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The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club announced at a breakfast meeting on Sept. 8 that the Evanston/North Shore YWCA and Evanston 150 would receive the club’s anniversary celebration grants of $35,000 and $10,000, respectively.

The celebration grants “are notable in that they are much larger than the club’s normal $250 to $2,000 grants and are [given] in addition to the club’s regular annual giving,” said club president Chip Uchtman. Both recipients noted anniversary tie-ins with their grants.

YWCA Kitchen

The YWCA grant money will be used to renovate and modernize the kitchen at Mary Lou’s Place, its domestic violence center. “The women and children who use the place will thank you for years to come,” executive director Karen Singer told members of the Lighthouse Rotary on Sept. 8.

Mary Lou’s Place houses up to 32 women and their children each night, said Ms. Singer, turning away about 1,200 each year for want of space.

Several organizations have repaired or refurbished different areas of Mary Lou’s Place, leaving the kitchen for last, said Ms. Singer. “The kitchen was so troubling to us because [its condition] sends the wrong message,” she said. Residents of the shelter – who can remain there for up to three months – cook their meals collaboratively, she said.

“Instead of being a warm and welcoming place, it looks institutional,” said Susan Hope Engel, president of the YWCA board of directors. “A kitchen should be the heart of the house.”

Because many members of Lighthouse Rotary have expertise in various aspects of construction – and because they volunteer each year with “Rebuilding Together” to rehab homes – Mr. Carlson said the club could offset some of the renovation costs for the kitchen with their volunteer work. “Since we could do more of the kitchen ourselves,” he said, “we are able to give two grants.”

Evanston 150

Edon Juron Perlman, executive director of the Evanston History Center, accepted the grant for Evanston 150. The project is “a four-year community-engagement initiative that will invite residents not only to celebrate the City’s 150th anniversary in 2013 but also to envision its future by developing ‘visionary projects’ that will benefit the City well beyond 2013,” said Mr. Uchtman in presenting the award. The project is a partnership of the Evanston History Center, Evanston Community Foundation and the Evanston Public Library, he added.

The group plans to solicit community input for both retrospective and prospective looks at the City of Evanston. “We want to make this a community project and figure out ‘What’s our mark [on the City]?’” said Ms. Perlman.

Lori Osborne, archivist at EHC, said, “This will be a community-visioning project, to get us thinking about where we want Evanston to go and what we want to leave Evanston. We didn’t want to have the whole thing finished but wanted community involvement.”

This project ties in with the Lighthouse Rotary’s upcoming 25th anniversary celebration, Ms. Perlman added.

23 Proposals Considered

Steve Carlson, who spearheaded the grant committee for the Rotary Club, said 23 “really good” proposals for grants were submitted, and the field was narrowed to four. Each of the four groups made a presentation to the club and, with members’ responses considered, Mary Lou’s Place and Evanston 150 were selected.