An Evening with YLS Rock Stars

Thanks to all your great work, we raised over $11,000 at our YLS Evening with Rock Stars event, bringing critical resources to the communities that need them most! THANK YOU to all who attended and contributed! If you didn’t get a chance on Friday and you would like to pledge, please text ROCKSTAR to 41444 to make a $10 donation.

During the night we recognized three of our Rock Star Finalists: Rachel Hoge, Naja Morris and Sean Tenner for their service over the past year, and through a live vote at the event, Naja Morris was selected as ourRock Star Volunteer of the Year! Congratulations again to Naja!

A special thank you goes out to NBC 5 Chicago Morning News Anchor, Stefan Holt, our headline speaker, for his encouraging and motivational words during our VIP reception. Stefan applauded the group on their community engagement and enthusiasm for philanthropy. As a young professional himself, Stefan has a unique perspective on the struggles that some of us face balancing work, family and philanthropy, and he encouraged us all to continue to make a difference in Chicago. We thank him again for being our guest.

A huge thanks goes out as well to AT&T for opening up their doors for us to celebrate in their amazing Flagship store. Thank you as well to our emcee Dougie Stylz from B96 and to DJ Clash Gordon who energized the night with his lively beats.

We were happy to see most of you head to the photo wall to snap a few pictures and now here is the proof. Check out those photos and more great shots from the event here and tag yourself on Facebook. You all looked great!

Sign up to be a YLS Member! For those of you interested in becoming more involved with the Young Leaders Society, please complete this brief form. For our members, keep in mind that Premier Membership has some amazing perks from access to exclusive meet and greets with some of Chicago’s top CEOs, to extra benefits at our events.

Volunteer with Kelly Hall YMCA

YLS volunteers helping out at November's Fresh Produce Days

The season is about giving back and YLS’s volunteer committee makes it easy to do so. The committee has helped organize two great events with the Kelly Hall YMCA that offer rewarding and impactful ways to give back. Kelly Hall YMCA is also the recipient of the split-the-pot raffle for YLS Festivus. Raffle proceeds will purchase toys and necessities for the children of Kelly Hall. Buy your raffle ticket HERE! Fresh Produce Day this Saturday Join YLS members at the YMCA of Greater Metropolitan Chicago’s Fresh Produce Day on Dec. 3 at the Kelly Hall YMCA. The Kelly Hall YMCA is a safe haven and provides essential services to the under-served community of West Humboldt Park. Volunteers will also break down cardboard boxes so it’s a green-friendly opportunity as well. This event will take place outdoors, so please dress appropriately. When: Saturday, Dec. 3 (8:40 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) Where: Kelly Hall YMCA 824 N. Hamlin, Chicago (West Humboldt Park) RSVP: For more details and to sign up, click here! Kelly Hall YMCA Holiday Party Help spread the season’s cheer among children at the Kelly Hall YMCA Holiday Party in United Way Partner Community, West Humboldt Park. Volunteers will set up and decorate for the event, participate in arts and crafts and gift giving to the kids, prepare food and distribute to families, and clean up. Your participation in this event will help make this holiday one to remember. When: Saturday, Dec. 17 Where: Kelly Hall YMCA RSVP: For more details and to sign up, click here!

It’s Festivus Time

Kick off this season right and sign up for our year-end YLS Festivus today!

When: This Friday, Dec. 2 (6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.) Where: Hotel Allegro, 171 W. Randolph RSVP: Click here to buy your ticket today! Last year’s holiday party was the first event for many YLS members. Their first opportunity to meet some of Chicago’s most interesting and civic-minded young professionals and their first exposure in a social setting to Give, Advocate and Volunteer, and learn what it means to LIVE UNITED. This year, what better way to pay it forward than by inviting a fellow young professional to their first YLS event. And what better introduction to YLS is there than YLS Festivus from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. this Friday at the beautifully renovated Hotel Allegro. Tickets are $55 and include heavy appetizers, open premium bar and a chance to hit the dance floor to live music spun by DJ RAy REy. All proceeds from YLS Festivus, sponsored by Comcast, support LIVE UNITED 2020, United Way’s 10-year vision to channel income, education and health resources into communities of greatest need throughout the Chicago region. In addition, there will be an extensive silent auction and a Split-the-Pot raffle. You do not need to be present to participate in the raffle and you can purchase tickets HERE. The proceeds from the raffle will provide gifts for the children of Kelly Hall YMCA this holiday season.

Special thanks to the Festivus Host Committee and generous event sponsor, Comcast!

