On December 4, Help Metropolitan Family Services Transform Children’s Lives

People often think about charity in terms of the tangible, like donating old coats or collecting canned goods—but Metropolitan Services does much more than that, and you can be part of it at their holiday celebration on Dec. 4.

But what about intangible needs, like counseling for a family with an out-of-control teen?

“We have prevented that child from going to the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS),” says Fernando Freire, executive director of Metropolitan Family Services’ Evanston and Skokie Valley Centers. “Many times what we do, nobody knows.”

For more than 150 years, Metropolitan Family Services has offered a spectrum of services to families in crisis in Chicago and its suburbs. From economic stability education to legal aid to mental health services, this nonprofit gives people what coats and canned goods can’t.

Metropolitan is also different from other nonprofits because it caters to the whole family, from children to the elderly, and focuses on prevention.

“We really try to work with families at the beginning to keep those families from deteriorating,” Freire says.

The organization also helps people who need to get back on their feet. Tana Paul, a program manager with the Evanston and Skokie Valley Centers, recalls one woman who came to the center with a history of drug abuse and prostitution, and a son that was born with developmental disabilities.

With help from Metropolitan, Paul says the woman has been sober for several years, regularly attends AA meetings and has her son enrolled in a school for special needs children in Evanston.

“She’s amazing,” Paul says.

To continue serving more than 45,000 families and individuals through its 7 community centers, Metropolitan requires a lot of funding; the nonprofit’s operating revenue for 2010 is $32 million, according to its website.

That’s why benefits, like the upcoming Holiday Celebration on December 4, are so important.

“The benefit is really a celebration of our friends who support us, and the family that we’re honoring, and families in general,” says Metropolitan Board Member David Tropp of Glencoe. Tropp is a senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis and has been involved with Metropolitan since the ‘80s.

The Duchossois family will be honored at the Holiday Celebration as the organization’s 2010 Family of the Year. Tropp says that honoring a family further illustrates Metropolitan’s focus on helping families, not individuals.

In addition to a silent auction, the Holiday Celebration will feature a wine raffle fundraiser; there are three winners, with one taking home “an instant wine collection,” Tropp says.

Last year’s Holiday Celebration raised $390,879, and the net goal for 2010 is $500,000, says Ann Pinkney, senior director of marketing and communications at Metropolitan. For every dollar Metropolitan receives, at least 80 cents directly funds client services.

“I never cease to be amazed by what we can accomplish,” Tropp says.

The Holiday Celebration benefit is at 6 p.m., Saturday, December 4, at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago. Tickets may be purchased on Metropolitan Family Services’ website. For more information, contact Patricia Mathis at 312-986-4046 or email [email protected]