Michael Rosengarden, Autohaus on Edens Host 2017 LAUNCH Fashion Show April 9

So here’s the deal about Michael Rosengarden, owner of Autohaus on Edens and Northbrook Toyota, attentive husband of Andrea, father of three great young adults, founder of the annual LAUNCH fashion show that provides scholarships for promising fashion design graduates of Columbia College and supports a different local nonprofit every year, and supporter of shelters for abused women and children, cancer research, Illinois Holocaust Museum and more.

Michael Rosengarden is awesome and he doesn’t act like he knows this about himself either.  He’s just trying to do the next right thing each day of his life.

Rosengarden believes, “If you have the opportunity to help, to give a person a lift up, you do it.” He continues, “It’s how I raised my kids. I told them, you can’t just walk past someone who needs help. You have to do something about it if you can.”

He’s a little quirky too. Rosengarden knows what he likes and just keeps doing it. For example, he likes work so he doesn’t venture far from it during the day. He likes lunch at The Happ Inn. More specifically, he likes Happ Inn cheeseburgers. So when he doesn’t dine out there for lunch, he just orders in a Happ Inn cheeseburger instead.

It was over a recent lunch at a Happ Inn corner table that Rosengarden explained how he feels about giving and helping, in anticipation of the 2017 LAUNCH: Driving Fashion Forward event at Autohaus on Sunday, April 9. This will be the sixth annual LAUNCH event.

“When you teach someone about the power of giving — when they had no idea how good it would make them feel — they come to life,” he declares as he dips his first French fry into ketchup. He comes a bit more to life as he digs into his cheeseburger too.

“The organizations that I support are the ones that others won’t, like the ACLU.” He grimaces. “Our country needs this organization now more than ever too!”

He is also working harder than ever to help raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. The Chicago Awards Dinner will be held only a few days before LAUNCH on April 3 at the Chicago Four Seasons Hotel. The actress Bonnie Hunt is Master of Ceremonies. “Bonnie is a hoot and a relentless advocate for cancer research,” Rosengarden says. He shows me the photo below from last year’s event.


Back row: Adam Friedberg, Michael Rosengarden, Derrick Blakley, Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo. Front row: Stephanie Rosengarden, Alyssa Friedberg, Sugar Ray Leonard, Andrea Rosengarden and Bonnie Hunt.

Roesengarden rattles off a number of other organizations he champions between bites. “I’m really passionate about A Safe Place and Prevent Child Abuse America.”

This year’s LAUNCH benefits the Women’s Leadership Committee of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Roesengarden knows how to bring community together and throw a good party too. LAUNCH will include bar bites provided by Morton’s The Steakhouse, wine and champagne provided by Knightsbridge Wine Shoppe, a silent auction and iconic raffle with live bidding for a U.S. Open Mercedes Experience for two, and a runway show with Avant for Men, Belle Vie Chicago, Enaz, Juniper Boutique and Peach Carr. Buy your tickets here.

As with the prior events, Make It Better is proud to be a media sponsor of LAUNCH 2017. But even more importantly, I am honored and blessed to be the friend of the awesome Michael Rosengarden. If everyone lived with his convictions, what a wonderful world it would be.

What I Wish You Knew Contest: Teens Can Win $1,000 for Their Favorite Nonprofit

If you are a teen in northeastern Illinois looking to help a favorite nonprofit, here’s an easy way to earn $1,000 for the organization.

Send an essay, photos and/or video explaining why the organization is worthy of support to Rotary District 6440’s What I Wish You Knew contest.

It’s that simple. You tell potential funders why they should support a great cause and create a win/win/win in the process.

  • Win for you because you get to express yourself and do good.
  • Win for the nonprofit (even if it doesn’t win the $1,000) because you create another opportunity for others to learn about the organization.
  • Win for the Rotary because they learn about other excellent nonprofits and about you.

Students in the 71 clubs within the footprint of Rotary District 6440 are eligible. A full list of clubs can be found on the Rotary’s website.

The contest is the brainchild of Rotarian and long-time youth advocate Sharon Weingarten. Through decades of experience as a teacher and social worker, she understands the importance of empowering youth to speak their own minds and learn that they can make a difference for others.

“Asking smart questions gets youth to open up,” Weingarten explains. “Kids are good. I see them wanting to make a difference but not have a clue how to do so.”

Weingarten founded the website WhatIWishYouKnew.com in order to give voice to more youth. She is working closely with Rotary Head of Youth Services for District 6440 Vera Mayer to facilitate the contest. A panel of judges will determine the winner, who will be announced in April at the 2017 Rotary District 6440 conference and covered by Make It Better Media. The contest deadline is Jan. 15.


