Read the full list: 14 Chicago Dads We Love, plus a few honorable mentions.
Read the full list: 14 Chicago Dads We Love, plus a few honorable mentions.
Happy Memorial Day. I wish you a healthy, patriotic celebration of those who have given their lives in service of our great nation and to promote democracy around the world. But I also hope you will pause to remember that some who serve and return home still struggle with great loss — often unable to resume civilian life as they once knew it after injury or trauma sustained during their tours of duty.
Yesterday’s Indianapolis 500 was not only the greatest spectacle in racing and the largest single-day sporting event in the world, it was also a great spectacle in celebration of Memorial Day. A parade of military leaders in red, white and blue trucks, recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing and some of its survivors in attendance at the race, and a giant two-piece variation of the American Flag were but a few of the event’s nods to this important holiday.
Lady Gaga was on hand for this momentous event.
I was thrilled to be at the 500, and proud of the reminder that my own father died serving our country as a naval pilot.
Just two days before the race, the “Ruck Of Honor” marched past my Wilmette home. Chicago vets wearing 22-pound knapsacks marched 22 miles from Glencoe’s Veterans Park to Chicago’s Milton Lee Olive Park in order to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran suicide, reminding us that that 22 veterans and active-duty military members commit suicide every day.
Today, a front page New York Times article, Those With Multiple Tours of War Overseas Struggle at Home, also chronicles struggles that returning vets face.
As you enjoy this holiday, along with the comforts and privileges of our American lives, please be mindful of Americans who are struggling to reengage in our society after serving and look for ways to help them.
For more information or to donate, go to chicagovets.org.
“Don’t think what’s the cheapest way to do it or what’s the fastest way to do it …. Think ‘what’s the most amazing way to do it.’” — Richard Branson, Virgin Brand Founder
Happy New Year! May 2016 be your best, most amazing year ever.
My 2016 will be just that — my best, most amazing year — if I get to enjoy amazing adventures with my husband, family and friends AND Make It Better’s über-talented staff, freelancers, partners and audience enjoy amazing, creative collaborations that help each other and the world.
People often say, “Look at all you’ve built with Make It Better. It’s amazing!” My response, “It’s not what ‘I’ built, it’s what ‘we’ have built together.” And we’ve only scratched the surface.
So many good people in our Make It Better community already are connecting with and amplifying each other’s good. My pledge is to use this blog in 2016 to inspire as many others to participate in our most trusted community resource — makeitbetter.net — and live amazing lives too.
Please help me do this too. Please share what inspires and amazes you. Please recommend makeitbetter.net to others. And please remind me to sometimes let go of work and just enjoy life with my amazingly supportive husband, too.
My children and the Kohl Children’s Museum grew up together. The museum opened in 1985 in Wilmette on Green Bay Road, next to the Walker Bros. Pancake House, about the same time that the second of our six children was born and we moved to the North Shore.
We quickly discovered that a morning spent at the museum followed by a maple syrupy Walker Brothers lunch was the perfect family outing. I toddled my way through 4 more pregnancies and about two decades of such merriment.
What I didn’t appreciate then was that my family was enjoying the labors of a visionary educator who also was bringing educational best practices to under-resourced kids too: Dolores Kohl. Through her education foundation, Kohl opened teaching centers, supported arts and education programs around the world, and launched a traveling literacy program called StoryBus.
“Children are the messages we send to generations that we will never see,” Kohl declared during my 2011 interview with her as explanation for her determined efforts, her blue eyes twinkling. Kohl is pretty brilliant. She’s brilliantly pretty, too.
The museum grew from one of the original teaching centers. The messages my kids absorbed there through interactive exhibits helped them learn to think critically, develop confidence, and become life-long readers and learners. The message that the world absorbed was that the museum was such a valuable resource it needed to grow. So Kohl stepped aside from her daily activities at the museum and hired strategic and persuasive Sheridan Turner as the next President and CEO. Turner had previously led a highly successful Museum of Science and Industry expansion.
In 2005, Kohl Museum moved to a new and much larger facility in Glenview. Turner gives substantial credit for this accomplishment to Rick Waddell, who served as Chairman of the museum’s board of trustees during the expansion. “We simply couldn’t have accomplished all of this without Rick’s extraordinary leadership,” Turner declares proudly.
Kohl Children’s Museum celebrates its 30th Anniversary this coming school year with a plethora of activities—starting with a September kick-off party at the stunning Burdeen’s Jewelry in Buffalo Grove, a not to be missed October 17 gala, and a Make It Better Shop For Good partnership just in time for holiday shopping.
Kohl Museum now serves over 330,000 visitors annually, provides extensive outreach programs in Chicagoland and beyond, consistently ranks as one of the top 10 children’s museums in the country, and is about to launch a pioneering program for veterans and their families.
Dolores Kohl’s vision has already touched an extraordinary number of children and families. The ripple effect to future generations will be a substantial gift to the world. And the museum is still growing.
Fortunately for me, our family is still growing too. The next generation was born in time to share in the 30th celebration too. I’m excited to take my grandson to the museum soon. I’ll miss having Walker Brothers right next door for a mighty dose of maple syrup though.
Make It Better is proud to be the media sponsor of the entire year of 30th Anniversary celebration activities. If the museum has touched your family too, we hope you will share the good news about this, and join us at one of the events, too.
Why not get the entire family involved while helping to support a great cause. Here are some of our favorite fundraiser events FOR FAMILIES:
1. Chicago Botanic Garden HallowFest (10/25-26/14)
It’s always fun to bring the kids to the festivities at Chicago Botanic Garden’s HallowFest. Register now.
