The On Your Feet Foundation, along with three other Evanston organizations that support women and children, were awarded grants at the April 26 weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Evanston. The club’s Vice President, Evelyn Lee, said that its charitable fund grants are always given to local nonprofits, and that the club has been working to increase the amount of grants it is able to provide each year. “It felt so good to be able to support these critical – and moving – initiatives,” she said.
The current round of grants will support On Your Feet Foundation’s programs for birth mothers; scholarships to girls and young women who will participate in the Curt’s Café South training program; Evanston Food Exchange gardening and cooking classes for students, their parents and grandparents; and refurbishment of the Park School playground.
On Your Feet Foundation
While adoption agencies focus on the safe placement of children, the On Your Feet Foundation focuses on birth mothers who have given up their child. The Foundation’s Executive Director, Alexis Eyler, and Case Manager Jennifer Adams talked about the challenges that birth mothers face after their child is born and safely placed in an adoptive home. They described the support that they provide to those birth mothers who often have few or no resources and simultaneously are struggling with grief.
On Your Feet Foundation brings them together with other birth parents whose child has been adopted, helps them secure counseling services, housing and stable employment, and will even support completion of a degree.
Ms. Eyler said the Rotary money will make three additional counseling grants to birth mothers possible, adding that “often, counseling is the first step towards lifelong stability.”
Curt’s Café South
Sarah Ghantous, Development Director at Curt’s Café, talked about the success of Curt’s South, which focuses on training and supporting girls and young women. She said that more funding will make it possible to offer opportunities to more students, which is an ongoing goal.
Evanston Food Exchange
Qiusha Abrahim, who goes by “Chef Q,” described the intergenerational aspect of gardening and cooking classes at Evanston Food Exchange. Chef Q said that it’s important to get both students and their grandparents, who often are the primary caregivers for the students, to make and try nutritious and flavorful dishes made with ingredients from the Exchange’s garden. She said she gets them to start with a taste, and then soon they are asking for recipes.
Park School PTA
The president of the PTA at Park School, Anna Guillemin, said that a safe rubberized surface, a new bank of accessible swings and shades for those with light sensitivity are part of the plan for the playground. Ms. Guillemin said that many of the students at Park School are not able to use the playground in its current state, but that the refurbishment will make it accessible to all students.
“Our mission as a PTA is to help our students experience and participate in the world around them, but also to raise awareness about special needs in our community,” said Ms. Guillemin. “Fundraising for the playground has been incredibly rewarding because we have been able to focus on both goals. We are so moved by this recognition from the Rotary Club, an organization that has done so much to improve the quality of all lives in Evanston.”
Each of the organization representatives spoke of the ways that individual lives would potentially change because of the grants, and more than one of them noted that even small investments from individuals make a bigger difference than those donors know.