Ideas for the Next Century to Serve Chicago are Put “On the Table”

Around the table this afternoon, members of the American Red Cross shared stories of giving andphoto receiving. Many said inspiration comes through a personal connection. Volunteering or supporting a cause is also something that’s been passed on to us through many generations.

“My dad set a really good example for me,” said Jennifer Alt, new to the Red Cross resource development team this month. “He instilled in me the importance of giving back.”

Like Jennifer’s dad, Red Crossers around the table who have children are teaching their kids the value of volunteerism and giving back, whether it’s dividing up a dollar in four quarters to give to people who need it, or bringing them to places, such as Leader Dogs for the Blind, like Susan Westerfield did with her daughter. That spirit of giving is how Susan is setting a good example for the next generation and why she joined the Red Cross after many years in corporate sales.

“I’m awestruck by the work we do,” said Susan Westerfield. “You really can make a difference. I love talking about it.”

2015 is a special centennial year for charities in Chicago. Both the Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross were established 100 years ago in 1915. As a kickoff to The Chicago Community Trust’s Centennial, organizations across the region participated in an open dialogue about the future of our community where we put our ideas “on the table.”

Many of these conversations were shared on social media via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, which helps bring our community a little closer in the digital age.  Downtown at the Willis Tower, the Red Cross held a blood drive to draw in donors for the constant need for blood. At our headquarters in the Illinois Medical District, the discussion was about supporting other agencies in our network, whether we’re running a race for a cure, or asking a friend for a few dollars to help send a kid to summer camp.

These are investments our team believes in. That’s because we know the Red Cross can’t do it alone – we need help from the entire philanthropic community.  We’ve been serving Chicago for 100 years, and we’re looking ahead to serve 100 more. Together, with our community partners, we can accomplish so much in the next century. For more information on the Chicago Red Cross centennial go to

“It feels really good to give,” said Heidi Mucha, Chief Development Officer. “We all know that feeling and that’s why we’re part of the Red Cross. It’s in our power to help others have that same experience so they’ll be inspired to give back to our community.”

Story and photo by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

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