Like many endeavors in the not-for-profit world, Eileen Bennin’s Benefit Brunch for Glenkirk, a Northbrook-based support service which empowers individuals with developmental disabilities, started out quite small. One morning, 14 years ago, Bennin rounded up 35 friends to enlighten them on the monumental work being carried out at Glenkirk and what the staff had done for her two sons, Steven and Howard. When other services denied her two autistic sons their assistance, Glenkirk welcomed them in with open arms. Bennin wanted to spread the word, no matter how small the audience.
All these years later, the Glenkirk Benefit Brunch has grown from 35 supporters to more than 300, and they’ve had guest speakers like Hillary Clinton, Tipper Gore, and Scott Turow. Not too shabby for a “little” breakfast.
This year, Bennin and the Glenkirk Committee Members invite supporters and newcomers to their September 25 Benefit Brunch at Ravinia Green Country Club in Riverwoods. Bennin promises a morning of mingling with dedicated committee women who are passionate about creating and sustaining meaningful and productive lives for people with developmental disabilities, both at Glenkirk and on the North Shore. The event even stays true to its small-time roots: A dessert buffet of homemade treats baked by committee members is always a perennial favorite.
Donating his time this year is guest speaker Rob Johnson, weekday anchor of the CBS 2 News at 5 and 10 p.m. “Rob was a standout choice for our guest speaker,” explains Bennin. “He has a sibling with a disability and is a strong advocate of this most vulnerable population.”
Many of those who reside in the community homes provided by Glenkirk are wards of the state or have no family to support them. “I have been given the opportunity to help others that cannot help themselves, and be a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves,” says Bennin. Monies raised at the Benefit Brunch will provide economic support to the financially needy within the organization, as well as the Next Generation Program, a series within Glenkirk that provides fitness options and education programs in computing, cooking, creative arts, leisure, and wellness.
Even with all her hard work and time commitments, Bennin considers herself very lucky. “My sons are the loves of my life. Every day I marvel how they have become productive members of their community. Glenkirk gave them the opportunity to live five minutes from me and allows us to continue to be a family.”
Tickets to the Benefit Brunch on September 25 at 11 a.m. can be purchased by calling Glenkirk at 847-504-2731.