Books & Brunch 2011

2011 Books & Brunch co-chairs Meg Cooper and Maureen Hegarty
Linda Legner makes sure everything is just right

It was a take down the walls, roll out the banners, wow the world kind of year for Books & Brunch, the Assistance League of Chicagoland West fundraiser that has become a preferred event for authors who respect our mission and love our crowds, so much so that Linda Legner has already signed our first author for 2012 and received pledges of assistance from two literary agents who attended B & B this year.
Anderson's waits for their first customers
Operation Early Reading

With attendance topping the 370 mark for the first time in Books & Brunch's 15 year history, the signature fundraiser truly looked different this year. Luncheon tables happily overflowed into the boutique area, giant seven foot tall ALCW banners proudly proclaimed our Caring and Commitment In Action motto, our philanthropy tables never looked better and ALCW
introduced it's profitable eBay venture to a broader audience by setting up an attractive table in the vendor area with jewelry and decorative items that brought in additional profit.

Operation New Start
Operation School Bell

Filling the Abbington on Tuesday, November 8 were long time supporters and people new to Assistance League. All were clearly impressed by the philanthropic displays showcased in the lobby. This year alone, more than 1600 coats have been distributed to 22 schools, 700 preschool students are checking out 270 literacy backpacks and 22 of the estimated 75 kitchen kits valued at $400 have been delivered for the 2011-2012 year.


Deb Newman, Joanna Williams, Ricki Lessig with helpers

Trish Reider at the membership table

Pat Mrozek selling raffle tickets 

Meg and Maureen with Luis Urrea, Marcus Sakey and Melanie Benjamin
An overwhelming part of Books & Brunch's success is the wide choice of local authors with national appeal. Luis Urrea, a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction, a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame and the author of 13 books, drove in with his wife from Naperville. Melanie Benjamin, who started writing historical fiction after her PTA days, lives eight minutes away from The Abbington, in Glen Ellyn. Marcus Sakey of Chicago, was dubbed “the reigning prince of crime fiction" by the Chicago Tribune. Sakey has film offers on three of his five novels and is hosting a TV show set to debut December 6 on the Travel channel. All three authors were so impressed by ALCW, they not only appeared at Books & Brunch, they donated priceless silent auction items as well.

Our own literary liaison Linda Legner with our authors

The authors were in high spirits, kibitzing with each other and engaging those who came for autographs in conversation. Melanie and Luis each donated a private book chat for a group of friends to the silent auction while Sakey donated an autographed collection of his first edition mystery thrillers, sure to skyrocket in value once the movies come out.


   Melanie Benjamin

   Luis Urrea

Marcus Sakey

Loreene Pawski and Marcella Santos from Community Development Institute
Books and Brunch took place on a raw and wet November day with dark skies and high winds outside but a bright and friendly demeanor inside as friends chatted, shopped and milled around the silent auction, raffle baskets and brand new wine raffle.  

Micki Rush and Nancy England

Boutique Shopping

Linda Gonnella and Meg Cooper

Marianne Cortopassi with friends

Betty Cronin (right) and friend

Meg with Lisa Racial and Yvonne Morrongiello from Catholic Charities

Mary McGovern and Betty Cronin

Carla with Donna DeFalco

Nancy, Carla and Micki

Marianne Cortopassi and Deb Newman

Carla with Carol Simler and Janelle Barcelona from Dupage PADS

Barb Keller, Nancy Newell, Carol Yee and Sally Bacon

Heather Laughman and Marie Raffl

Meg and Beth Waldo

Ginger Hopper

Sally Rozak, Susan Brodie and Kathy Motherway

Phyllis Young

Linda Gonnella and Friends

Beth Reynolds (center) from Burr Ridge Middle School
Lynn Moynihan and Meghan Radtke from Anne M. Jeans School, Burr Ridge

Joyce Hothan from Bridge Communities, Phyllis Young, Dick Johnson, Trish Reider, Marianne Cortopassi

NBC5 anchor/reporter Dick Johnson returned as master of ceremonies and has already committed to be back in 2012.  He projected a sense of urgency to our work, that what we do truly does matter in these economic times.
"As a resident of DuPage County, I already know what so many outsiders looking in do not. Behind the affluence of the DuPage County suburbs, there are people, families, children struggling in far greater numbers that most realize," Dick wrote.

Assistance League of Chicagoland West president Carla Feinkind took over the podium to further illustrate the overwhelming need in DuPage County and speak about our work.
"We are in the "Business" of helping neighbors realize more hopeful and successful lives. We have received touching personal notes from recipients detailing how our philanthropic programs helped as they turned their lives onto successful paths. The hard work, professionalism, dedication and vision of our members make a real difference in the lives of others and the work gives us all a sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of deep, purposeful friendships," Carla wrote.

Trish with Brian Anderson and Margaret Simak
VP Membership Trish Reider presented the 2011 Distinguished Donor Award to the Rotary Club of Darien, represented by Brian Andersen and Margaret Simak.
"Assistance League couldn’t do what it does alone. Each year, we recognize the generosity of one supporting organization with the Distinguished Donor Award. And in 2011, it goes to the Rotary Club of Darien.

Long-time member Kathy Burns and her husband Frank, a Rotary member, brought Assistance League to the Club’s attention. The group designated our chapter as the recipient of their spring charity auction—and if you can imagine, Rotary raised over $14,000 for us that night."


Next, Trish presented the 2011 Ada Edwards Laughlin Award to Phyllis Young. This award, named for a co-founder of National Assistance League, recognizes an otherwise unsung Assistance League member who has worked behind the scenes without expectation of accolades. With this award, peers honor a peer for her dedicated but self-effacing service.
"Phyllis works nonstop with quiet & organized determination on each project she tackles. She has run the Silent Auction for Books & Brunch more than once. She joined Operation New Start—which delivers all new kitchen tools and service-ware to families leaving shelters for independent living—first as a delivery team member and then as Co-Chair. It didn’t take her long to tame the inventory monster and do it with a shining smile. This year, she accepted Co-Chair of another philanthropy, Operation Early Reading—and is already taking it to a new level as she forges a volunteer relationship with McDonald’s Corporation. She is truly a great ambassador for the chapter, and always includes and makes new members feel welcome."

The announcement of our grand prize raffle donated by Bella Costa Jewelers of Willowbrook goes to Marie Raffl
Guest Speaker and journalist Debbie Lively gave a poignant presentation about her life and how an Operation New Start kitchen helped her get back on her feet during a difficult time. Lively's story had guests and members alike digging into their purses for a totally voluntary, extremely generous $5,000 collective donation that is being matched by an magnanimous anonymous member.

The highlight of the afternoon were entertaining speeches by our three authors - Marcus Sakey, Melanie Benjamin and Luis Urrea.  

Thanks to all the special guests who joined us at Books & Brunch:
Karen Kuchar and Eileen Sachanda from Family Shelter Services

Susan Fritz and Kim Stephans from HCS Family Services
Joyce Hothan and Karen Stewart from Bridge Communities
Yvonne Morrongiello and Lisa Racial from Catholic Charities
Carol Simler and Janelle Barcelona from Dupage PADS
Beth Reynolds from Burr Ridge Middle School
Lynn Moynihan and Meghan Radtke from Ann M. Jeans School, Burr Ridge
Andrea Paris and Sandi Henderson from North School, Villa Park
Loreene Pawski and Marcella Santos from Community Development Institute
Brian Andersen and Margaret Simak from Darien Rotary