The Women’s Board is an amazing group of nearly 300 of Chicago’s most active and civic-minded citizens that share an interest in promoting awareness of The Field Museum’s exhibitions, collections, research and public programs. This family event is a holiday favorite.
3. Lyric Opera’s The Magic Victrola (1/17/15)
This is a family-friendly introduction to opera and always a pleasure to attend.
4. Joffrey Ballets The Nutcracker Opening Night (12/5/14)This is a Chicago Tradition with with Tchaikovsky’s glorious score played live by The Chicago Philharmonic.
5. Kohl Children’s Museum Touch A Truck Family Festival (5/2015)
Forget ordering the fire truck to drive up to your house; here at the Touch a Truck event, children can get a close up look at the real things! Climb aboard many super-sized vehicles in a safe, protected environment.
Please also take a look at the other Blog posts to find more MIB supported fundraisers by category.
This is not so though for too many students in Chicago Public Schools.
The good news is that decades of concerted civic attention has created many opportunities for us to help. Even better, Make It Better has given Philanthropy Awards to or worked with several of them too. Because of this, you can trust that any donations of your talent, things or financial support will be well-spent. A few organizations we’ve been proud to work with include :
City Year – Helping Chicago Public Schools
When you think that nearly a third of Chicago public school students from grade 3-9 are at risk to drop out, you know there a lot of work to be done. City Year Chicago’s 206 highly skilled City Year Chicago corps members step in as near peer mentors and serve to keep students in school and on track. This is a mission that really shows results. I recently wrote about it for our Make It Better Magazine and feel passionate about the cause. Here are just a few mentioned on their website;
Our corps members serve students in 20 Chicago public schools and we continuously track and measure our impact. Here are the results from the previous school year:
89% of Chicago teachers say corps members improved their students’ overall academic performance.
64% of students in grades 6 through 9 earning a D or worse, improved to a C or better.
86% of principals felt confident corps members boosted school attendance.
Please consider supporting this impactful and extremely important organization by attending their Back to School Soiree
More Details here;
Back to School Soiree!
Infused with energy from City Year’s red-jacketed AmeriCorps members, this one-of-a-kind event will celebrate the impact City Year Chicago has on the lives of students right here in Chicago.
Date: Friday, September 19th 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Location: The Library Club (190 S. LaSalle Street, 40th Floor Chicago, IL 60603)
For sponsorshop information and earlybird ticket rates, please visit the event registration page.
Please direct questions about the event and sponsorships to Nicole Camboni, Major Gifts Officer for City Year Chicago.
Yes, there really is a heroin epidemic on the North Shore.
Survivor Paula Nixon and her mother share their story, with the hopes of saving others.
PJ and Paula Nixon
Read their story and more by clicking here
I love to see and feel emotional sparkle. Seeing my husband and daughter sparkling together above makes me sparkle too. So does connecting with others who are passionate about their work. Like designer Jason Wu:
Thanks to A Better Chicago, I enjoyed the Jason Wu fashion show at the Art Institute and dinner with the designer and others afterwards. Wu skyrocketed to fame when Michelle Obama wore his gown to her husband’s first inauguration. The first lady’s only design parameter was, “It has to sparkle.”
Fashion design makes Skatie sparkle too. She is already Creative Director of the Cashmere By Tania fashion house in London. Tania is the second from the left below. I will forever be her fan and friend because of the opportunity and support she gives Skatie. Tania is great fun to be with too!
Jason’s advice to Skatie was “Go for it! Start designing your dreams now.” His advice to me – nurture her fashion sparkle – of course.
Dancing makes everything better. Lightens your mood, improves your fitness, makes you feel sexier.
Thanks to Arthur Murray Dance Studios, celebrities in Chicago make cancer research better by dancing too – in the annual “Dancing With Chicago Celebrities” fundraiser.
Not sure I merit the “celebrity” tag, but I’m positive that I loved the opportunity!
Particular thanks to my Arthur Murray partner, Charles White, and friend Bill Kirby for creating this video.
Sleep – Glorious Sleep, Luxurious Sleep, Mysterious Sleep
Good sleep is as fundamental to a happy life as love and good food. But a “good sleep” can be more elusive. A tasty meal or a big hug – that’s easy, if you are close to home. But even in your own bed, a good night’s sleep can evade you.
My teenage kids marvel that I was able to give them hugs at all during my child-bearing years. “Mom, you were with babies and without a good night’s sleep for eleven years straight!” they tease.
Now I marvel at their need to sleep long, long hours.
Humanity is just beginning to understand the science of sleep. And it is mysterious and fascinating.
According to sleep expert Dr. Neil Stanley, teens really do need 9 – 9 ½ hours sleep each night. Not getting that during the school week could account for teenage surliness. Stanley also believes that teens would be wise to follow these additional rules too:
1. An hour before bed, relax. Shower, read a book for fun (a school book doesn’t count!) or spend time with family.
2. Limit exciting activities 1-2 hours before bedtime.
3. Limit light an hour before bed, including TV, cell phones and computers.
4. Raise the shades to rise and shine. Sunlight in the morning helps awaken the body and mind.
Sleep Myths: Debunking cultural perceptions of sleep & the secrets to a great night of sleep at any age!
Friday, February 28, 2014 at 2 pm at A. Perry Homes
564 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka.
Space is limited, RSVP here.