Chicago – One of the most community-oriented businesses in the Chicago area is preparing for its annual “Celebration of Giving” Benefit Gala. Calahan Funeral Home, a family-owned mortuary establishment located in the Englewood community, created the Calahan Foundation in 2009 to support youth preparing to attend college and to provide them with contemporary role models. As a 501©3 non-profit organization, the Calahan Foundation raises funds that are used to underwrite its charitable giving programs.
Headlining this year’s “Celebration of Giving” Benefit Gala will be R&B vocalist and Broadway actress Fantasia, winner of the 2004 American Idol award, eight-time Grammy Award nominee, and winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. Also on the show will be Indie singer and songwriter Avery Sunshine. The gala and performance will be held on Saturday, Dec. 6 at the UIC Forum, located at 725 West Roosevelt Road, in Chicago. The evening will begin with a VIP reception from 6 to 7 p.m. The program & concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and hosted by Val Warner, co-host of the popular ABC7 talk show Windy City Live.
The benefit gala will also award the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Wayne Watson, president of Chicago State University; and the Give A Hand Up to Give A Hand Out Award to Father Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of The Faith Community of Saint Sabina.
Calahan family members participate in every aspect of the Calahan Foundation’s fundraising and charitable giving. As a family, they believe in giving back to the community. Husband and wife team Edward and Shirley Calahan serve on the board of directors along with their children Edric and Valerie. Working together, their mission is to create ways of “Giving a Hand Out to Give a Hand Up.”
Since 2011, through the Edward and Shirley Calahan Scholarship Fund, the Foundation has donated thousands of dollars to deserving low-income students to assist in paying for their college expenses. Through a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, during the month of May, the Calahan Foundation posts the scholarship opportunities at various locations and on its website. Four scholarships are offered annually.
This year’s scholarship recipients are: Anthony Greer, a graduate of Bronzeville Scholastic Institute, who will attend Missouri University; Tiana Martin, a graduate of Shepherd High School, who will attend Spelman College; Danyelle Monson, a graduate of King College Prep, who will attend Columbia College Chicago and is also the recipient of the 2014 Hadiya Pendleton “Stop the Violence” Scholarship; and Sharidon Rickson, a graduate of Curie High School, who will attend Loyola University.
The Calahan Foundation’s coat and toy drive assist families living in 10 Chicago area shelters. Over the past six years the Foundation has provided thousands of warm coats and toys to children and families in need. Donation boxes are distributed at various locations throughout the city and are collected and sorted by volunteers. The gifts are personalized for the families with age appropriate, non-violent toys provided to the children and warm, new or nearly new coats provided to all family members. Food items are also included in the gift packages.
The Calahan family is excited about the opportunity to provide a helping hand to families in need. “It is a calling to support one another by reaching back, giving back, and pulling forward,” son Edric Calahan said. “Our pledge is that no child with a work ethic and desire to succeed should fail.”