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Chicago based Designs For Dignity holds 4th Annual Spirit Awards Breakfast


There was a great turnout on Tuesday for Chicago based non-profit Designs 4 Dignity’s 4 th annual Spirit Award Breakfast that was hosted by the International Interior Design Association inside the Merchandise Mart. Designs for Dignity was founded on the belief that all individuals should have access to environments that support the wellness of the human spirit. Today, the organization provides pro bono design services from interior designers and architects to nonprofit organizations seeking to transform their physical spaces into healing environments that are more functional for the staff and the populations they serve.

Diane Falanga, the President Emeritus of D4D stated it perfectly at the event when she said “So often it is the people with the most need of our services that have the least amount of access”. Design for Dignity’s mission is to help those very organizations!

After a nice networking breakfast provided by The Chopping Block, the awards ceremony began with D4D Founder and chairman of Fredman Design Group’s Susan Fredman expressing the goals of the organization, appreciation of the volunteers, and appreciation for all of the vendor partners. She made it clear that if it was not for all of these people, “Design for Dignity would not have been able to touch over 640,000 people over the past 15 years!”


There were three honorees at today’s event. Each of these honorees was recognized for their work as ambassadors in the design industry that have given strong support for D4D’s mission and transformational work with the nonprofit community.

2015 Founder’s Award-Given to an individual as the greatest ambassador of the mission of Design for Dignity.

Awarded to – John Crittenden VP Construction, Stone’s Throw Builders, LLC. John was given this award for his countless hours working on the transformation of The Zacharias Center expansion project, as well as the new “Z Center” in Skokie, IL. Mr. Crittennden was humbled by the award and also spoke of how this was his first attempt at “giving back” and how it touched and changed his outlook on such work!

2015 Spirit Award-The Spirit award is given to a member who shows great philanthropic support to D4D.

Awarded to-Tom Kehoe, President of Kehoe Designs. Tom was honored for his tremendous event support over many years, specifically for Design For Dignity’s signature event “Spirit of Design”. In his presentation of the award, current President of Designs for Dignity and CVO of Creative for Life, Hunter Kaiser, made it clear that “without the support of vendors and individuals like Tom, Designs for Dignity would not be able to product effective and profitable events that further our mission.” In his acceptance of the award, Mr. Kehoe was quick to point out the importance of organizations like D4D, and specifically stated that "Design impacts our mindset, from color to type of fabric, it clearly affects our state of being”.

2015 Sustainability Award-Awarded to acknowledge an organization that commits to the repurposing and donating design materials and furnishings.

Awarded to-Herman Miller. The Herman Miller Company was given this award for its design and commitment to creating a reusable program to redeploy products for nonprofits. D4D Executive director Jennifer Sobecki stated that “without the support of showrooms and manufactures like Herman Miller, D4D would not be the organization that it has become to date”.

2015-2016 Grant Recipients

The third part of the Designs for Dignity annual awards breakfast was the announcement of the 2015-2016 Grant Recipients. These organizations went through a grant process as well as site visits to determine their needs and all were very excited to be chosen for this transformation!

The 2015-2016 Grant recipients were:

Aspire Hillside-Aspire makes communities’ better by redefining what is possible for people with developmental disabilities.

The Cara ProgramThe Cara Program(shown on the left)-An organization that cultivates self –sufficient through job training, placement, retention and career advancement services.

Little City-Little City has a vision to be the first choice for the world’s caregivers, donors, families and volunteers to improve the quality of life for both young and old effected by autism and other developmental disabilities.

MCGAW YMCAMCGAW YMCA(shown on the left)-with a history that was 130 years old on the date of the awards ceremony, the MCGAW YMCA looks to strengthen families and communities through youth development, social responsibility and healthy living. President and CEO Glenice Thompson Pittman was overjoyed to be chosen, and stated that he stated he was confident that they “would be partnered with Designs for Dignity for the next 130 years of their existence”!

Project Fierce Chicago - Project fierce Chicago is a grassroots housing initiative aimed at reducing LGBTQ youth homelessness by providing identity-affirming transitional housing the LGBTQ and young people.

Re:New -A nonprofit operating a retail business that provides training and employment for refugee women in DuPage county, Re:New designs and market locally handcrafted handbags and accessory items, creating a space for refugee women to thrive.

YWCA-ELGIN-As part of the Elgin community for 114 years, the YWCA, strengthened by diversity continues to implement opportunities for leadership.

Congratulations to all of the Grant recipients! All of the attendees look forward to seeing the “before and after” pictures of your projects in the next year!

For more information on how to get involved with Designs For Dignity or to learn how your nonprofit can apply for a grant, please visit www.designsfordignity.org.

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