Making It Even Better

A good Kitchen Cabinet helps improve www.MakeItBetter.net — and our community.

Time. Trust.

Quality. Connection.

Ideas. Entertainment.

Help (For Yourself and Others).

Want or need any of the above? You can find it right now at MakeItBetter.net — For Family, Community and You. It’s your e-guide to life on the North Shore with tips, “how to’s,” resources, community conversations and ways to give back. And it’s brought to you and used by North Shore residents.

If you are fortunate enough to live on the North Shore, then chances are you are well-educated, affluent and achievement-oriented. You try to do your best at whatever you undertake. You likely moved here to raise your children, and you probably would like to make a difference in the world, too.

Well, you are in great company. We are all trying to raise happy, healthy kids, care for others, find balance, and enjoy and appreciate all that life has to offer. We care about our community and want to support what is best about it. Many of us also recognize that as the fortunate few (in our country and the world), we should be helping those less fortunate than ourselves.

The only problem is, our most valuable resource is time. There just isn’t enough of it! And a tempest of needs, opportunities and media barrages us each day. Therefore, we welcome fast answers that we can trust when we are looking for resources, ideas and opportunities. And we are usually happy to be entertained or inspired in the process.

What is the best way to sort through all that information clutter and meet our North Shore needs? Whether it’s as simple as finding more options for weeknight dinners or something more difficult — like providing the best care for your aging parents, finding the right academic or athletic support for your kids, or fund raising for a cause dear to your heart, MakeItBetter.net is there for you.

One year ago, I sat at Mindy Fauntleroy’s large French country kitchen table with 12 diverse women. Awe and fear made it difficult for me to breathe, let alone eat or speak.

Many of the women didn’t know each other, but I respect and enjoy each of them immensely. These women live fully — with passion, intelligence and wit — while raising great kids, and giving time, friendship and good advice, even when they really are too busy to do so. I didn’t (and still don’t) want to disappoint them. I describe two of the 12 here. But the others are equally impressive, and you can read about the entire group online.

Catherine Rocca is my “Mother of Many” mentor. My oldest befriended her youngest in preschool. I admired her wisdom and compassion as she ran a sophisticated but comfortable household, nurtured four very different kids and served on many boards, often as president, while her consultant husband traveled the world. A full-page story in the Sunday paper featuring her as an example of how to parent well a few years ago confirmed my judgment. Heather Blackwell organized her first fund-raiser for a cause dear to her heart as a fourth-grader in New Trier Township. She’s lived a spirited life of service and achievement ever since. This year, while chasing after her three very athletic grade-school children, she is chairman of the Evanston Northwestern Hospital Ball — probably their youngest chairman ever.

I looked at my friends and started speaking. “Thank you so much for being here.” Gulp. “I have a dream, and it includes you. I want to use my resources and passions for writing, nurturing, organizing and community-building to be a publisher of media that tells stories that help, connects people, and nurtures the best locally and globally.”

(Fortunately, no one started laughing.)

“I know that this is both ambitious and naive,” I continued. “Right now, I’m talking about more of a journey than a finished product.”

(Fortunately, no one rolled their eyes.)

“Will you please join me and help MakeItBetter.net grow?

Much to my delight, they did! These women became the Make It Better Kitchen Cabinet — a talented, wise and trustworthy group with more than a dollop of sass. They have worked hard, with lots of help from Make It Better readers, to grow the new site and an accompanying community that will meet your needs. Being with the Kitchen Cabinet always energizes me, and I hope that their work will energize, entertain and inspire you too.

How does MakeItBetter.net work? Think of it as connection, sharing and inquiry. We are your cup-of-coffee conversation with a virtual friend. People help themselves and each other by asking questions and sharing experiences, resources and passions on the Web. Many features built into the site accomplish this.

Our Make It Better message board is an open forum, a place to ask for help (does anyone know a good caterer or babysitter?), share travel ideas, bitch a little and tell us what’s important to you. We are also excited about the Local Treasures and Giving Back features of the site.

As you have read on these pages, a Local Treasure is a person or business that makes where you live special — whether it be an extraordinary volunteer, artisan, cottage industry or outstanding local business. You can honor them with a recommendation as a Local Treasure, and they will receive an e-mail certificate worthy of framing. Each month we feature a Local Treasure from those nominations with an article and picture. You can see the certificates on display at already-featured Local Treasures — the Book Stall in Winnetka and Ziers Meats in Wilmette.

Make It Better can also help facilitate all your philanthropic and service activities. Post items in our charity auction site, and your organization will receive 100 percent of the proceeds. Right now, for example, you can stay home and still make a difference by bidding on two front-row tickets to a Bulls game on Tuesday, March 11, to benefit the Ted Mullin Cancer Research Fund or on other fabulous items. Also, you can post events on our Event Calendar, describe your organization and activities, recruit additional volunteers and link to your home page in our Giving Back section.

We hope our “How To’s” become an endless source of fund-raising — and friend-raising — ideas.

Finally, you can subscribe to our e-mail newsletters for entertainment and timely tips and inspiration. And we promise to maintain quality over quantity.

We hope that subscribers never feel spammed by Make it Better.

Just by subscribing, you will Make It Better, because we will feed a family of five nutritious dinners for a week through a donation to the Chicago Food Depository for each e-mail address that opens our first newsletter, which will be sent on Valentine’s Day. So please do log on and join us. Get connected with your community, and help us to help you and others. As you help us grow, we’ll help you save time, be entertained and find resources and ideas that you can trust.

Thank you!