Host Committee Bunmi Akinnusotu – United Way | Anteco Cross – Paylocity | Tregg Duerson – Goldman Sachs | Michael Harris – Little Black Pearl | Joe Jerz – United Way | Mike Matthews – PwC | Sharbel Shamoon – Baytree National Bank & Trust | Annie Smith – BMO Harris Bank | Angela Wells – Comcast

YLS Spotlight: Pawel Kaczmarek

Pawel Kaczmarek is a member of the YLS special events committee. Along with the rest of the committee, he is finalizing the details for Friday’s YLS Festivus at Hotel Allegro. Read on to learn more about YLS’ signature party, what connects Pawel to YLS and why he “works” for fun. Why did you join YLS? I’ve always wanted to be in a position to give back and YLS lets me do so while working with a variety of interesting young professionals. What can you tell us about this year’s YLS Festivus this Friday? YLS Festivus will be a great event this year. Not only the does the party take place at the beautiful Hotel Allegro, but we’ll also have a premium open bar, heavy appetizers, a split-the-pot raffle and live music by DJ RAy REy. To top it off, there are also some wonderful items available at this year’s silent auction. What makes YLS the right option for you? The people. My first YLS event was last year’s holiday party and I quickly realized that the organization is full of great individuals who I would enjoy working with. What would you say to someone interested in joining YLS? Do it. If you find that it’s a fit, then you’ve gained something great.   If not, what did it cost you? Now, onto some fun questions. What is your favorite movie? The Bourne Trilogy is great. Favorite Book? Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five or Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy iPod Favorites? I’ve never owned an Apple product but my favorite artist at the moment is David Guetta. Where did you go to high school and college? Maine South and Indiana University in Bloomington, respectively. What are your biggest hobbies? Working out and working on a project car, a 1995 240sx. Pawel Kaczmarek YLS Special Events Committee Member & Equity Research Associate at William Blair & Company

YLS Spotlight: Christine Heim

Christine Heim brings a unique perspective to her role as a member of the YLS communications committee. Christine is a former full-time employee of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and now works at the American Red Cross, a United Way funded agency. Read on to learn more about her thoughts on YLS, the Red Cross and her passion for all sports at the University of Iowa.   Why did you join YLS, and what is your current role with YLS?  I joined YLS as a communications committee member in July after I left my full-time position at United Way. I wanted to continue to stay involved with the organization and meet new people, and I knew YLS would be a great way for me to do that. There are so many good nonprofit opportunities. What makes YLS the right option for you?  YLS is one of the best non-profit groups that I’ve been a part of for young professionals. The variety of opportunities to give back, network and grow professionally offers something for everyone. I also love the United Way staff involved in YLS — they’re a great group! What is it like working at the Red Cross, a United Way funded agency?  The American Red Cross is an amazing organization, dedicated to its mission and serving our community. There’s never a dull moment working at an organization that helps during disaster. In Chicago alone, we respond to about 3-4 fires every day, so even when you don’t hear about a disaster, we’re helping. It’s great to be a small piece of the difference. What would you say to someone interested in joining YLS?  Do it! There are many opportunities to get involved in ways that are meaningful to you, and meet like-minded, philanthropic people. There’s something for everyone in YLS. You won’t be disappointed. What was your favorite YLS/or United Way events?  I went to a fundraiser for YLS last year at MillerCoors’ exclusive rooftop pub. They had lots of games, good food and prizes to win on behalf of United Way. Many people came, donated and had fun. It was a great time! Now, some fun questions. What is your favorite movie?When Harry Met Sally Favorite TV show?  Old school: Golden Girls. New School: Modern Family Favorite book?  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Best concert you have attended?  Jack Johnson at Alpine Valley What are your IPOD favorites?American Girl, Tom Petty, Anything by Hootie and the Blowfish, 3 names: Whitney, Celine and Mariah. What are your biggest hobbies?  Playing and watching sports — especially the Hawkeyes!; spending time with friends; doing puzzles Christine Heim YLS Communications Committee Member &  Digital Engagement Associate,  Greater Chicago Red Cross

