BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
If a guidebook were written on planning a glorious gala in support of a mighty mission, the Woman’s Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago could be its author and this year’s main event an apt case study. For 73 summers, through its dazzling themed events, the board has raised funds to enable young people, especially those who need the non-profit the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
Awash in candlelight and resplendent with lush summer flowers, the Four Seasons was transformed into a magical garden party, the perfect backdrop for a fete that lived up to its chosen name for this year, The Celebration Ball. And there was much to celebrate: the evening raised more than $1.6 million to support BGCC’s work. Congratulations to Celebration Ball co-chairs Betsy Bradley and Karen McEniry and Woman’s Board President Robin Tebbe on this extraordinary undertaking.
Tebbe, whose insightful and inspired leadership has motivated other organizations, including the Latin School of Chicago, shared, “It has been such a pleasure and a privilege to lead our incredibly dynamic Woman’s Board for the last two years. At the beginning of my term, we never could have anticipated that two years later we would still be navigating a pandemic! I am so grateful to my dear friends, Betsy Bradley and Karen McEniry, for chairing the Summer Ball not once but twice, and raising nearly $3 million for the children and teens we serve over the course of these two years.
“The evening was a great ‘come back,’ as operations at the clubs are returning to pre-pandemic levels and we finally had the opportunity to celebrate in person again. The energy in the room was so special, and everyone was so excited to be together.”
President and CEO Mimi LeClair talked that night about the significant disruption and hardship experienced in the communities served by BGCC. She shared the story of Jessica, a Woman’s Board Scholar and alumna of the Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club. Jessica recently graduated from a six-year MD program at the University of Missouri, and she is returning to Chicago this summer to begin her residency at the University of Chicago.
“The young people served by BGCC have demonstrated resilience, determination, and optimism, and they have brighter futures ahead thanks to our devoted Woman’s Board and incredibly generous community of donors,” LeClair said.
The BGCC was founded in 1902 and the Woman’s Board in 1949. Its summer events have been the organization’s largest fundraiser. Gary Metzner, the captivating driving force of Sotheby’s Chicago office, served as auctioneer, with Rich Daniels and the City Lights Orchestra keeping guests on the dance floor in celebration. Kehoe Designs provided the luxurious décor.
Co-chairs Bradley and McEniry reflected: “We had so much fun planning this year’s Celebration Ball. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring so many of our Woman’s Board members and friends together after such a long period of uncertainty, and the support we received was just incredible. We are especially grateful to all of our fellow Woman’s Board members who joined us as leading sponsors this year. The kids we serve rely on the clubs to be a safe space and a respite from the stressors in their communities, and they need our support now more than ever.”
For more information about the BGCC, go to bgcc.org.
Photo credit: Widia Viti for Robin Subar Photography