Enriching the community The College of Lake County gives back

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The College of Lake County (CLC), an accredited college that offers a variety of transfer and career programs, has a long-standing tradition of giving back to its students and the community. One of the platforms for this service is The College of Lake County Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1974, that offers assistance with student scholarships through its Scholarship Awards Program-Academic Achievement, Career, Diversity, English as a Second Language, GED, Honors, Returning to Education and Student Activities. The CLC Foundation also supports groundbreaking faculty and staff endeavors, cultural arts progress and facility needs.

The Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art, a chief cultural resource for local and national artists since 1981, is a venture of the CLC Foundation. Located in the Grayslake campus library, the art gallery is accessible to students and members of the community. The gallery, which comprises of 2,500 square feet of exhibit space and more than 600 art pieces in the permanent collected works, offers complimentary guided gallery tours and educational programs in alliance with its exhibitions-all made possible through the CLC Foundation.

Another example of how CLC enriches the community and helps others in need is the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, an event that strives to eradicate hunger. Every year, students and faculty come together to raise money for the Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB). For a minimum donation of $15, event participants can purchase a one-of-a-kind handmade ceramic bowl and receive a serving of chili and cornbread. This partnership between the ceramics department and the CLC Hospitality and Culinary Management program — the culinary group that prepares and serves the chili and cornbread — proves that when folks work together, others can be helped in a big way. This year, the faculty and students of the ceramics department made more than 1,000 bowls for the event.

“It’s wonderful to have organizations like the College of Lake County to help us raise funds and to help us feed our hungry neighbors,” said Julie Yurko, vice president of philanthropy and communications at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. “They’ve had multiple fundraisers for us over the years and we’re tremendously thankful for everything they’ve done to support our efforts.”

The Empty Bowls fundraiser, said Yurko, really tells the story of hunger and it provides a visual reminder of what so many people are struggling with every day.

“The College of Lake County related the fundraiser to our mission — they tied it back to food, raising awareness of the reality of hunger in Lake County,” said Yurko.

The NIFB provides nourishing meals to more than 60,000 disadvantaged children and adults every week. Annually, the NIFB provides food for over 500,000 people.

“Overall, we’ve been able to donate $30,000 to fight hunger in Lake County,” said Ben Bates, ceramics instructor and organizer for the Empty Bowls fundraiser.

Pat Meehan, a student from Libertyville, attended the event this year. Meehan has been taking ceramics classes at CLC for a year and a half and has attended the Empty Bowls event in the past.

“Coming to the event helped inspire me to start taking classes; it was on my bucket list,” said Meehan. “The fact that the culinary students are involved with the food is very meaningful. I love the idea that we are together and working to make someone else happy.”