YLS Volunteers Join the Club

By Bob Gosman, YLS Communications Chair, Public Communications Inc. At 6-foot-4, YLS volunteer committee member Tyler Guth is used to having people look up at him. His height, though, has never been much of an asset when he’s playing hoops. “I’ve always been tall but terrible at basketball,” he said. Not to the kids in the Off The Street Club. Guth and a group of YLS members volunteered their time and spent the evening with the kids Oct. 20 as part of the Third Thursday program. Activities included pumpkin carving, board games and yes, basketball. “The elementary school kids thought I was actually good at basketball,” Guth said with a big smile. “Most fun game I’ve ever played in.” The YLS members and the rest of the volunteers are treated like rock stars from the second they exit the bus. Off The Street Club, the city’s oldest boys and girls club, has been dedicated to improving children’s lives in West Garfield for more than 110 years. The Off The Street Club Kids run up to the bus and give hugs to everyone. Then, they are bursting with excitement to begin the night’s activities. “They really appreciate having someone take an interest in their lives,” Guth said. “It’s a chance to make a pretty big impression on someone in one day and they certainly make a big impression on you.” Since this opportunity takes place once a month, it gives YLS members busy on the weekends a chance to volunteer during the week. On the way back to Michigan Ave., the bus drops people off at both train stations. “This is a great group of kids,” Guth said. “It can really get you hooked on volunteering.” The next opportunity with Off The Street Club is Nov. 17.  Click here  for more details.

YLS Member Spotlight: Zach Walters

Why did you join YLS, and what is your current role? I joined YLS to become more active in my community, through volunteering and helping those in need. I felt that it was important to have a balance in my life of helping myself succeed, and helping others succeed. I work to get more people involved in YLS, and those currently involved, more active within YLS. What is your favorite experience of being involved with United Way? My favorite experience working with the United Way was partnering with the YMCA in Pilsen. The kids are in a pretty rough area, and this was a refuge where they could play soccer and other sports and have a lot of fun. It was a very rewarding experience because the kids look up to you, and you have a very real effect on them. What got you interested and involved with the United Way? My involvement with United Way started young; I just didn’t realize it at the time. My father was very judicious about how he donated his money, making sure it was spent in an efficient and principled manner.   Every year, the United Way was his choice of non-profits. Once I graduated college and began working, I wanted to contribute to the community. After a few searches, I came upon the United Way Young Leaders Society. I went to one event, loved the people, the atmosphere and here I am. What are your favorite things about YLS/UW involvement? My favorite things about the United Way and YLS are the great people you get to be around and work with on a daily basis–and the impact that you can have–merely by volunteering your time. What would you say to someone interested in joining YLS? I would say absolutely try it. It is a great way to become more involved in your community and you meet a lot of great people. And it’s a lot of fun! Zach Walters, an investment associate at RBC Wealth Management, first learned about United Way from his father. Apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Walters, the vice chair of the YLS Member Development Committee, is excited about the way YLS can impact the community in Chicago. He is busy helping to shape the next YLS 101 event, a free evening on Oct. 4 to connect with young professionals and learn about United Way and YLS.