Vera Mayer, Casey Luc and Sharon Weingarten

Additional contest details can be found here.

Kudos to Weingarten and the Rotary for initiating the contest. Make It Better is proud to be a media sponsor and help empower youth, grow support for outstanding nonprofits, and strengthen the community.


Angelique Ndamage and Casey Luc, Weingarten’s assistants. Ndamage attended Evanston Township High School and currently attends graduate school in Paris. Luc, Weingarten’s assistant, attended Glenbrook North and is currently a student at George Washington University, where he is studying Global Public Health.

I’m Thankful for You and Our Community Partners

Happy Thanksgiving.

Please know that everyone working for Make It Better is thankful for your support and interest. We count it as a blessing.

We wish you and your loved ones good food, good times and an opportunity to count your own blessings as you gather around your Thanksgiving dinner table tomorrow.

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday arriving hard on this holiday’s heels, we also wish you a happy start to the holiday shopping and giving season.

We particularly encourage you to support the businesses and nonprofits that are part of our Make It Better community. All are Local Treasures — family-owned businesses and well-run nonprofits, working hard to provide a valuable community service.

Thank you.


Entrepreneur Darryl Rose Built Success on Values and Rules That Every Mother Loves and Every Community Needs

“‘Thank you for teaching my kid how to work!’ This is what I frequently hear from moms,” Darryl Rose, founder of Get Dwell, declares early in our interview. Those statements are just one of many examples that confirm that Rose grew his Chicago- and North Shore-based remodeling and handyman business on great values — adeptly creating opportunities that help others while providing outstanding service. His grin and twinkling eyes attest to the pleasure this brings him too.


Darryl Rose

Rose is the prototypical 21st century entrepreneur; he builds win/win scenarios for customers, employees, partners and the community. It’s no surprise that Get Dwell has been voted “Best Of” by our Make It Better audience four out of five years.

Ironically, Rose still acts surprised that he became an entrepreneur working with his hands at all. With a good job in corporate sales, a wife, two young children and a Wilmette home, Rose thought his path through life was set. But, he was happiest helping neighbors’ with their handyman needs and being a volunteer designer and builder of stage sets and other projects for his kids’ schools. His true calling was obvious to everyone else.

It took his wife, Beth — the person most likely to miss the security of his corporate life — to convince Rose to give it up and start a small home maintenance business out of their kitchen in 2005.

“Just leap and the net will appear,” Beth promised.


Darryl and Beth Rose

Not only did the net appear, but it also quickly expanded. From routine home maintenance, Get Dwell rapidly morphed into small construction and remodeling projects. But, when the market crashed in 2008, he needed a quick new strategy. Rose sagely reframed Get Dwell as just a handyman — rather than remodeling — business.

“Even in a down market, North Shore homeowners still needed simple repairs.” He adds, “But winning Make It Better’s ‘Best of 2010’ in the Handyman category is what really put us on the map!” Get Dwell has grown steadily ever since and was recognized in 2014 during Remodeling magazine’s Big50 awards.

Ten “People First” Rules That Develop Strong Businesses

Rose cites his “people first” rules as a driving force for the business. They ensure that his staff knows how to interact well with customers (as well as develop good work habits for teen summer employees). These 10 rules will develop good employees for other businesses too:

  1. Show up on time.
  2. Communicate effectively.
  3. Work efficiently.
  4. Leave the project site clean and ready for use.
  5. No cell phone usage on the job.
  6. No swearing (and yes, they have a “swear jar” for money donated to charity every time an employee breaks this rule).
  7. Lead where you are strong. Team where you are weak.
  8. Do what you say you are going to do.
  9. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
  10. Give back to your community.

Giving back is a core principle at Get Dwell. Rose is particularly proud of his firm’s long history of working with Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that helps low-income home owners repair and stay in their homes.

Sharon Riley, executive director of Rebuilding Together North Suburban Chicago, says, “We have worked with Darryl Rose for years and his firm, Get Dwell, is one of the finest contractors we know. Darryl and his wonderful team are always ready to assist our applicants who have fallen on hard times with outstanding skilled work delivered with the highest degree of respect and professionalism.

“Darryl’s immense generosity and compassion in giving back to our neighbors in greatest need, from Evanston north to Waukegan, is inspiring.”


The Get Dwell Team

Building the Geek Squad of Home Repair — Local is Better

Perhaps the best evidence of Rose’s entrepreneurial acumen is his success at building partnerships with 27 family-owned hardware stores in Chicago and up the North Shore.

