Representing Housing Options, Debbie Bretag and staff presented a summary of the organization’s iWork program, a supportive job placement program for persons with a mental illness. RoundTable photo

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The Rotary Club of Evanston hosted the first “Heads Up, Evanston” networking luncheon on Sept. 18. At the event, leaders of many non-profit organizations in Evanston were given an opportunity to share information about their new initiatives and projects with other leaders in the community and hopefully discuss potential partnerships with other organizations.

“The basic formula is simple,” said Paul Larson, president of the Rotary Club. “Join leaders. Share ideas. Take action.”

Representatives had time to talk before and during a buffet lunch. In addition, the format allowed a representative of each organization to highlight their organization’s activities for the entire group in a two-minute presentation. If a speaker ran over the limit, the theme song from the movie “Rocky” began to play. “Think of yourselves as human tweets,” said Mr. Larson.

Speakers held to the limit. Representatives of 28 organizations, each of whom is involved in important, dedicated, creative work in the community, gave what Mr. Larson termed “mini-commercials,” all within an hour.

The summaries covered existing and new programs in early childhood development, literacy, music, the arts, mentoring toward college, health, prevention of violence, job placement and support,  and supportive housing.

“More than anything else, our luncheon reinforced how important relationship-building is in Evanston, and how lucky we are to live in a community with so many vibrant and diverse individuals and organizations working together,” said Mr. Larson.

He added the Rotary Club has received great feedback and will consider whether to offer the program again, taking into account suggestions from those who attended.