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In 1958, The Chessmen Club of the North Shore, Inc., began with a simple mission to provide support to youth and seniors in the community. Today, the Club has provided over $500,000 in scholarships, fed more than 50,000 people and took health education to hundreds of local residents. This year’s Annual Community Service Awards Dinner and Benefit will celebrate the Club’s diamond anniversary as well as presenting Ann Balusek and Tim Rhoze with the community service award. The event will be held on March 17 at the Hilton Orrington Evanston Hotel, 1710 Orrington Ave. Tickets are available at www.chessmenclub.org.
“We are so proud to be celebrating our 60th year,” said Chessmen President George Dotson. “Our Club has been blessed by the support of so many who agree with our mission. Now more than ever, we feel a commitment to building strong leaders in the black community.”
Mr. Dotson is referring to the Club’s goal of creating a $1 million fund to ensure the stability of the scholarship program for years to come. Two years ago, the Chessmen were able to extend their one-year scholarships into renewable four-year awards and are now working to ensure continued growth for the program. Money raised at the annual gala supports the scholarship fund, the hunger fund, and other community outreach initiatives.
As a thoughtful leader and philanthropist, Ms. Balusek has made an invaluable impact on Evanston and the black community. Through her family’s Mammel Foundation, which funds the Evanston Community Foundation’s Root2Fruit Grant, she has given over $1.5 million to local organizations. She has been engaged in the work of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore and the Evanston Art Center where she was the founding donor who inspired the Evanston Women’s History Project.
Mr. Rhoze is an actor, producer, writer, and director who has brought African American-inspired storytelling to life here in Evanston. He has been the Producing Artistic Director of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre since 2010 and has directed more than 20 productions, and wrote and directed the FJT world premieres of “Why Not Me? A Sammy Davis Jr. Story” and “Maya’s Last Poem.” He has developed and facilitates an array of ongoing theatre programs in Evanston, including the FJT Teen Drama Club, Prime-Time Players, YSTEP (Youth & Senior Theatre Ensemble Project), Tater Tot Theatre Company, and the FJT Summertime Season of plays and concerts.