Preventing the Spread of Ebola by Giving

As we get closer to the holiday season, we hope you’ll take the time to think about how you can make it better for some less fortunate people. The below organizations are in need of help. Please read more about them and consider helping out, especially with time-bound issue such as the Ebola outbreak.

Preventing the Spread of Ebola;   Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach

(708) 496-3900  Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach is a medical surplus recovery organization based in Chicago that has stepped up to address the worsening Ebola crisis in West Africa. In the last several years, Mission Outreach has worked with the Archdiocese of Chicago and Rotary International to establish relationships with medical facilities in Nigeria. Through these connections, the organizations have been able to Prevent the spread of Ebolatransport life-saving supplies to facilities struggling under Nigeria’s impover- ished healthcare system. Mission Outreach is asking individuals and companies across Chica- go for financial donations that will help transport supplies and protective gear to medical workers in Nigeria. Individuals and companies can make financial donations at

Barbara J. Timmer Family Foundation

(312) 371-6566 |
The Barbara J. Timmer Family Foundation has been established in honor of mom, wife, sister, grandma and friend, Barb Timmer, who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) on October 5, 2011 and lost her battle with AML on November 7th, 2011. The purpose of the foundation is to raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia Research Foundation while remembering Barbara’s love and legacy. You can help raise awareness by supporting their annual walk in September or by donating items for their raffle. Monetary donations can be made on the organization’s website and raffle donations can be sent to The Barbara J. Timmer Foundation at 219 Austin Ave., Park Ridge, IL 60068. For more information please visit bar-

Art Therapy at  Music Institute of Chicago

Music Institute of Chicago847-448-8307 The Music Institute of Chicago (MIC) is one of the largest and most respected community music schools in the country. The school’s mission is to provide lifelong engagement with music through education for people of all skills and age levels. The school carries out its mission by providing music education for individuals whose opportunities are limited, and by supporting the growth of music therapy for individuals with special needs through the Institute for Therapy Through the Arts (ITA). ITA uses integrated arts to help children, adults and families improve functioning related to psycho- logical, developmental, cognitive and physical factors. The school uses monetary donations to help broaden access to musical instruction and clinical services in creative arts therapy. To make a donation or to learn more information, please visit the school’s website ( or contact Sally Braybrooks at 847-448-8307.

Written by MAURA FLAHERTY at Make It Better

Because A Day Without Music Is A Wasted Day


“A day without making, playing, writing or thinking about music, it’s a wasted day.” -Andre Previn

Alexandra and John Nichols feel similarly to Andre Previn. So they donate their time, talents and treasure generously to create music opportunities for others.  Alexandra’s leadership considerably broadened the reach of the Music Institute of Chicago. The full interview with Andre Previn is on the Make It Better website.

This is one of the reasons that the Nichols received the Cultural Visionary Award on Monday at the Music Institute of Chicago’s Anniversary Gala, where Previn was also recognized. But the Lyric, CSO, Art Institute, CPS programs and more have benefited from their commitment to the arts. The Nichols are Civic Treasures indeed!

Lang Lang and Mom

If you read Lang Lang’s autobiography, Journey of A Thousand Miles, My Story, which I highly recommend, you will learn that he spent most of the years of his youth living away from his loving mother, to be with a tyrant father who pushed him relentlessly.

So I love that as a superstar, he now travels with her. She accompanied him to the Music Institute of Chicago’s gala last night where he received the Dushkin Award. And I love that he treated my mom with great kindness there too.

Lang Lang and my mom, Virginia Blankenbaker, at the Music Institute of Chicago gala last night. My CoChair, Katherine Daniels is seated in the foreground in front of them.

Me at the Podium.


Lang Lang, me, Hamilton Chang

Lang Lang, me, Hamilton Chang

Lang Lang electrified the audience with his words. He loves Chicago because he got his first major performance breaks here. He loves educating as many children as possible musically. And he loved the performances by the children of the Music Institute of Chicago for him.

“Musicians and teachers are important. But the donors who support them are just as important too.”

Lang Lang made thousands of lives better last night by agreeing to receive this award– starting with mine, but also including the audience, the Music Institute of Chicago faculty and the over 10,000 students supported by the school’s diverse programs. The gala raised almost $1.3 million for those programs.

Thank you Lang Lang!

Lives Made Better 92,901 and counting

It’s the Red Shoes!

Photo courtesy of The Los Angeles Times

In his home country of China, classical pianist Lang Lang is a superstar. And he is the worldwide Rock Star of Classical Pianists too. Why? The same spirit that allows him to glory in wearing these red shoes.

Lang Lang loves life and performing as much as he loves his music. His spirit is effervescent.

This is one of the reasons that I am so excited to be Chairing the Music Institute Of Chicago gala with Catherine Daniels on May 13, at which Lang Lang will receive the Dushkin Award. I’m also particularly pleased that we will be giving the Cultural Visionary Award to Jim & Kay Mabie.

Please join us — the event promises to be just as extraordinary as Lang Lang’s spirit.

Learn more here.

Lang Lang, Great Jazz and the Music Institute of Chicago

Lang Lang after a performance at the 2010 World Economic Forum at Davos.

The Music Institute of Chicago will rock the staid Four Seasons gala model next spring. Charismatic Lang Lang receives the Dushkin Award and the evening ends with a fab jazz cabaret. Please mark your calendars now for May 13, 2013!

Tammy McCann – Wow! Welcome to the North Shore

Tammy McCann – a phenomenal talent – is the new Music Institute of Chicago Jazz Vocalist in Resident. We heard her sing and watched her light up the room with her personality tonight. Win for MIC. Win for the the North Shore. Win for us.