Big Shoulders Fund provides support to Catholic schools in the neediest areas of inner-city Chicago. The board of Big Shoulders Fund counts some of Chicago’s major power players and philanthropic donors such as Madison Dearborn Partners’ John Canning Jr, Lester Crown, Christina Gidwitz, Incisent Labs Patrick Ryan, Jr, Andrew McKenna, Beth White, Jude Reyes of Reyes Holdings on its executive board.
The next generation of these leaders are part of The Big Shoulders Fund Auxiliary Board which was established in 2007. Since its inception, the auxiliary board has grown incrementally in members currently boasting 265 active members; service hours for volunteer activities such as Give Back days, mentorship and committee participation; and money raised towards helping further the mission of Big Shoulders Fund from their marquee events Big Shoulders Fund Ball and Big Bowl. With their upcoming 2014 Big Shoulder’s Fund Ball taking place soon (Friday, September 26), we had a chance to speak with ball co-chairs, Analisa Auriemma and John Huber.
The Big Shoulders Fund Ball co-chairs spoke on what guests can expect at the event, their definition of philanthropy and why they got involved with the organization.
SociaLifeChicago: How did you get involved with Big Shoulders Fund?
Analisa: I got involved with Big Shoulders through my brother Frank Auriemma, who was ball chairperson two years in a row. When I first attended ball, I was involved with another charity at that time. Then I began volunteering with Big Shoulders starting with give back days, happy hours and then last year I was on the logistics committee to help plan Big Bowl.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to co-chair ball this year. It’s been really good to be involved with something you are passionate about. There are many facets of being involved such as, networking, going to give back days spending times improving schools. There are many ways to be involved.
John: Initially to get started my wife and I wanted to be involved with a cause that supported kids; education was something we were passionate about and we looked at several charities and Big shoulders stood out the most. We looked at a few others that provided education but they seemed more quick fixes rather than long term; building up education, strengthening it and get a bigger reach providing long lasting effects that we could see was something that attracted us to Big Shoulders. We attended a social gathering and from looking at the big board we saw the impressive list of industry leaders that were on there and these are people who get results in their everyday life and and that was how we decided to get involved. We started with going to socials and give back days and our involvement has grown since.
SociaLifeChicago: What do you hope for guests not too familiar with the cause, to gain from ball?
Analisa: We try to do a program for people to know what our purpose is. Our VIP reception gives guests a chance to interact with kids from the schools and speak to them about their experiences. The end goal is to raise money and have a great party. I hope we have people leave saying “I can’t wait until next year.”
John: Try to brings group not involved at all in the room to see what big shoulders has to offer.
SociaLifeChicago: What does philanthropy mean to you?
John: A better way of life
Analisa: Generosity. Caring. Selfess.
SociaLifeChicago: What is something you would want someone on, say the big board of big shoulders, to advice or prep you on?
John: To me, I treat it like a corporate situation at work where you are fortunate enough to have a mentor relationship with someone in a higher position at your company. If you could seek advice from them on how to take it to the next level and how to find to find ways to make more connections or finding more sponsorships or ways that will allow us to be more productive because they’ve all done it. That would be great to see how they made their connections and worked up to that level.
SociaLifeChicago: What type of philanthropic legacy would you like to leave?
Analisa: Not have it be just a money thing, though that is important. Being able to help by doing and being hands on.
John: Spending time with other kids that aren’t your own and doing more than just writing checks.
How does what you do in your professional life transfer into your philanthropic work?
Analisa: My job is in sales and our product is industrial staffing and the gratification of being able to get someone a job so they can support their family, correlates with giving kids an opportunity to get an education. In sales, you’re not afraid to walk up to people and ask for money. [laughs]
John: I’m in legal compliance, however we have a lot of projects and team work and part of me leading the team is using those organizational skills to lead well.
SociaLifeChicago is a media partner for Big Shoulders Fund Ball.
*Images: Emmalee Luckas/SociaLifeChicago