Women Helping Women collects multicultural and diverse ability dolls for Jewish Child & Family Services

October 13, 2015

Related PeopleLindsey Paige Markus

Sometimes, for a child who has been traumatized, the best therapist in the world is the doll in the child’s small hands. From baby dolls to Barbie dolls to boy dolls, these toys are often the key to unlocking communication and encouraging the child to express difficult emotions.

Jewish Child & Family Services (JCFS) successfully uses dolls as a therapeutic and educational resource for young clients in its Child Welfare program, as well as Counseling and Child Development programs and the need for new dolls is ongoing. Since children appreciate seeing a bit of themselves reflected in their dolls, it’s important to offer them toy companions from a variety of cultures—with different skin colors, ethnicities and genders, as well as differently-abled dolls.

At its Fall Mix-and-Mingle on Thursday, Nov. 5, Women Helping Women encourages each attendee to bring a multicultural or diverse ability doll to donate to JCFS.

Hosted by the women attorneys of Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., Women Helping Women is an after-hours group offering professional women the opportunity to network, build business and accomplish charitable service at the same time. Over wine and hors d’oeuvres, each Mix-and-Mingle spotlights a different nonprofit agency serving women or women and their children and identifies practical ways that participants can help.

“Who doesn’t smile when they shop for a doll?” said Lindsey Paige Markus, a Principal at Chuhak & Tecson. “JCFS’s request for culturally diverse dolls beautifully underscores our firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

In light of this commitment, Chuhak & Tecson’s Diversity and Inclusion Council will partner with Women Helping Women to co-host the event.

JCFS has been serving the Chicago community for more than 150 years, currently touching the lives of about 30,000 people in one way or another annually. The organization offers a wide range of services and programs, not only to Jewish families but to adults and children across the community.

The Child Welfare program, focal point of the Mix-and-Mingle, provides foster care, group homes and adoption support.

“We are a niche provider for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services,” said Stacey Shor, vice president and chief development officer. “We’re especially known for being able to take the really complex cases, everything from babies who’ve arrived in a full body cast, where you can’t have just a standard foster parent, to teenagers who’ve moved from home to home and suffered severe trauma.”

Shor will be speaking at the November mixer and promises to tell some of the stories of children serviced by JCFS. She also has invited foster care and residential staff to the event to answer questions.

Dolls that are donated, Shor said, will be used for trauma therapy and as gifts for birthdays and holidays and for children just entering the foster care system.

“For any child, not just children who have suffered trauma, being able to have a doll that looks like you is meaningful,” she said. “Receiving a doll that you can use to express yourself, that you can care for, that you know is for you personally, can be very powerful.

“We feel strongly about giving new items as opposed to used items to children whose lives are in flux,” Shor added. “These are typically kids who have never gotten anything new, something that was just for them.”

Ideas for purchasing culturally diverse dolls, as well as the opportunity to make the purchase, can be found at the organization’s Amazon Wish List.

Markus considers each WHW mixer a highlight of the year.

“When you see the mounds of donations on the table,” she said, “—for this event, culturally diverse dolls that will be donated beforehand by employees at all levels of the firm and by attendees during the event—everyone gets excited and is able to see firsthand the tangible support we are able to provide these agencies.

“There is something about working women coming together, not only to network but to help others as well, that creates an indescribable energy in the room,” Markus said. “We have attracted some extraordinary professionals. As a result, we’ve been able to do impactful work for so many worthy organizations.”

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 Jane LaGrassa at (312) 201-3447 or