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Little City raises $714,000 for people with developmental disabilities

Spectacular Gala honored founding families and raised money for new children’s home

Little City Board Member Eleni Bousis, Little City Executive Director Shawn E. Jeffers and Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner at Little City’s Annual Dinner Gala 2018.

Little City celebrated its history in a big way Saturday as 350 people attended Little City’s Annual Dinner Gala at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago and raised over $714,000 for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The special evening honored Little City’s founding families, who came together in 1959 to start the groundbreaking organization that now serves more than 1,100 people through residential, vocational, educational and adoption services. Attendees at the Gala helped Little City build off its rich past by generously donating to Mario’s Home – the fourth home in the state-of-the-art Duffey Family Children’s Village on Little City’s 56-acre Palatine campus.

Mario’s Home will house eight boys on the autism spectrum and provide the sensory, therapeutic and educational tools needed for each individual to reach their own unique potential. Having opened in 2014, the homes at the Duffey Family Children’s Village have produced incredible results as residents have gone on to find community employment and more independent living situations.

Shawn Jeffers, executive director of Little City, said the Gala was an incredible event that merged Little City’s past and future to make a real difference for those with developmental disabilities.

“It has been a tremendous honor to celebrate the families who had the vision and determination to launch Little City at a time when there was nothing quite like it,” Jeffers said. “To see that history inspire so many people to invest in Little City’s future is amazing to witness. We are so thankful we continue to have so many dedicated supporters year after year.”

The event displayed the diversity of support that has kept Little City strong and growing for nearly 60 years. Mary Carol Grabill shared a powerful personal story about how Little City changed her son’s life for the better, Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner reaffirmed the state’s support for people with developmental disabilities and longtime board members Alex Gianaras and Eleni Bousis expressed the importance of supporting the vulnerable population Little City serves.

In addition to the generous individual support shown by attendees, the Gala featured a premier live and silent auction that helped generate the more than $714,000 raised. The live entertainment by Sarlas Music Orchestra and an exquisite dinner made for an unforgettable night that will help Little City residents, families and participants for years to come.

The event would not have been possible without the support of all the great sponsors including: Presenting Sponsor: George & Dimitra Zervas; Gold Sponsor: Julie Bell; Silver Sponsor: Paramount Staffing; Bronze Sponsors: Eleni & Jimmy Bousis; Linda M. Bell; Cornerstone Research; The Desmond Family; Rit & Meeta Faisal; The Grabill Family; The Gianaras Family; John & Mary Jo George; Jonathan Green & Family; David Pfau; The Rose/Hockfield Families; Vernon Carson/Burt Ury; MB Financial Bank; Mutual of America; Show Sage; Zurich; Entertainment Sponsor: Hockfield & Associates/Steve & Barbara Anderson; Program Sponsor: Daily Herald; Photography Sponsor: Theoharris Family; Media Sponsor: Chicago Magazine.

About Little City
Being a leader for 60 years, Little City continues to be inspirational and transformational in developing its 56-acre therapeutic community in Palatine. From a modest beginning of three homes and 16 residents primarily with Down syndrome, Little City has grown into a recognized leader offering a wide array of innovative services to more than 1,000 clients weekly. In addition to the Palatine location, Little City has a Community Services Office in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, adult service centers in Palatine and Waukegan, and 15 adult community homes and one children’s group home located throughout suburban Cook and DuPage Counties.

Today, Little City’s comprehensive program portfolio includes vocational training and employment placement, foster care and adoption, home-based family support, health and wellness, recreation and therapeutic activities, disability awareness and community education, a day school and an award-winning arts program. Visit www.littlecity.org.


Tina Maraccini, Director of Communications & Marketing
Phone: (847) 221-7855

"There are so many capable and caring staff at Little City, past and present, who have helped Clifford. He has made a lot of progress in mastering his behavior."

Colleen, Mother of a child living in a ChildBridge Group Home