UNICEF honors local humanitarians at awards luncheon – Chicago Tribune

The Event: The 450 guests filled every seat at the fifth annual Chicago Humanitarian Awards luncheon held by the Chicago office of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF at the Ritz-Carlton on Oct. 23.

Created to celebrate UNICEF’s work of protecting children around the globe, the event honored two Chicago humanitarians: Barbara Bowman, founder of the Erikson Institute and its Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development; and, Keith Decker of Wilmette, one of the founders of La Casa Norte.

Susan Bissell, Director Ad Interim of the #ENDViolence Partnership at UNICEF, highlighted UNICEF’s work with grassroots organizations and governments around the world to keep children safe and protected. Attendees were also given a first-hand look at UNICEF Kid Power, a new initiative which encourages kids to save lives while getting active through purchases of the organization’s ‘wearable-for-good’ bracelets.

Cause Célèbre: “We get a chance to honor leaders in our community who really embody UNICEF’s commitment towards improving the lives of children,” is how Rob Brown of Park Ridge, chairman of the board, described the event.

“The simple truth is that no humanitarian organization on earth has saved more children’s lives than UNICEF,” added Brown, “And no one has done it in as efficient a way as we (have).”

UNICEF’s aid stretches across 190 countries and territories, focusing on health, education, access to clean water, sanitation, child protection and a host of other critical relief efforts. More than 90 percent of the money the organization raises goes into active programs in the field.

Still, Casey Marsh of Chicago, UNICEF Midwest Regional Director stressed: “We can’t do this work alone. We need help, we need volunteers, we need donations.”

Bottom Line: This year’s luncheon raised more than $110,000 for UNICEF’s lifesaving programs that put children first.