“My goal is to build the ‘Geek Squad’ of home repair using local tradesmen. This keeps consumer dollars local and makes local communities stronger,” Rose explains. “Hardware stores like Millen in Wilmette, Lemoi Ace in Evanston and Gordon’s Ace in Chicago are multi-generation owned and deeply entrenched in their communities. Many of these stores are on their fifth generation of family ownership! They understand how to serve a community they love.”

Rose built a good business by honoring his own passions and staying true to his family and community-centric values. He’s now growing a much wider network of support for local businesses throughout the region. Rose’s values and collaboration-building sensibilities should be copied widely.

He concludes by quoting Henry David Thoreau. He explains, “The old master first began his journey by building a cabin in the woods alongside Walden Pond.

“Thoreau wrote, ‘I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.'”


Responding With Love After the Election


It’s not complicated to understand what happened with the election, nor is the best path forward difficult to understand. It’s not easy to execute though.

The “haves” can’t ignore the “feeling left behinds.”

Instead of feeling stunned or reacting with anger, we need to listen, understand and love better those who feel trapped or even downwardly mobile.

One look at the county-by-county map of the presidential election results makes obvious that the 21st century haves — cities, coasts, university towns — voted for Hillary.

Study closely Hillary’s campaign and fundraising techniques and you will see that she largely ignored vast swathes of our country. Doesn’t help that those who feel like “forgotten Americans” watched her raise more than $500,000,000 — one-half billion dollars — for her campaign while she ignored them too.

Affluent, well-educated citizens can’t continue to succeed indefinitely at the expense of the rest of the country. Girls, women and minorities can’t succeed at the expense of boys, men and whites. That is the primary message of this election.

America grew strong because hard-working, primarily well-intentioned individuals and families spread out and found opportunity across America. Yes, they were white and, yes, they built their success on the backs of slaves, minorities and women without votes. So while we’re grateful that the wrongs embedded in that initial success now are being addressed and rectified — like slavery and bigotry — we also can’t ignore that the descendants of those founding families in middle America face an increasingly bleak future.

Everyone needs to be able to see a hopeful future. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a hopeful future in place need to listen to, learn from and organize around doing more to help those who don’t.

We need to do more to strengthen home towns and local communities too — rather than continue the practices that have decimated them. That will make America even greater.

Also, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the pollsters and media elite got it wrong. As communication channels proliferate, media companies compete ever harder for ever-shrinking advertising dollars that target affluent audiences — because they are the ones with money to spend on advertisers’ products. Therefore, it’s more profitable for these media companies to study and report on the affluent and elite. It takes unprofitable time and resources for them to really survey and listen to middle America.

As a result of the stunning election results, I’m having unexpected, intense conversations with my children, extended family members and others. I’m learning even more about their frustrations with “the system.”

My daughters feel cheated that the woman lost and a misogynist won. Surprisingly, my sons somehow correlate this election with their empathy with Chris McCandless, the “Into The Wild” young man whose disaffection caused him to abandon his loving family and identity after graduating from college, and eventually died of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness.

Something is wrong when our daughters feel more empowered by their society than our sons.

My brother reminds me that he ardently needs one of those manufacturing jobs that Trump promises to return to the United States. He and I had to shepherd our family business — community grocery stores — through bankruptcy and dissolution. He’s been bumped from one downsized industry to another ever since then, earning less with every job. There is nothing racist, prejudiced or mean-spirited about him. He just needs the system to work for him too.

Listening, empathizing and responding with love is the best I can do for now — and ask everyone else to do the same.

I’m also grateful for the communications that have come from our Make It Better community, like this heart-rending and brave autobiographical essay by one reader.

Hopefully everyone in media and other positions of power — parents, politicians, affluent and educated others — will start listening better and responding with love. Working harder to find human commonalities with those who don’t share our demographics and political or philosophical views will help too.

Read more:

Prayers for Crushers Club Please

As you know, we love creating powerful virtuous circles of support for the most impactful nonprofits at Make It Better. This is why we started our Philanthropy Awards. We’re particularly proud of supporting Crushers Club with one of these awards. Please watch this short video to understand why:

Cubs Manager Joe Madden and Cubs Charities joined forces with Crushers Club soon after the organization received our award too. Please see Joe and Connie Falcone of Cubs Charities in action here:

Perhaps our favorite success story though is that Sally Schneiders and her family found a calling to support Crushers Club because of our award. And now she asks for one more powerful thing for it: Prayers. Please see Sally’s heartfelt plea below and add your prayers too. Thank you.


Just a few minutes ago, I was half way out the door on a run, but my phone rang. It was Sally Hazelgrove.

