West Cook YMCA


2015 Annual Gala a Smashing Success

Published 11.22.15

From left Flavio Fernandez, Reina Fernandez, Cathy Pruger, and Viki Diana talk during the reception. From left Flavio Fernandez, Reina Fernandez, Cathy Pruger, and Viki Diana talk during the reception.

2015 Annual Gala A Smashing Success

Friends of the West Cook YMCA were not deterred by the area’s biggest November snowstorm in 120 years to make the Y’s annual Gala a smashing success.

The crowd of 170 who attended the Gala at the Oak Park Country Club on Saturday, November 21, raised a record $77,000 in scholarships so financially challenged persons will benefit from scores of the Y’s health and fitness programs in the coming year.

The celebration of “spirit, mind and body,” was led by co-chairs Catherine Pruger, Senior Vice President of Forest Park National Bank & Trust Co. and a West Cook YMCA board member and Joseph Locke, a former board member and principal of Joseph J. Locke & Company Ltd.

From left, Jim Lencioni, Oak Park Village President Anan Abu-Taleb and Phillip Jiminez during the reception. From left, Jim Lencioni, Oak Park Village President Anan Abu-Taleb and Phillip Jimenez during the reception.

Among Gala guests were Anan Abu-Taleb, Mayor of the Village of Oak Park, District 200 School Board President Jeff Weissglass, and Representative La Shawn Ford.

An “auction” of eight Special Initiatives to support the Y’s pre-school, residence, wellness and health literacy, after-school, chronic disease prevention, youth basketball and swim lesson programs was led off by a generous gift of $ 10,000. All the funds will be earmarked for scholarships for youth, families and seniors who are hard pressed to pay the full cost of Y programs designed to advance health and fitness.

Speakers included:

Jonathan Lever, Vice President for Health Strategy and Innovation of the YMCA of the USA and a regular 5 a.m. exerciser at the West Cook Y, who made a strong case for the eradication of diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

Keynote Speaker Jonathan Lever, VP of Health Strategy and Innovation for YMCA of the USA.Keynote Speaker Jonathan Lever, VP of Health Strategy and Innovation for YMCA of the USA.

Patrick Maloney, CEO of Westlake Hospital and Medical Center, who accepted the Scott Gaalaas YMCA Partnership Award, named in honor of the late West Cook YMCA CEO who championed strong relationships with community organizations. Click here for more on the partnership between Westlake Hospital and the West Cook YMCA.

Patrick shared an excerpt of a very moving letter of gratitude from a middle-age resident of the community who said her life was saved by participation in a free Westlake/ West Cook YMCA health screening. In a follow up contact by the HCI team he learned that his blood sugar level was eight times normal and subsequently has made lifestyle changes to restore his health.

A West Cook Y Member who is now the legal guardian of two young Y Scholarship recipients, who provided a Mission Moment Testimonial, shared the story of how she came to befriend and eventually house two children in her neighborhood who needed parental support. She applied and was awarded scholarships for the two girls to participate in the Y’s preschool, Y-Kids After-School Program, TOPS and Swim Lessons.

Scott Galas YMCA Partnership Award winner Patrick Maloney, CEO of Westlake Hospital, with Dr. Marta Alvarado.Scott Gaalaas YMCA Partnership Award winner Patrick Maloney, CEO of Westlake Hospital, with Dr. Marta Alvarado.

Phillip Jiménez, West Cook YMCA President & CEO, recounted for Gala attendees his first eighteen months at the Y which he said has been built on focusing on the end goals and combining the strengths of a team.

Phillip cited such projects as:
- the new Diabetes Prevention Program that kicks off next month
- the Workplace Wellness Program
- a new partnership with Concordia University’s Center for Gerontology funded by the Kott Gerontology Foundation
- an expanded relationship with the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Dominican University to provide surplus nourishing evening meals to West Cook Y residents who are Housing Forward participants.

Jim Marshall, former Y board member, is recognized and congratulated by Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford.Jim Marshall, former Y board member, is recognized and congratulated by Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford.

He reported that a new program is underway to address unmet Youth Development needs.

“We’re engaged in a listening tour talking with school district leaders in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park to learn how we can best be helpful to young people in schools to address their social, emotional and cognitive development, particularly in the STEM areas of the curriculum,” he said.

“Stay tuned, there’s much more to come on this Youth Development initiative,” Phillip said. 

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