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Featured Philanthropy: ChicagoCAC’s Associates Board

ChicagoCAC’s Associates Board is a group of young professionals who are passionate about raising funds and awareness for the center. They do this through service projects, community outreach, and periodic fundraisers. Their 2022 summer fundraiser, Night Under the Lights, is happening on August 23 from 5 – 8 PM at River Roast in downtown Chicago and is an opportunity for the group to share more about the organization while having fun networking with their peers. We talked to Associates Board President Sam Harvey, Vice President Kelly Spresser, Secretary Rebekah Siliezar (all pictured above), and Recruitment Chair Ryan Winchester about their time working with ChicagoCAC and accomplishments in leading this board.

How did you become connected to ChicagoCAC?

Sam Harvey: I moved to Chicago in 2018 and after volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter in Appleton, WI, I was looking to find an organization with similar impact in the community. My aunt, Julie Shelton, introduced me to ChicagoCAC (she was a board member at the time). I joined the Associates Board in 2018 and have been an enthusiastic supporter of the organization ever since.

Kelsey Spresser: I initially started volunteering at ChicagoCAC through my involvement with the Junior League of Chicago before becoming a co-chair of their ChicagoCAC Committee. From there, I was able to meet some of the incredible staff, learn about the Associate Board, and have been a member of the Associate Board since 2018 as well.

Ryan Winchester: I discovered ChicagoCAC while looking for local organizations to support and volunteer at during the start of Covid. I reached out to some senior members of the staff looking for a way to get involved and was referred to the Associates Board.

Rebekah Siliezar: For almost four years, I researched resilience in teens from underserved backgrounds. After documenting hundreds of stories of stress, I looked for interventions that supported youth through challenges. I chose to support the efforts of the center because it sets children on a path to heal out of some of the most horrendous challenges a child could face.

What inspires you most about our work and what motivates you to give back to your communities?

Ryan Winchester: The work that ChicagoCAC does is incredibly impactful to the community, and is crucial to ensuring that the children can grow up to live successful and fulfilling lives, overcoming the abuse that they have experienced.

Sam Harvey: The level of impact ChicagoCAC’s work can have on a vulnerable young person’s life is what motivates me. The work they do can change a person’s life trajectory. What motivates me to give back to my community is knowing how fortunate I am and wanting to make a positive impact in people’s lives.

Kelsey Spresser: It seems like the least I can do given what these children have gone through. The impact that the ChicagoCAC has on the community and the children’s lives is invaluable. The entire ChicagoCAC staff is incredible. It has been an honor to find a way to help in even the smallest of ways – packing backpacks with donations from the annual Back to School Backpack Drive, planning a range of fundraisers and hosting Family Nights for families to enjoy dinner and games.

Rebekah Siliezar: While serving on the board, I volunteered with the Child Life team by hosting sessions of play as a coping strategy. Over Uno and crafts, I witnessed the strength and resilience of our kiddos. They motivate me to devote my career to supporting children, and I will be attending Georgetown University Law Center to learn how to use the legal system to advocate for children.

What project, effort or partnership between us have you found most rewarding? 

Sam Harvey: Becoming President of the Associates Board has been very rewarding since I get the chance to know the inner workings of the organization on a much deeper level, and sitting in the Board of Directors quarterly meetings motivates and inspires me to stay connected and do more.

Rebekah Siliezar: I loved our holiday toy drive! Most of the center’s families struggle with significant challenges. This event set up a shopping center for caregivers to choose gifts for their children. I loved helping parents brainstorm perfect gifts for their children. It was a fun way to ease a major burden for parents during the holiday season.

Kelsey Spresser: Yes, the Holiday Toy Drive and party has always been such a wonderful event! It’s fun to be able to interact with the kids and see them enjoying themselves. Additionally, the Junior League and Associate Board typically hosts the cookie decorating table. What is most impressive might be the kids’ commitment in their frosting to cookie ratio!

Ryan Winchester: Helping manage the annual summer fundraising event has been the most rewarding experience I’ve been a part of since joining the Associates Board. We have been able to raise a substantial amount of money for the organization and bring awareness of ChicagoCAC to many individuals through this event that otherwise did not know we existed.

How can interested parties join the Associates Board?

Sam Harvey: Reach out! Say “hi” at an event or reach out via email to any board member or the organization itself for more information. We’re always looking to add motivated and talented team members – you can apply at the link above or contact Ryan!

Rebekah Siliezar: Yes, email Ryan, our head of recruitment! We love to add more voices to our board.

Kelsey Spresser: I echo everyone – please reach out to Ryan and chicagocacassociatesboard@gmail.com! We would love to share more about what we do and how you can get involved.

Ryan Winchester: As the Recruitment Chair, interested individuals can reach out to me directly to learn more about what we do, and to apply for a spot on the Associates Board. I can be reached via phone/text at 661-330-7926, or email at ryanwinchester@gmail.com

What would you say to someone who’s considering ChicagoCAC as a cause to support?

Kelsey Spresser: Come to an upcoming event to meet staff members and see the incredible impact ChicagoCAC has on children’s and families’ lives! Your support will allow for continued advocacy, mental health services and education/prevention. If you can’t make our “Night Under the Lights” event next month, we would love to see you at A Night of Heroes on September 22nd at Theater on the Lake. Tickets for A Night of Heroes will go on sale on August 1, but additional information on the event can be found here.

Sam Harvey: You will not regret putting your time and effort towards this cause. I may be biased, but I truly think it gives back the largest return of your time and money when it comes to making an impact on a person’s life. I am proud to be a part of this team, and want to say thank you to all ChicagoCAC staff for what they do on a daily basis to help some of the most vulnerable children in our community.

Ryan Winchester: Agreed – this organization is made up of incredible people doing amazing things for the community. Thank you to all the supporters and staff members who run ChicagoCAC! You are all examples of the everyday heroes of this world.

Rebekah Siliezar: Your support makes a difference.

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