A Message from Lisa Ware, President ILEA Chicago

Joy!  I have sat here enjoying a hot cup of tea for a while thinking about what word best signifies how I feel about the holidays!  Hands down – that word for me is Joy!  It is hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving is this week and December is right around the corner.  It brings me so much joy to go to the Farmer’s Market for Thanksgiving ingredients, make my grocery lists, pick which things I am going to make for Thanksgiving this year and anticipate having so many of my favorite people at my table this year.  I have some extra joy this year because my sister and her family will be coming to Chicago.  Yes, we are all busy around the holidays with events and there is never enough time to get it all done but the overwhelming feeling for me is always Joy! 

If you read my last blog, I briefly mentioned how ILEA Chicago is going to get involved with The Birthday Party Project and this organization brings me such a feeling of joy.  I am hoping that with your help we can bring some joy to some Chicago kids who might not otherwise feel the same joy we do about the holidays.  I recently had a call with Alison Dukes, the new Executive Director of The Birthday Party Project and I was giddy after the call because I know that ILEA Chicago has so much that we can bring to this wonderful organization.  Their entire mission is JOY! You see The Birthday Party Project is an organization that provides birthday parties for kids in homeless shelters who likely have never celebrated a birthday party.  Since I cannot say it better than them – here is a blurb straight from the source – I am hoping that this incites JOY into your heart and inspires you to help. 

              “At The Birthday Party Project, we understand that not every child has a home, but EVERY child has a birthday, and we have the opportunity to add an invaluable positive experience to their circumstance. We allow kids to dream big! Our monthly celebrations are so much more than a party; they are a loud exclamation point that these children matter; that JOY can come out of any circumstance, and a JOYful community can transform our society.”


To date, The Birthday Party Project has thrown over 1,000 parties and celebrated over 5,000 birthdays with over 31,000 kids in attendance!!  We have our first opportunity to support The Birthday Party Project at our holiday party on December 5th at Millennium Park.  We will be collecting gifts at our holiday party for future birthday parties for The Birthday Party Project.  With the number of kiddos they celebrate – there is always a need.  The ideal gift is in the $30 range but anything under $30 is always welcome as they can mix and match things together.  All gifts should be unwrapped.  They are also always in need of party supplies (plastic tablecloths, streamers, large gift bags, tissue paper, paper plates , paper cups, party hats, blowers/noisemakers, birthday banners, napkins, balloons, candles)– we are event people and always have extra things lying around – check your warehouses, storage rooms and bring along any of these items  as well! This collection will start at our holiday party but any gifts or party favors are welcome anytime!  Call me, text me, email me – I will be happy to come pick them up from your warehouse, house or office at any time! ????

In May – ILEA Chicago will be throwing a birthday party for The Birthday Party Project – more on that later but in the mean time – please come join us for a night of JOY and don’t forget to bring a gift or birthday party supplies so we can spread JOY to homeless kids right here in Chicago!  We'll start the evening at the Maggie Daley Park Fieldhouse.  We will then wind through the park, stopping to sing to guests along the way. We will then head to Park Grill for food, drinks, and continued mingling. Special thanks to our sponsors – Maggie Daley Park, Park Grill, Anthony Gowder Designs, Halls Rental, Feast & Imbibe, Colleen Coyne with SLCK Produtions and Drawing Booth! On behalf of everyone on the ILEA Chicago board, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Lisa Ware is Sales Consultant for Food for Thought as well as President of our ILEA Greater Chicago Chapter.  For more information about Lisa, Food for Thought or The Birthday Party Project, please contact Lisa at 847-404-7862 or





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