Best of 2017: Philanthropy & Community

Best of 2017, Philanthropy & Community: Valley Lo Club

For the seventh year, our readers have voted for their favorite Chicago-area businesses in 11 categories. But before that, for the first time ever, we asked you to send us your nominations before voting began. We received more than 6,700 nominations!

Now that the votes have been tallied, it’s time to announce our Best of 2017 winners. Share your thoughts with us on social media using the hashtag #Bestof2017.

Best Family Give-Back Opportunity


This revered home for people with developmental disabilities welcomes families as volunteers for many events, including the Annual Family Fest (Sept. 10 this year) and their Holiday Bakery.

Best Fundraiser

PAWS Fur Ball

Best of 2017, Philanthropy & Community: PAWS Fur Ball
PAWS Chicago Founder Paula Fasseas of Chicago with Jake and Stephanie Henry of Kenilworth (Photo by Sparenga Photography.)

What could be more awww-inducing than this annual event to benefit PAWS Chicago, an organization committed to building no-kill communities, ending the overpopulation of homeless animals and transforming animal welfare? Not only does it raise money to save homeless pets from kill shelters, but dogs are also welcome guests at the event!

Best Chicago-Area College

Northwestern University

Best of 2017, Philanthropy & Community: Northwestern

Location, location, location. The only major university built on the shores of a Great Lake, NU has spent hundreds of millions upgrading the campus in the past five years.

Best Real Estate Company


Innovation has been a focus here since @properties first opened in 2000, as evidenced by their cutting-edge advertising and sales programs. This locally owned business gives back to the community in myriad ways.

Best Private Club (Suburbs)

Valley Lo Club

This picturesque club, built alongside a 28-acre lake, is known for its lovely setting. Whether your thing is boating, fishing, golf, swimming or tennis, Valley Lo has it all.

Best Private Club (Chicago)

East Bank Club

The granddaddy of fitness clubs, Chicago’s movers and shakers were holding court here while you were still learning to do that Jane Fonda fitness tape. So grab a fresh-pressed juice and get to work!


More from Make It Better: 


Julie Chernoff, Make It Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and sits on the boards of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and Northlight Theatre. She and husband Josh are empty nesters since adult kids Adam and Leah have flown the coop. Rosie the Cockapoo relishes the extra attention.






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