families of Beacon Place have made a difference in me. Show me any other place where high school students from Lake Forest and Lake Bluff and families from Waukegan all share the pleasures of a sunny day with the laughter of children. Everyone is a participant giving and receiving in equal measure. This is a true partnership.”
Whether helping kids with their homework or providing nutritious snacks and lunches, making crafts, playing games, or working with adults on language, parenting, technology, or other life skills, Beacon Place makes a difference every day by offering support to their neighbors to allow them to make changes in their lives themselves.
“Beacon Place has spoken to me because of its mission to reach families—both kids and parents,” says Mary Ellen Patton of Lake Bluff. “This is an organization that believes in a hand up, not a handout and is really working to to inspire and guide the families in the neighborhood to believe in possibilities that they did not even imagine for themselves.”
“PAWS Chicago was started and continues to fight to save homeless animals. Our goal is to create no-kill communities that respect and value the lives of every cat and dog,” says PAWS Chicago CEO, Kristin Pearson of Lake Bluff. “Our family loves animals! We currently have two dogs (Molly and Penny), a cat (Chloe), a hedge-hog (Teddy), and often a PAWS Chicago foster animal (or a few). We adopted senior dog Penny, who is 7-years-old, from PAWS last summer and she is the light of our lives. I joined PAWS Chicago because I wanted to work with smart, innovative people creating a positive impact in the world. As it turns out, being part of the PAWS Chicago team has been a gift beyond anything I could imagine. I have the privilege of spending my days not only with beautiful animals, but in the company of volunteers, fosters, employees, business partners, and other PAWS supporters from all walks of life, doing everything they can to help save and improve the lives of homeless pets. It’s given me great hope not only for animals, but for humanity.”
Roberti Community House
“I was blessed to grow up with a family that had a strong ethic of caring for and supporting each other as well as helping those in the community,” says Lake Forest’s Maribeth Roberti. “The Roberti Community House (RCH) has been my effort to honor the memory of my parents, Vincent and Mary Roberti, and to continue their legacy.” In 2010, Roberti purchased and rehabbed a dilapidated former gang house in Waukegan. With the help and encouragement from good friends, the house was opened to the community in 2011. The RCH continually evolves and now offers programs such as cooking for adults and children, gardening, yoga, English, computers, drumming, and after-school support. “I recently invested in another HUD house a block and a half from the RCH,” Roberti adds. I’m excited by this purchase and the opportunities it provides for increased services and space. While funding is needed for rehabbing the property and we are always looking for volunteers, I have come to believe when you are on the right path, doors will open that allow you to continue moving forward.”
THE TILLMAN FAMILY
Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation
“Our foundation means the most because it is very personal to us,” explains Jackie Tillman, wife of beloved former Chicago Bear Charles Tillman. “We lived in the hospital for four months with our daughter Tiana when she was in heart failure. We saw first hand the needs of families with sick children and we work hard to raise money to help them,” she says. “We believe that our strength is for service and not status. Charles has a platform and we use it to serve others. We truly believe that God has put obstacles and trying times in our paths for a reason, and as terrible as a heart transplant is, it has provided this path of servitude and we are blessed for that. We have met so many amazing people on this journey and it really is has blessed us in return,” Jackie adds.
TRACY AND DAVE TOLMIE
Faraja School and Faraja Foundation, First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest Mission Program, Opportunity International
“My father once told me,” says Lake Forest’s Dave Tolmie, “‘if you live a life beyond yourself, you’ll never go too far off track. You don’t need to deny yourself, but you should always be thinking about how you can be helping someone else.’” Anyone who knows Dave and Tracy Tolmie’s family knows that these are words they live by with gusto. In 2001, Dave’s mother and father—Don and Joann Tolmie—were on a post-retirement adventure trip to Tanzania, Africa with their local Lutheran church group. “One day while on tour, my parents asked what was being done for children with disabilities,” Dave says. “They were told that the children go to vocational training school if they receive a primary school education first. But at the time, there were no primary schools for children with disabilities.”
With modest funding, Dave’s parents helped build the school. This year, the Faraja Primary School reached its 15th anniversary.
The school has 95 students and more than 100 graduates, most of whom are currently in secondary school, vocational training, or university. “Through our involvement with Faraja, we know that whether a person is able-bodied, living in Lake Forest, or disabled in rural Tanzania, are all equal children
of God,” adds Dave. “It’s a wonderful source of healthy perspective, and an experience we can share as a family.”
Church of the Holy Spirit, Gorton Community Center,
St. Leonard’s Ministries in Chicago, JourneyCare
“Our church is the bedrock of my faith, and I cherish the missions of each of these organizations as well as the ones that our family supports financially rather than with a structured time commitment,” says Lake Forest’s David Waud. “Helping them achieve their dreams and work alongside committed fellow board members, volunteers, and staff members has made my wife Pam and me more sensitive to the challenges facing non-profits in our communities and beyond. The saying for sports teams is that there is ‘There is no “I” in team.’ But there is certainly an ‘I’ in philanthropy. On one of my Habitat for Humanity building trips, I saw the Lily Tomlin quote ‘I thought somebody should be doing something about that.’ Then I realized that I am somebody. We are trying to share these values with our three children so that they, too, will feel the blessing of having the time and resources to make a meaningful difference in other people’s lives.”