Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Through Heartland Alliance, Kimberly is Thriving as a Mother and Sister

For those of us who have lost a parent, sadness and emptiness can feel overwhelming. Imagine losing your mom as a teenager and then having to raise your younger siblings, making sure they remain healthy, have clothes to wear, and are succeeding in school.

That’s Kimberly’s story. But it’s just part of the story.

As the children in her family blossomed, Kimberly fell further behind. She placed their needs in front of her own, without regard to her own personal success and happiness. Then when her partner became physically abusive, she made an incredibly tough decision – leave or continue to be victimized and exposing her children to an increasing amount of danger.

She left.

In a shelter, she connected with Heartland Alliance, a partner and grantee organization of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. As one of the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations, Heartland Alliance works in communities around Chicago to serve those who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Heartland provides a comprehensive array of services in the areas of health, housing, jobs and justice – and leads state and national policy efforts, which target lasting change for individuals and society.

Her caseworker worked to restore Kimberly’s sense of dignity, helping her find housing, getting her re-enrolled in school and learning parenting skills.

Today, Kimberly is studying to become a social worker, hoping to someday help other individuals who are victims of abuse and neglect, and giving people a renewed sense of hope.

Heartland Alliance aims to achieve lasting change for their clients. It’s with that same goal, along with her own drive, passion and sense of optimism that will help Kimberly’s and her family experience the happiness they deserve.

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation partners with Heartland Alliance to build safe, stronger communities. Together we can help Chicagoland shine brighter. Donate now.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Building Cantigny's Future

by Matt LaFond, Executive Director, Cantigny Park

About a year ago, we announced major revitalization plans for Cantigny, the former home of Robert R. McCormick in Wheaton. We didn’t have a name for our project at the time, only big plans for the estate’s gardens, grounds and museums.

Project New Leaf is still years from completion, but progress came quickly in 2017. Just before Labor Day, the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park reopened after a 10-month renovation. If you’ve had a chance to visit, we hope you agree that our world-class military museum is better than ever—as an educational resource and as a tribute to those who served or serve today.

“Better than ever” aptly describes our goal for Cantigny Park overall. Through Project New Leaf, the McCormick Foundation is investing to ensure a superior guest experience for current and future generations of visitors.

Colonel McCormick, our benefactor, would want nothing less. We honor and share his vision for Cantigny as a community gathering place for learning and recreation.

More progress is on the way. Next spring our new farm-themed playground will open to visitors, followed by a grand reopening of the redesigned Display and Pond Gardens. These areas will be signature attractions at Cantigny for many years to come.

Our landscape design partner for Project New Leaf is Sasaki Associates from Boston, the same firm responsible for the new Chicago Riverwalk.

Changes are in store for Robert R. McCormick’s former residence as well. We envision the mansion becoming much more than a museum. Ideas under review include spaces for meetings and receptions and creating opportunities for civic learning and social engagement. Structural work on McCormick House is ongoing as we preserve one of Chicagoland’s most cherished historic landmarks.

As Project New Leaf enters its second year, we thank our guests for their patience and understanding. The park will stay open throughout 2018, and current plans call for the return of favorite events such as our popular outdoor symphony concerts and LEGO Train Show.

This is truly an exciting time in Cantigny’s history. The staff is energized, and feedback from park visitors is positive. They see and sense that a good thing is getting even better.

With much more work ahead, we hope for a light winter and early spring!