Better Makers: Cheers to 100 Years of Union League Boys & Girls Clubs Programming

In 1919, a young man who had just lost his father in World War I found refuge in an organization housed on the West Side of Chicago. One hundred years later, that same nonprofit serves nearly 15,000 youth across the city. Serving as an agent for change and a beacon of hope, “the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs is committed to developing and inspiring the next generation of American leaders.”

Toasting 100 years of serving Chicago’s youth, the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs celebrated its centennial year with an evening of dinner, dancing, and storytelling.

The 42nd annual gala — 100 Years of Building Great Futures — was held Nov. 2 at the Union League Club of Chicago. Drawing over 400 supporters, the celebration raised over $400,000 for the clubs’ after-school programming.

Current and alumni members shared stories of how the organization has changed their trajectory.

Union League Boys & Girls Clubs Board President Craig Labus reflected on his experience as the nonprofit’s first alum to become president of the Board Executive Team.

“The highlight of the evening, for me, was having a group of club kids to kick off the paddle raise,” said Celine Fitzgerald, 2019 gala chair. “Because of their thoughtful and genuine speeches showing the impact of supporters’ donations, we hit record goals! I can’t wait to begin planning for the 2020 Gala and our next 100 years of great work.”

Each day, over 1,600 youth participate in Union League Boys & Girls Clubs’ programming, focused on academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.

The 2019 gala sponsors included The Fitzgerald Family, Bernardi Securities Inc., BMO Wealth Management, Craig & Anita Labus, The Shade Family Foundation, Cathcart Family Foundation, C.D. Peacock, Peak Construction Corporation, and Rivers Casino.

Gala committee members included Catherine Bernardi, Tim Cunningham, Cindy Doloughty, Stacy Fleming, Kathy Hatseras, Margaret Jahn, Linda Jakubs, Gail Kiss, Jill Kosonen, Craig Labus, Lynne Rinkoski, Lisa Shade, and Heidi Shade.

Union League Boys & Girls Clubs: Denise Fitzgerald, Gerry Fitzgerald, Celine Fitzgerald
Denise, Gerry and Celine Fitzgerald
Union League Boys & Girls Clubs: Cindy Doloughty, Craig Labus
Cindy Doloughty and Craig Labus
Union League Boys & Girls Clubs: Hector Perez, Stephanie Montanez, David Ruiz
Hector Perez, Stephanie Montanez and David Ruiz
Union League Boys & Girls Clubs gala Chicago
Dinner reception at the 42nd annual Building Great Futures Gala.
Union League Boys & Girls Clubs: Micah Materre, WGN
WGN-TV’s Micah Materre served as emcee of the evening.

Emily Stone earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work has been published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.