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Selected and nominated charities

Meeting: July 20, 2020

Thank you for giving!  

This was our ninth meeting and first one on Zoom!  We had a great turnout and thank everyone for attending and giving so generously to both of our selected charities.  Our members donated a total of $10,260! The Antioch Traveling Closet (ATC) received a total of $4,825 from 54 members. The other selected charity, Ryan Banks Academy (RBA),  received $4,835 from 52 members.  Due to your generosity, we've donated $66,852 in total to date.  


In addition to your financial support, for this meeting, you donated amazing amounts of food and toiletries (going to the Antioch Traveling Closet), school supplies (being split between the ATC and the RBA), and pet food and supplies (being split between two previous charities -- Pets for U.S. Heroes and Our House of Hope.  We cannot thank our members enough for their willingness to give and give.  

Selected Charity: Antioch Traveling Closet

Nominated by Lisa Fisher

The mission of the Antioch Traveling Closet is to make sure no adult, or senior citizen is without basic items that we sometimes take for granted.

Our long term vision is a community where everyone’s basic needs are met. To accomplish this in the short term we try to provide basic items to a needy population. To effect long-term community improvement, we work to increase awareness of the issues facing vulnerable populations.

Items as simple as a toothbrush and toothpaste are a blessing for some families.

The ATC collects donated items from the community such as new or very gently used clothing, shoes, winter jackets, boots, hats, gloves, books and toiletries. We also collect school and cleaning supplies. These items are then distributed, free of charge, at giveaway drives held thrice annually.

These giveaways are held at the Antioch Senior Center in Antioch, Illinois. On a first-come, first-served basis, the residents of our community can come and “shop” for whatever items they are in need of—completely free-of-charge.


Karen Berkowsky and Sandy Wagman delivering pet food donations!  

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Lisa Fisher, Founder

Antioch Traveling Closet

Selected Charity: Ryan Banks Academy

Nominated by Cathy Anderson


Video: Ryan Banks Academy

The Ryan Banks Academy is named after Niazi “Ryan” Banks, a happy-go-lucky and enthusiastic 12-year-old boy who was full of life, always curious and loved to make others laugh. He was one of the happiest seventh graders to ever walk the hallways of New Sullivan Elementary School, on Chicago’s far-east side. Tragically, on May 19, 2012, Niazi “Ryan” Banks was shot and killed by gun fire. Ryan was a very special child who had the entire world ahead of him.


Years later, Ryan’s social worker Valerie Groth wanted desperately to build a community of learners who might be insulated from the violence Ryan faced, while providing a 24/7 stimulating and rigorous academic environment. Thus, the vision of Ryan Banks Academy was born to serve those students.

Ryan Banks Academy opened its doors in September 2018 and is currently operating as a day school with the goal of soon becoming Chicago’s first urban and tuition-free boarding school. RBA propels students from all socioeconomic backgrounds into the next generation of leaders, thinkers and world-changers. Agile, learning-based and committed, RBA meets students and families where they are with the investment required to help each student thrive.

The school's mission is to  transform urban education by cultivating the talents and potential of at-risk students in Chicago through an immersive and innovative educational experience. Every student in Chicago should have access to a stable and safe educational environment where they can flourish.


Valerie Groth receiving our donations.  There's a smile behind that mask! 

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