Submitted by Chessmen Club of the North Shore
After a two-year break forced by COVID, the Chessmen Club’s Annual Gala is back in-person and is expected to be the biggest one yet.
On Friday, Oct. 14, the Club’s Annual Community Service Awards Dinner & Benefit will be held in a new location – the Holiday Inn & Suites, Chicago North Shore, 5300 W. Touhy, Skokie. This means more tickets are available at the event which will honor community service award winners Monique Parsons and Robin Rue Simmons as well as student honoree Olivia Ohlson.
“We are so excited to celebrate in-person this year,” said Chessmen President Reynold Martin. “Our Club has been blessed by the support of so many in the community and we look forward to getting together to honor our awardees, raise money for our programs and have some fun.”
Last year’s gala was held virtually and the year before was cancelled, so this year’s event is extra special. Money raised at the annual gala supports the scholarship fund, the hunger fund and other community outreach initiatives.
Monique Parsons is the President/CEO of McGaw YMCA. A passionate and experienced nonprofit professional for more than 30 years, Monique has been a keen advocate for youth and her community. Her work has included careers in the juvenile justice fields and in various settings like the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, Ford Motor Company, and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore. A lifelong Evanstonian, Monique is a recognized and respected leader and has connected people from all walks of life, especially throughout her nearly eight-year tenure on the Board of Education for District 202. In this role, she leverages her voice and vision to center Black students and families, especially Black boys and young men by addressing a broad range of issues from racial equity to community violence. Monique has been nationally recognized as a facilitator, speaker, and thought leader through her work with the African American YMCA CEOs Network and other Y-USA committees. She is an alumna of Leadership Evanston and in 2019, received the Evanston/North Shore NAACP Recognition Award for outstanding community engagement. Monique holds a BA in Sociology of Law from the University of Minnesota. Her passion for youth development and mentorship extends both from and to her own son and grandson.
Robin Rue Simmons is the Founder and Executive Director of FirstRepair, a not-for-profit organization that informs local reparations, nationally. She is the former 5th Ward Alderman and currently serves as Chair of the City of Evanston’s Reparations Committee. Robin led passage of the nation’s first municipally-funded reparations legislation for Black residents, which began disbursements in January 2022. Robin laid the foundation for her life’s work in 1998 when she became a residential real estate broker. Troubled by the wealth disparities and concentrated poverty she witnessed, she wanted to help young adults build wealth through homeownership. As an entrepreneur, she launched and operated multiple businesses. Rue Simmons is a commissioner of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), a lifetime member of NCOBRA, a board member of Evanston’s Connections for the Homeless. She has received numerous awards for her reparations and other public service work including a proclamation from the Evanston City Council. Robin attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she majored in communications. She has two young adult children, enjoys double dutch and forest bathing in her free time.
Olivia Ohlson is a sophomore at ETHS. She is a straight-A student and three-sport athlete, playing golf, basketball and softball. She is also active in many clubs and works part-time for the City of Evanston on the City’s Youth Advisory Committee. Olivia has been active in community service since she was six years old. Her first project, Olivia’s Pink Lemonade and Pink Ribbon Cookie Stands has raised approximately $13K for the North Shore Kellogg Cancer Center to date. Her second project Hygiene Kits for Evanston’s Under Served has distributed nearly 2,800 kits and counting. Her third project, Diversity Golf, was launched last spring after noticing a lack of girls and kids of color playing golf. For her efforts to expand athletic opportunities for girls and kids of color, ETHS Athletic Director, Chris Livatino nominated her for an honorary ESPY from ESPN and Olivia was selected as one of five winners from across the country.
To purchase a ticket for the Gala go to www.chessmenclub.org