I picked it up, thinking she was going to confirm with me what time I would be arriving at Crusher’s today. I had butter softening on the counter in the kitchen, for the cookies I was going to bake and bring out to Englewood, along with donations for “carbo fests” from a couple of you (thanks!)

Sally had a hard time talking so I knew something was up, but I wasn’t prepared for what she was going to say. So many magical things were happening at Crusher’s — so many stories and so many kids powerfully impacted by her love and faith in them. Her “program”!

She told me in halting tones there are serious death threats against her … She is not sure why but thinks Facebook, or ‘cyber gangbanging,’ is the root of all of this. Sally has spoken out against the gangs, and certain members “hate on her.” 

Sally is often impervious to death threats with her faith in God, but this time she feels very human, and very scared for herself, her own children, and her Crusher’s kids.

She told me it was too dangerous for me to go out there today. So now what? Those kids need her, they need me, they need a lot of people to care about them. How do we do it without going out to Englewood?

For now, she asked me, please pray. And get others to pray for all of this to pass. She believes profoundly in the strength of our combined prayer and so I am asking you to do this. Please pray for Sally Hazelgrove and all of the kids in Englewood. 

I do not know what else to do!! Thanks for all of your past support and I PRAY I can go out there again soon — bring cookies and see them spar, make music, laugh, free to be themselves.

Thanks again!

Sally S.

Better Money for You and Others

Great news. Median household incomes in America surged up 5.2 percent last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is record-breaking growth — the largest increase since the government started keeping track in 1967. According to The New York Times, not only did household incomes grow, but poverty fell, health insurance coverage increased and years of stagnation ended.

Wow. That’s a lot of happy money news. Our economy is getting stronger and raising families up on all rungs of the economic ladder. Hopefully, this includes yours.

I’m delighted to report that Make It Better has even more good financial news and opportunities for you too — special opportunities and deals that will help you stretch your (hopefully) growing income further. We think of this as “Better Money.”

$500 Hubbard Woods Design District Fashion and Home Décor Shopping Spree  


It’s always a pleasure to shop in the beautiful Hubbard Woods Design District stores. Now there is extra incentive — when you stop by you can enter a raffle to win a $1,300 home or $595 fashion shopping spree there too. Entries close Oct. 1; so please visit in September. Learn more here.

$30 Off and Dinner Made Better By Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon 


Photo courtesy of Marley Spoon.

There’s a new meals-at-home delivery service in town — Martha & Marley Spoon. Marley Spoon launched to great success in Canada. Martha Stewart likes the concept so much that she now provides the recipes and a USA partnership.

Place an order here and use code BETTER16 to get $30 off your first box, as well as free delivery. According to our millennial friends, this is cheaper, easier and tastier than doing all of the grocery shopping and preparation yourself. SCORE!

Pomegranate Margaritas That Benefit American Cancer Society and Breast Cancer Research 


Depot Nuevo’s Pomegranate Margarita (Photo by Erica Barraca.)

Our favorite tequila, Wansas, created the tastiest and most beautiful margarita ever — the Wansas Pomegranate Margarita. We love it so much that we put it on the cover of our recent Entertaining Guide.

Four-time Make It Better Best Of winner Depot Nuevo kindly offered to donate $1 from every sale of this drink for the next six months to the American Cancer Society to fund breast cancer research. As my dear friend and ACS Lakeshore Division Senior Market Manager Maryann Rasmussen says, “You can’t beat cancer alone. We need everyone in the community to mobilize to make it happen.” We’re all in to beat cancer with this fabulous cocktail.


Alex Gonzalez, Director of Mixology, Wansas Tequila; Rob Garrison, owner of Depot Nuevo; Luis Monzalvo, Director of Mexico Operations, Wansas Tequila

As you know, Make It Better loves creating virtuous circles like this. Win for ACS and breast cancer research, win for Wansas and Depot Nuevo, win for you because you enjoy a tasty night out with a real winner and contribute to those working toward a cure.

Help Victims of Domestic Violence and Financial Abuse Through Allstate Foundation Purple Purse

Since 2005, hometown favorite the Allstate Foundation has helped more than 800,000 women who are victims of domestic violence (which often results in financial abuse too) through its Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program.

If you are reading this, you are likely more fortunate than the women served by the Allstate Foundation’s generosity. For the next few weeks, you can pay this blessing forward and stretch your philanthropic dollars even further by donating to the Purple Purse program.

Learn more here.

More happy news. According to Allstate, a collection of handbags are being specially created by Tory BurchChristian Louboutin and other designers to benefit the foundation. Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington has also joined the campaign as its ambassador for her third year.

Because we’re all fans of Kerry and designer bags, we look forward to supporting this virtuous circle in development too.