Family Focus Evanston honors community members, departing director in annual benefit


Daily file photo by Julia Esparaza

Family Focus Evanston is considered an Illinois Welcoming Center, supplying resources and services for immigrants and refugees.

Alex Harrison, Reporter

Family Focus Evanston honored residents and organizations during its annual benefit event Thursday.

The event, themed “Evanston’s Black Heroes,” featured students from Family Focus’s after-school program who performed biographies of prominent Black Evanston residents from both the past and present. 

Family Focus President and CEO Dara Munson said she is proud of the role that the organization plays in supporting Evanston’s Black community. Its Evanston center has operated out of 2010 Dewey Ave. for over 40 years, serving as a central point of resources and programming for the 5th Ward. Family Focus has since expanded, adding six other centers across the Chicago area.

“Even before taking the helm of Family Focus, I came to appreciate, and more importantly admire, the love that this special place holds in the Evanston community,” Munson said. “It is clearly a hub of historical Evanston, and a place where so many organizations call home, and where we come together to support this dynamic community.”

Tim Rhoze, the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s artistic director, presented “Make a Difference” Awards to residents and organizations for their work in the community during the last year. Recipients included Chef Q. Ibrahim, the King and Glew families, the Unitarian Church of Evanston and The Giving Storeroom.

Family Focus also wished farewell to retiring Center Director Colette Allen. Allen first joined Family Focus Evanston in 2015, and has coordinated the center’s resources and programming in the six years since.

While she is sad to be departing, Allen said she’s excited to see the organization’s growth in the years to come, and promised she would stay involved after her retirement as director.

“I have no doubt that this team, the board and the community we serve are in good hands,” Allen said. “This is not farewell. This is, ‘I’ll see you in a month or two after I rejuvenate.’ I could never leave the organization I have grown to love over the past six years.”

The event ended with a message from Bernice Weissbourd, the founder of Family Focus. Weissbourd reflected on the organization’s success throughout the pandemic, and expressed optimism for the future.

“It’s just so meaningful for all of us to be together now, because the work we’ve done is very important,” Weissbourd said. “And it’s just the first step, there is so much more to do.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @alexhairysun

Related Stories:

Residents urge aldermen to preserve historic Family Focus building

Aldermen discuss issuing bonds to more nonprofits

Evanston Organizes: Family Focus provides long-standing sense of community in 5th Ward