CEL throws a feast for Chefs’ Night
President of the board of directors Noel Elfant with board member and gala chairman Lauren Tashma, both of Northbrook. | Lee Litas~For Sun-Times Media
The Center for Enriched Living, 280 Saunders Road, Riverwoods; (847) 948-7001 or centerforenrichedliving.org
Updated: June 20, 2012 9:04PM
The Event: The Center for Enriched Living’s 12th annual Chefs’ Night & More! broke all attendance records when 660 of its volunteers, staff, members and guests arrived at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort on April 30 ready to eat specialties from 35 top restaurants representing the North Shore and Chicago. Some delicacies were even made by CEL members themselves.
Cause Célèbre: The Center for Enriched Living exists so that people with developmental disabilities can be fully assimilated into the community, achieve personal success and enjoy a good quality of life.
Center members include individuals with disabilities ranging from autism and cerebral palsy to physical limitations. CEL has no age limits, serving children through senior citizens, and it has no geographical boundaries.
“The center gives people with developmental disabilities a sense of inclusion into the community and a sense of belonging,” said Noel Elfant, board president.
He noted that most programs, such as those in the public school system, are closed to individuals older than 22.
“When they are no longer permitted to attend the public schools there is a vacuum in their lives without a place like the center, where they can come and meet friends and be integrated into the community,” Elfant said.
While center programming includes skill development and socialization, members are also involved in community service projects, “so they are giving back, and the center gives them that unique opportunity to be able to give back to the community on their own,” said Lauren Tashma, board member and gala chairman.
CEL is a nonprofit, privately funded organization.
“Our members find very strong connections to friends, peers and the community through their participation,” said Harriet Levy, executive director.
Bottom Line: The Chefs’ Night & More! event and car raffle raised more than $502,000 for CEL.