Better Makers: UNICEF Luncheon Celebrates Community Commitment to Early Childhood Development, Features Sesame Workshop Speaker

Better Makers: UNICEF Celebrates Community Commitment to Early Childhood Development

“…there is perhaps no more important window of time than the first 1,000 days of a child’s life,” said Elizabeth McCostlin, managing director for the Midwest region of UNICEF USA, at this year’s Humanitarian Awards celebration. “For 72 years, UNICEF has been there for the world’s children — no matter how remote, no matter how complex, no matter how dire the situation.”

Over 435 guests gathered on Oct. 4 at the Ritz-Carlton to support the world’s children through the critical, lifesaving work of UNICEF USA.

The eighth annual UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon shed light on the urgency of early childhood development, with the theme #EatPlayLove. UNICEF USA honored two women who dedicate their lives to children; both in early childhood development and the mental health space. The 2018 honorees included Dr. Colleen Cicchetti, executive director of the Center for Childhood Resilience at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Phyllis Glink, executive director of the Irving Harris Foundation.

“If we all do our part, big or small, to act on the behalf of those who have no voice or no power, we can transform the world,” Glink said.

Sherrie Rollins Westin, president of Global Impact and Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop and UNICEF USA board member, delivered the keynote address. Westin connected with the audience, sharing personal stories of her teenage children and their transformational trips with UNICEF. The nonprofit educational organization has joined forces with UNICEF and many other partners to address the individualized needs of children, everywhere.

“UNICEF has arguably saved more children’s lives, more than any other organization in the world,” Westin said. “I believe in order to contribute the most to society as a whole, investing in young children is where we can have the greatest return on investment.”

All funds raised will support UNICEF programming, like early childhood development.

UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon: Phyllis Glink, Dr. Colleen Cicchetti, Sherrie Rollins Westin
Honorees Phyllis Glink and Dr. Colleen Cicchetti with keynote speaker Sherrie Rollins Westin at the UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon.
UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon: Elizabeth McCostlin, Jennifer Zaugh, Amy Brown, Cecilia Pikul
UNICEF USA’s Elizabeth McCostlin with Co-Chairs Jennifer Zaugh and Amy Brown and Vice Chair Cecilia Pikul.
UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon: Chicago Humanitarian Awards Committee
The UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Committee.
UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon: School-in-a-Box kit
UNICEF supplies its School-in-a-Box kit as part of its emergency response for children and teachers worldwide. For $209.11, nearly 40 children are able to continue their education in the face of conflict or disaster.
UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon: UNICEF Inspired Gifts
Guests learn more about UNICEF Inspired Gifts, which are life-changing ethical gifts that help vulnerable children around the world.
UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon: impact
Impact: Glenda, with her 2-year-old daughter Tyra, in the learning space of a family home near Punta Gorda, Belize. UNICEF-supported programs help children who do not have access to formal early childhood development. The first 1,000 days of life shape a child’s future. Alongside nutrition and nurturing, play has a vital role in giving children the best possible start in life. (Photo courtesy of © UNICEF/UN034621/LeMoyne.)


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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She 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 is 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.