Oct 27, 2014

Women Helping Women collects craft, gardening supplies for Concordia Place at fifth anniversary gathering

At an after-school oasis called Concordia Place, teens come together three days a week to weed and water gardens they had planned and then planted—faithfully nurturing the vegetables for hands-on cooking and nutrition classes they’ll enjoy after the harvest.

Herbs they raise will help scent a line of teen-crafted body care products with names like Achilles’ Heal Shea Balm, Chapaccino Lip Balm and Midnight Forest Deodorant. Students not only create the soaps and other products themselves, but they also are involved in all aspects of sales and marketing.

These are initiatives of the award-winning Emerging Leaders Program at Concordia Place, a nonprofit community outreach in the North Center and Avondale neighborhoods. With curriculum-based early learning and preschool programs as well as other activities for teens and senior citizens, Concordia Place is a gathering place for people from different generations and economic, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds.

That’s why Women Helping Women has chosen to partner with this ministry for its Fall Mix-and-Mingle on Thursday, Nov. 13, at Lloyds Chicago. Hosted biannually by the women attorneys of Chuhak & Tecson, WHW is an after-hours networking group giving professional women the opportunity to accomplish business development and charitable service at the same time. Each mixer spotlights a different nonprofit agency serving women or women and their children and showers the organization with gifts and necessities.

“Partnering with nonprofits is such a dynamic element of Women Helping Women—it gives our professionals exposure to all the great charities out there that are doing wonderful work,” said Kim Boike, a principal in Chuhak & Tecson’s not for profit, healthcare and corporate transactions practice groups.

“I am particularly excited about this upcoming Mix-and-Mingle because it marks the fifth year of the event,” Boike said. “It’s amazing to think of the charitable organizations we have helped support and the professional networks we have helped build over the past five years.”

Having witnessed the vibrant ministry of Concordia Place firsthand, she was part of the committee that selected the organization for partnership.

“Nothing beats walking into their facilities and seeing a bunch of happy little kids riding around on trikes in their multi-purpose room,” Boike said. “With their sliding tuition scale, they do a fantastic job of making sure everyone has access to quality child care.”

Concordia Place is a ministry of Concordia Lutheran Church, which opened its first child care center in 1981 after a request from three single moms who weren’t even attending services. Award-winning early childhood, after-school and summer camp programs resulted, along with a second building 20 years later. Both centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and last year served 750 families and individuals.

“We’re trying to remove barriers,” said Brenda Swartz, president and CEO of Concordia Place. “Our centers are unusual because of the economic inclusivity made possible by our sliding fee scale. Unfortunately, a lot of children’s programs become economically segregated, but we enjoy a rich diversity—economic as well as ethnic and racial.”  

Swartz has invited a single mom whose family has benefitted from Concordia Place to speak at the Mix-and-Mingle about her experience with the programs.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Chuhak & Tecson at this event,” Swartz said. “In many ways our values are aligned with the firm’s because of the role this firm plays in the community. Their willingness to host an event like this takes them well beyond the confines of their law practice.”

Over the past five years, professional women have proven that mingling over cocktails with fellow entrepreneurs, decision makers and potential strategic partners is an ideal match for community service. In fact, WHW gatherings have become so popular that Chuhak & Tecson has once again bought out Lloyd’s Chicago for the evening in order to provide plenty of space to mix and mingle.

Attendees for the upcoming event are encouraged to bring items to stock the shelves at Concordia Place: regular and colored pencils; drawing, dry erase and Sharpie markers (thin and thick); liquid watercolors; scissors and glue (stick or bottle); lined loose-leaf notebook paper, 8.5 x 11-inch colored printer paper, glossy photo paper and card stock; Play-Doh, Moon Sand, tissue paper, feathers, colorful fabric ribbon and white boards.

Trowels and adult-size garden gloves also would be appreciated for the teen program.

The Fall Mix-and-Mingle takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. at Lloyd’s Chicago, 1 S. Wacker Dr. If you would like to receive an invitation, please contact Caitlin Coffee at