- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On November 28, 2019
- 35th Anniversay, Chicago, chicago metropolitan area, Chicago suburbs, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, DV agency, Housing Programs, non-profit, northwest chicago, WINGS
WINGS CEO Rebecca Darr shares special Thanksgiving message:
In the Spring of 1985…
three church members at St. Marcelline’s Church in Schaumburg, Illinois established a small non-profit to help homeless women and their children.
Louis Tosto, Ed Boggio and Edith Hovious took the giant leap to launch a tiny organization that would grow into the largest domestic violence agency in the state of Illinois. As we approach this milestone, we are proud of so many accomplishments over these 35 years and so grateful for all of the support to achieve great heights.
In the early years, they started with one home.
With help from Lutheran General Hospital, they rented two apartments and then opened a small office in Arlington Heights. In 1994, Ed and Jean McCabe donated a large home doubling the capacity of families that could be served. The small group of staff and Board were very committed to growing the organization and relied heavily on community support.
In 1999, I was extremely grateful to Rita Canning and Susie Bryant…
for giving me the opportunity to join WINGS. Within a few months, we were blessed with another generous donation of a home in Barrington from the Drs. Yeshwant.
The next year, WINGS opened the first resale store with piles and piles of donations. We were able to sell those donations as well as used them to clothe our families and furnish the growing number of WINGS homes and apartments. Over the next 10 years, WINGS opened two more resale stores. Over and over, the generosity of individuals in the community to give their time, talent and treasure allowed WINGS to spread our reach to more families in need.
In 2005, we opened the first and only domestic violence shelter in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
This beautiful building took years of fundraising and zoning hearings. Again, we were blessed with so many friends and people who believed in what we were trying to do. Hundreds of people attended the zoning hearings and signed petitions. Rita and John Canning provided the funding for the land. David and Diane Hill, through their company, Kimball Hill Homes, provided over $800,000 in donated labor and goods for the project and donated the general contracting for the project. Without the collective efforts of so many, the Safe House would not have been possible.
As the Safe House was being completed, homes and apartments were added to provide a continuum of housing for families to establish their independence. In parallel, counseling and children’s services expanded to ensure that each client received comprehensive support to promote healing from the trauma of domestic violence.
All of this growth required more revenue streams and once again, Rita and John Canning stepped in to help. We launched a holiday event in the city, Sweet Home Chicago, while WINGS signature event, the Purple Tie Ball, continued to grow. WINGS increased support with the launch of its first Leadership Council made up of community leaders who are committed to the cause. At that time, we were also very fortunate to meet Pat and Vince Foglia who have become dear friends to WINGS.
In 2013, WINGS was awarded a grant by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to build the first new domestic violence shelter in over 10 years in the city of Chicago.
This project mobilized the Chicago community to greater awareness about the need for safe shelter in the City. Pat and Vince Foglia stepped in with a large gift and the Chicago Bears provided the funding for a beautiful playground for the children. Many foundations, corporations and individuals stepped up to complete this state-of-the-art facility. Once again, Rita and John put their support behind our efforts.
In 2016, WINGS Metro opened its doors on Valentine’s Day. With the help of so many, we increased our capacity to house over 250 women, men and children on any given night. In addition, the counseling and outreach services, reach thousands of individuals each year.
All of these accomplishments have occurred because WINGS has been blessed with thousands of donors and volunteers over these 35 years.
We have always had a strong, committed Board of Directors coupled with the most dedicated and passionate staff members who always go above and beyond. Several members of the staff have been with WINGS for more than 10 years providing consistent and high-quality care to every family who seeks our assistance.
As the leader of this amazing organization for the last 20 years, I have been truly privileged to be surrounded by so many caring and passionate people. On this Thanksgiving holiday, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each and every person who has been behind WINGS on this 35-year journey. Each year, we are able to help thousands of women, men and children transcend domestic violence.
Thank you for helping to give flight to their hopes and dreams!
Chief Executive Officer