MOTHERS Trust Foundation Executive Director Paula Turelli is many wonderful things, but a gala goer she is not.
“Having a gala as our fundraiser this year definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone,” says Turelli. “But we have such a special committee planning the event and doing this for the families we serve. I’m really looking forward to it!”
On October 29, Mothers Trust Foundation (MTF) will host “A Fairytale Ball” at the Cuneo Mansion & Gardens. Lake Forest’s Loan Riedel—the organization’s own fairy godmother—is co-chairing the event that promises a seated dinner, dancing, and a live auction.
Riedel has been serving behind-the-scenes as an unofficial ambassador of MTF for more than 20 years and involved with many other local philanthropic organizations like Ragdale and Citadel. She knows from experience the awareness and funding a gala like this can bring.
“Making dreams come true is at the very heart of Mothers Trust Foundation,” Riedel explains, who is co-chairing the event with Libertyville’s Lori Dann. “We see every day how the money we raise makes a difference in the lives of the families we serve. I want to help others see this mission and want to be a part of making this happen for our MTF families.”
This first-time gala will be a fitting tribute to the foundation’s beloved founder Barbara Monsor who died earlier this year at the age of 99. Monsor founded MTF in 1998 after witnessing firsthand how a seemingly small amount of help can change a child’s life. Her idea was simple—to connect people in desperate situations with those who want to provide assistance where it will truly make a difference.
At its core, Mothers Trust Foundation fills in financial gaps for children from birth to age 21, in turn providing hope, building confidence, and making a positive difference in young people’s lives. “We are very good stewards of the money we receive,” says Turelli. “We take the trust people have in us very seriously.”
To this end, each Wednesday morning at 9:30, a group of Mothers Trust Foundation volunteers and staff gather on a Zoom call and in person in their office at Gorton Community Center to review grant requests and vote on whether or not a grant should be made. Grant requests are submitted to MTF by social workers and school counselors throughout Lake County on behalf of the children they’re representing. “It’s very important for Mothers Trust Foundation to stick to our guidelines when evaluating grant requests,” Turelli says. “We would love for more people to join our meetings—it’s just one hour each week and Zoom has made it very easy for people to come in and out of those calls as they have time. We discuss each and every grant request we receive to make sure that what we’re doing is within our guidelines and sustainable going forward.”
When a grant is approved, the check is cut within 24-48 hours. Grant requests range from something as small as the fee to go on a school field trip to something as significant as money to cover rent and utilities. MTF also has special rules in their bylaws so that they can issue grants in emergency situations.
According to Mothers Trust Foundation’s reports, of the families served:
- Nearly all of the families live at or below the poverty level
- 77 percent are single mother or grandparent head of household
- 8 percent are homeless
- 21 percent have a child or parent who is disabled
Since its inception, Mothers Trust Foundation has assisted more than 43,000 children with nearly $4.4 million in grants.
Monsor was once asked why she decided to call the organization she founded “Mothers Trust.” “There is a notion of mothering at the heart of what Mothers Trust tries to accomplish,” she once said, herself a mother of six and grandmother to eight. “The name sends a message of affection, responsibility, and accountability. A big part of this in my mind is that you’re always accountable to your mother.”
“A Fairytale Ball” will be the primary fundraiser for Mothers Trust Foundation this year. Mothers Trust also hosts their Pop-Up Prom Shoppe dress collection and giveaway in March, and the MTF Teens have a coat drive and giveaway every November.
While guests can wear whatever they would like to this first-time MTF gala, the hosts hope that those who attend channel their inner fairytale dreams and dress the part.
“Our Fairytale Ball idea grew out of the joy we saw during our Pop-Up Prom Shoppe dress giveaway. It was a fairytale ending to see everyone’s smiles in their beautiful dresses,” Turelli says. “We hope to see many new faces and friends at this fun event for a wonderful cause.”
To learn more about Mothers Trust Foundation or to purchase a table or ticket for the event, visit motherstrustfoundation.org.