It may be hard to imagine so close to home—children and youth that have exhausted all their options with the Department of Child and Family Services—at last finding a place where they can heal, thrive, and find love, purpose, and hope for a bright future. Allendale Association’s facility, located in Lake Villa, provides just such a haven for children and youth with serious emotional, mental health, and behavioral health challenges.
Comprised primarily of board members from Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, the Allendale Shelter Club commits to raising $150,000 every year to support Allendale’s important work. The second annual “Drinks & Dressage” event (which debuted to rave reviews last year as a new format to replace the long running Allendale Boutique) will take place on Friday, June 29, at Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek. This is a truly unique event held on the farm’s beautiful grounds, performance ring, and stables in picturesque horse country, less than a 30-minute drive from Lake Forest.
The Allendale Shelter Club was formed in 1906 by 16 female members of the Children’s Hospital Society to care for destitute and homeless boys, a population that was growing steadily. In the years to follow, The Boy’s Shelter Club and the Allendale Farm would merge, girls would be admitted, and The Allendale Association nonprofit child welfare agency based in Lake Villa was formed. To support the organization, the Allendale Shelter Club was formed and has remained committed to supporting Allendale’s mission for more than a century.
“These are the kids that through no fault of their own are in this situation,” says Kristin Weisberg, co-chair with Joan Burke for this year’s “Drinks & Dressage” event. “To be able to support and love these kids from where they are is tremendous. The kids at Allendale are DCFS’s last call for help; each child has been in six different home situations on average.”
The Lake Forest women both joined the Allendale Shelter board in 2013. “I wanted to help raise money and awareness to help these kids who have been dealt a bad childhood, and I have enjoyed every moment,” says Burke.
Today, the Shelter Club has approximately 60 active members and more than 88 non-resident and associate members. Over the years, The Shelter Club has contributed more than $13 million to The Allendale Association and remains the school’s largest private donor. Funds contributed by The Shelter Club have been used for many projects, big and small, including student housing units, a new cafeteria, a new student technology center, new vehicles for transporting children and their families, and scholarships awarded so that children can continue their education after graduating from Allendale.
Allendale Association’s educational, residential, clinical, vocational, and recreational programs are provided within safe, aesthetically designed facilities at its main campus in Lake Villa, Ill. Additionally, Allendale offers programs in North Chicago, Waukegan, Gurnee, Woodstock, and Benet Lake, Wis. The organization serves more than 800 children and youth from 6 to 18 years of age annually.
“Drinks & Dressage” is an evening affair that offers an opportunity to support this worthy cause while hearing a powerful keynote during dinner “at the stables” by author/artist Steve Pemberton—himself a foster care child and author of acclaimed memoir, A Chance in the World. Stroll through the stables to visit resident horses after the thrilling Lipizzan show and relax at the after-hours lounge with an elegant dessert table, libations, and live guitar music under the stars.
“A lot of people give money to hospitals or the schools their children attend,” says Burke. “We want to bring awareness to Allendale’s worthy cause, and hope to raise $100,000 at this year’s fundraiser.”
“With the rise and awareness of mental health, we are looking to improve lives of children who desperately need our care and love,” adds Weisberg. “They need a hand up.”