Chessmen Club to honor Tiffany Rice, Mark Dennis

Tiffany Rice and Mark Dennis.

The Chessmen Club of the North Shore, Inc.’s 59th Annual Community Service Awards Dinner and Benefit will honor Evanston residents Tiffany Rice, founder of the Dajae Coleman Foundation, and Mark A. Dennis Jr., president of the McGaw YMCA.

This year the Gala will take place on Saturday, March 18, at the Hilton Orrington Evanston Hotel and will be emceed by Art Norman of NBC5 Chicago.

“Every year we honor two outstanding members of the community for their contributions,” said Chessmen President Andre Wallace. “Our annual gala also allows the club to raise money to support our charitable mission of serving our youth and seniors.”

Tiffany Rice works as a care coordinator for Cook County Health and Hospital Systems, where she provides healthcare education and guidance, advocacy, and resources for the Medicaid population. Tiffany holds a master's degree in public health from Elmhurst College.

She has served on the boards of several Evanston organizations, including Peaceable Cities and COPE.

The Dajae Coleman Foundation is a community based organization founded in 2013 to honor the life of Dajae A. Coleman, her son, who tragically lost his life to gun violence in September 2012.

DC3F offers programs that include free and fun community gatherings for youth, tutoring, scholarships for African American youth, summer reading programs exposing youth to diverse authors and books, and even a book drive this summer which gave away over 700 free books to over 200 youth.

Rice’s commitment to the youth in her community earned her the 2013 Forrest E. Powell Work Ethic Award and the 2016, 35 under 35 Young Leaders Making an Impact award. As a mother and an advocate of youth, she embraces the ideology that young people are the catalysts for change and peace in all communities.

Mark A. Dennis Jr. is president and chief executive officer of the McGaw YMCA. He previously served almost 12 years as the senior pastor of historic Second Baptist Church of Evanston. He serves on the boards of: Presbyterian Homes, Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, Presence St. Francis Hospital and the American Bible Society.

Dennis has served as president of The Alford Group Inc., a national consulting firm, has been a pastor, facilitator, consultant and lecturer to numerous houses of worship, seminaries, universities, colleges, hospitals, foundations, and other not-for-profit organizations throughout the United States.

He holds a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College; a master's degree in music from Bowling Green State University and a master of divinity degree from Howard University.

 The Chessmen will also honor two students, Lurianne Pene Nijine and Bernard Mason of Evanston Township High School, for their outstanding service to the community.

Bernard Mason has shown a significant desire to help those in our community who are less fortunate by volunteering nearly 300 hours for Everyone Cares Camp (a summer camp for kids with special needs located in southern Illinois). In addition to finding time to give back, Bernard is a student-athlete who plays on the Boys’ Varsity Volleyball team and will be playing volleyball at Hiram College in the fall.

Laurianne Pene Njine has demonstrated her commitment to giving back to the community by volunteering 236 hours in a variety of organizations throughout Evanston, such as, Fleetwood, Girls Play Sports, Robert Crown, Snowflake, Team ASAP at ETHS and Evanston Symphony Orchestra.  She’s involved in the Community Service Club and has also been an ETHS athlete.

The Chessmen Club was founded in 1958 as an all-volunteer run, non-profit organization that returns 95 percent of all funds raised back into the community.

It has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to local students of color, allowing them to continue their academic and career pursuits.  The Club has also distributed over 10,000 food baskets, feeding over 50,000 families during the holiday season, in addition to supporting other youth and community activities, such as the ETHS Black and Female Summits and the Fellowship of Afro-American Men youth basketball league (FAAM).

For more information on the Chessmen and to purchase a ticket to the Gala, visit the club's website.

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