Q & A with YLS Executive Chair, Angela Wells

The new YLS Chair works in the Government Affairs and Community Investment Department for Comcast, enjoys the platform YLS gives young professionals to take a leading role in the community and is inspired by her fellow members. Oh, and her all-time favorite movie is the original Karate Kid. For the A to Z on Angela Wells, read on. What are your major goals for YLS this year? I’d love to see YLS continue to flourish. My goal is to inspire more young professionals to instill a lifelong commitment to the community. More specifically, we want to grow our membership, focus on United Way initiatives such as education, and add member value by creating new programming including leadership development and several networking and volunteer events throughout the year. Why is YLS a good group for young professionals to become involved in? YLS is a dynamic group with meaningful events that allow young professionals to take a leading role in impacting their community. What do you do for your job at Comcast? At Comcast I work in our Government Affairs and Community Investment department where I focus on local community and government affairs initiatives. Some of these include our Comcast United Way Campaign, our national day of service – Comcast Cares Day and promoting our Comcast Leaders and Achievers scholarship program. A current initiative I’m excited to promote in the community is Internet Essentials from Comcast, a new program that will give students who qualify for the federal free lunch program access to low-cost Internet and computers. It’s wonderful to be involved with the launch of this program in an effort to close the digital divide. I love the fast-paced environment of the media industry and being involved in the community through my role at Comcast. In addition to YLS, I’m also a part of the City Year Associate Board, Women in Cable Telecommunications and the Cornell Alumni Association of Chicago. How did you originally get involved with YLS? I first discovered United Way when I lived in Houston and led the Comcast United Way Employee Campaign. From there, I became active with the Young Leaders group as I was inspired by the work of United Way and I was also looking to meet like-minded young professionals. When I moved to Chicago, I wanted to become more familiar with the community and I quickly discovered YLS. My first YLS event in Chicago was a holiday celebration where I had the opportunity to meet several committee members who encouraged me to become more involved. What was your best YLS experience? The best experience has been meeting people who I now can call close friends and see regularly in YLS and outside of YLS. Without my involvement with YLS I would never have had the chance to meet so many extraordinary and dedicated young professionals. There are so many worthy nonprofits. What is it about YLS that made you decide to take on a leadership role? I learned a great deal about the work of United Way and its impact in the community through leading my company campaign. Once I understood the impact and the critical focus on Heath, Education and Income – I knew it would be an organization I would be involved with for years to come. I wanted to take on a leadership role to inspire others and to become an ambassador for United Way. In YLS, I truly believe there is a unique opportunity to network, become educated about issues facing the community and volunteer alongside like-minded professionals. Why do you continue to stay involved and how? I continue to stay involved with YLS because I truly care about the work United Way is doing and I enjoy the company of all the YLSers who share the same drive. It’s always great to meet with such inspiring and personable members in the group and there are always new people to meet! Now onto some fun questions! Best thing about Chicago The many festivals, farmers markets and amazing food. Worst thing about Chicago Traffic. When I have free time, you will find me where in Chicago? In hot yoga classes, walking around Lakeview, at various community events through my involvement with Comcast, at local sports bars rooting for Cornell and Penn State… Favorite places to eat Chicago Diner, Whole Foods and Mercadito Favorite television show Modern Family and Good Morning America Favorite movie Karate Kid (1984) Favorite musician George Strait What songs are always on your iPod? I’m a little old fashioned and do not own an iPod. I still listen mostly to the radio! I use Pandora on my home and work computers and love country music, classic rock, jazz standards – some of my favorites range from Edith Piaf, Randy Rogers Band, Jo Stafford, Julieta Venegas to Cage the Elephant. Favorite vacation spot Houston to visit family and friends Favorite quote “…And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of the little things the heart finds it morning and is refreshed…” from the Prophet (on friendship) by Kahlil Gibran

YLS Member Spotlight: Laura Perez

How did you become involved with YLS? I joined after attending an Oktoberfest event with a friend. I was struck by how well the event was put together how welcoming everyone was. Had I not signed up, I would have regretted missing an opportunity to become more engaged and involved with my community. What was an experience that really connected you to YLS? I joined the Special Events committee and we were in charge of planning the Annual Holiday Party. We implemented the buddy system, and we were thrilled with the response. The beauty of the buddy system is that we reach out to new or potential members before the event. They are paired up with YLS committee members so when they arrived at the holiday party there was someone to greet them right away, introduce them to people and make them feel welcome. The buddy system engages newcomers right away and allows YLS veterans to extend their network. What is your favorite YLS memory? Without a doubt, it was a volunteer event last year at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. We were there to teach the kids about health and fitness, but it was the YLS volunteers that left with big smiles on their faces. The kids were so enthusiastic and absolutely adorable. Why do you continue to stay involved with YLS? Events like the holiday party and the volunteer events are two of the biggest reasons. These events make me excited to become more involved with YLS, which is why I was honored to accept the position of Chair for the Special Events committee. I look forward to another exciting YLS year. Laura Perez Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago & YLS Special Events Chair

YLS “Movie and a Mission” Inspires Young Adults

By Richard Drieberg, YLS Issue Awareness Committee Member, Enterprise Valuation Group More than 40 people attended the event which featured a screening of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, the acclaimed 2010 documentary focusing on some of the failures of the American public education system. The documentary hones in on a number of public school students from diverse backgrounds and also transformational education reformers such as Geoffrey Canada. While the movie entertained the audience with touching personal stories, surprising statistics, and humorous missteps along the educational reform path, its ultimate message was clear: American public school students deserve a better education than what they are receiving today. To that end, the United Way’s Katie Cangemi followed the screening with an overview of the LIVE UNITED 2020 vision and ambitious goal of helping 50,000 early-childhood and middle school students from under-performing areas succeed as they prepare to take their next step along their education journey. The vision focuses on the two most influential transition periods in a student’s life, and aims to ensure that younger children enter school ready to learn, and middle school students enter high school prepared to succeed and on the track to graduate. The movie’s message resonated and even brought tears to many of the viewers, but the path to ultimate success for the students featured in the film is still in question. The LIVE UNITED 2020 vision will work to make sure so that hard working students throughout the city will get the high quality public school education that they deserve.