We believe in the strength of our city, the self-reliance of homebuyers, and the power of a stable home. Last month, over 200 individuals came together to reflect on and invest in these core beliefs at our sixth annual Benefit Breakfast.


Our Benefit Breakfast brings Chicagoans together to learn more about the Habitat Chicago mission and the ways in which we make a long-lasting impact for families and communities. By bringing these people together and giving them the opportunity to personally contribute to the success of the city, we hoped to raise $189,000 during this two hour event. We are so incredibly excited to say that thanks to the generosity of such incredible supporters, aided by the powerful testimonies of our event speakers, we were able to raise $229,000.


We are immensely grateful to the Chicagoans who made the choice to invest in their neighbors and to the sponsors who made the event possible: Elite Staffing, Eagle Tool Company, Ropes & Gray, Sidley Austin, Chicago Association of Realtors Foundation, Cam Avery and Lynn Donaldson, and Rita and Herbert Rubin.


If we missed you at the Breakfast, here are a few highlights from our speakers:

Jeff Jozwiak, Master of Ceremonies

Jeff Jozwiak, Founder and Principal of Norcon, Inc. and member of Habitat Chicago’s Board of Directors, set the tone as the master of ceremonies. Jeff started the morning by sharing the personal significance of Norcon’s relationship with Habitat: “It is a privilege to serve the community and foster a sense of social responsibility among our employees.” In collaboration with its business partners, Norcon is sponsoring the complete construction of a new Habitat Chicago home and providing employees with the opportunity to volunteer and help build that home.


Matt Forte, Keynote Speaker

Matt Forte, former running back of the Chicago Bears and founder of the What’s Your Forte Foundation, gave the keynote address, explaining what true strength means to him. While Matt demonstrated great physical strength throughout his remarkable NFL career, he stated that true strength “lies in what one does for others.” Matt encouraged the audience to continue their commitment to Habitat Chicago:

“Keep building. Keep swinging those hammers. Keep bringing people together. Continue to be a resource for those who want to strengthen Chicago and see all of our neighborhoods thrive.”


Jennifer Parks, Executive Address

Habitat Chicago’s Executive Director, Jen Parks, spoke to the value of housing stability. Having spent her career with Habitat for Humanity, Jen has a profoundly unique understanding of the urgent need for housing affordability both in Chicago and across the United States:

“Three out of four low-income households in the United States commit more than 50% of their income to having a home. Our work here at Habitat is to remove the barriers to opportunity, success, and health that for generations have prevented families and communities from thriving. Better, affordable living conditions lead to improved health, stronger childhood development, and the financial flexibility to make forward-looking choices.”

Jen then delved into Habitat Chicago’s on-the-ground work and long-term vision. She spoke about the construction of 46 new, affordable, energy-efficient homes in West Pullman and the launch of our Neighborhood Grants and Home Care Initiatives, two distinct programs that will unify neighbors, encourage leadership, and equip residents with the tools needed to enhance their homes and stabilize their communities.

“When we add all this work together, not only can we imagine stability; together, we can build it. As Chicagoans, our neighbors deserve the stability that an affordable home and a healthy neighborhood deliver.”


Shelonda, Homeowner Reflection

Habitat Chicago homeowner, Shelonda, related her personal experience with housing instability and the self-reliance her family now has as a result of owning an affordable home. Shelonda’s family twice faced no-cause evictions, giving them little time to figure out where they would live and causing Shelonda “devastating” worry:

“During this difficulty in our lives, I was most afraid for my grandmother. I feared that she would have a heart attack and at night, I used to check her to make sure she was ok. After the second eviction, she told me that she did not think that she could do it all again. I said, ’I know.’ I knew that we needed a better life and that it was my responsibly to give us that life. I prayed for a life in which we had our own home and knew that if this prayer came into fruition, we would never be evicted again. My prayer was answered because God led me to Habitat for Humanity, I applied to the program, and was accepted.”

Now Shelonda is “filled with warmth, happiness, and peace.” She can now dream of, and plan for, the future:

“Homeownership eliminates the burden of worrying about where my family and I will live and allows me to focus on achieving other goals such as writing, furthering my education, and dedicating myself to nonprofit organizations because they are vital to our society. I want to give back and pay back what was so gracefully given to my family and me. I want to also own a business in the community. I envision that my son will own our home some day and that it will be in our family for generations upon generations.”


You can view the event photos on our Facebook page, captured by Mysi Ann Grubbe of Soda Fountain Photography. And if you’re feeling inspired, consider a donation to help more families know the strength, stability, and self-reliance of affordable homeownership with Habitat Chicago.



Sign up for our newsletter for the latest news and opportunities to get involved!