Over 300 guests attended the Celebrate!Evanston fundraiser to benefit Evanston Community Foundation Sunday night at the Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette. The event grossed over $246,000 to support the foundation’s mission and programming.

“Not only have we reached our largest attendance to date, but this year we have our largest sponsorship support ever,” said benefit co-chair Mary Finnegan.

The fall bounty-themed evening featured a dessert contest, a stage parody highlighting the foundation’s many contributions to Evanston, and a live auction. 

The “Wizard of EvanstOz” gave cameo roles to Jenny Avery of Next Theatre Company, State Rep. Robyn Gabel as Glinda, the good witch, music teacher Matthew Hunter as Dorothy’s brother Evan Stone, Patrick Keenan-Devlin of James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, former ECF board chair Judy Kemp, local businessman Bob Reece, and actress Nancy Voigts Godinez.

Event co-chairs Mary Finnegan and Lisa Altenbernd with Paul Finnegan and Stephen Hagerty. (Photos by Jill Brazel.)

“Evanston is our home, our mission and our cause,” Evanston Community Foundation CEO Sara Schastok told the guests.  “Because of your support we are able to invest in our community to make the good work of nonprofits better. We can support initiatives that make systemic changes to this community we love. We can train individuals to make a difference through their leadership. And we can connect private philanthropy to funding opportunities in Evanston. It all adds up to creating a more bountiful Evanston.” 

Celebrate!Evanston was made possible with support from Corporate Benefactor Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, Platinum sponsors, Hagerty Consulting, IRMCO, Latham & Watkins and Gold sponsors BMO Harris Bank, EcoTekk, Jenner & Block, Make It Better, Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Northwestern University, Pircher, Nichols & Meeks, and Presence Saint Francis Hospital.

Silver and Bronze sponsors include Edward Jones, Evanston Now, Evanston RoundTable, First Bank & Trust, John J. Cahill Inc., Mather Lifeways, The Merion, North Shore Community Bank & Trust, Reed Smith LLP, Romano Wealth Management, Vinic Wine, Whole Foods Market Evanston,, Farnsworth-Hill Inc., Mills Custom Audio/Video, Scott Byron & Co., Stuart Cohen/Julie Hacker Architects and Three Crowns Park.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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