Lester N. Coney, Executive Vice President, Mesirow Financial, Zoraida Sambolin, Anchor for NBC-Channel 5, Frances Odem, Senior Advisor, Williams Multiplex, and Louanner Peters, Deputy Governor-Illinois were year’s honorees at the Lightbearer benefit for the Institute for Positive Living’s Open Book Program on May 3, 2007 at Marmon Grand Ballroom, 2230 S. Michigan Ave., in Chicago. The Lightbearer event, themed “Making Dreams Come True,” featured performances by Open Book students and by Open Book performing artists and teachers.
“The Institute for Positive Living's Open Book Program is proud to honor these three outstanding individuals who share the belief that children should be encouraged to enjoy the art of reading,” states Institute for Positive Living President Marrice Coverson. “Our honorees and their respective organizations are among those who support the Open Book Program's efforts to encourage the development of reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.”
The Open Book Program is a multi-faceted after-school program for young adolescents. The Program engages youth in activities that encourage development of their reading, writing and critical thinking skills.
Open Book is currently funded in nine Chicago public schools: Beethoven, Johns Academy, Mayo, McCorkle, Oglesby, Price, White Career Academy, Williams Multiplex, and University of Chicago-Donoghue. In addition Open Book and the Institute of Positive Living has developed a variety of programs for residents of Lawless Gardens.
Co-chairs for this year’s Lightbearer gala are: Rev. Bobby Rush (US Congressman); Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter; Illinois State Representative Ken Dunkin; Illinois State Representative Elga Jeffries; Sandy Benen, Glaxo Smith Klein; Calvin Butler, RR Donnelly; Elzie Higginbottom, Eastlake Management; Paul & Joan Rubschlager, Ruschlager Baking Co.; Timothy Wright, Gonzales, Saggio & Harlan; and David E. Whittaker, Chicago Area Project.
Special thanks for this year’s event go to Dominick’s Shorebank, Chicagoland Foods, Marmon Grand Ballroom, Union beverage Co., D. Williams Public Relations Group, A Work of Art Florist, Soul Deliciious Catering, Artist/Illustrator Jane Spivey Gilchrist, Joyeux Designs, Montgomery Media Enterprises, and gala committee members and volunteers Jarrod Hunter, Janis McReynolds and the entire Institute for Positive Living staff and volunteers.
Past Lightbearer honorees have included: Alderman Shirley E. Coleman, 16th Ward, Former Senate Minority Leader, Emil Jones; David Whittaker, Executive Director, Chicago Area Project; Frank Gihan, Director of Community Relations, Chicago Tribune Charities,. the Church of The Spirit, Daryl Handy, former Director of External Affairs, Ameritech; Elzie Higginbottom, CEO/President, East Lake Management; Ralph Hughes, Regional Director, Marshall Fields State Street; John Clark, President/CEO, Reggio’s Pizza; Wallace E. Goode, City of Chicago’s Empowerment Zone; Susan Levy, R.R. Donnelley and Sons; Doug Mabie, Springboard Foundation; Darryl Newell, President, 100 Black Men of Chicago; Hosea Sanders, ABC-7 Chicago; Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Author and Illustrator; Phillip Nyden, Professor of Sociology and Director of Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University Chicago, Joe Moore, Manager, Community Relations, Shell Oil, Frederick McNeal Jr., Principal of Mayo Elementary School, Merri Dee, Director of Community Relations, WGN-TV, Wynona Redmond, Pubic Relations Manager for Dominick's Finer Foods, State Senator Mattie Hunter, Lee Brown, former Area Instructional Officer for the Chicago Public School System and Tommy Ford, children's book author and actor.
“We are grateful to the many people who continue to make the Lightbearer Benefit a memorable evening,” states Coverson. “As our attendance continues to grow, we thank our friends and supporters, as well as the local media who help us tell our story. Mostly, we thank the youth who participate in the Open Book program, celebrating reading and children’s literacy every day.”