Over 300 people attended the Chessmen Club of the North Shore’s 58th Annual Community Service Recognition and Benefit Gala, held March 19 at the Hilton Orrington Evanston Hotel. The sold out event honored Evanston residents Michael Sutton, youth advocate; and Katherine Bridges, Leona Harmon, Elsie Liddell and Theola Murphy for their work with the NAACP. The black-tie gala raised over $100,000 which will be invested in the community in various charitable ways.
“Thank you to everyone who supported this year’s gala,” said Adrian Brewington, Chessmen president. “Through the generosity of our members and friends, the Chessmen can continue to provide needed services to the community.”
The gala is the Chessmen’s largest annual fundraiser. Money raised goes toward scholarships for local students of color, holiday food baskets for local families and supports other community youth activities, such as the Fellowship of Afro-American Men youth basketball league (FAAM). The gala also serves to honor local residents who make an exceptional contribution to the Black community.
Michael Sutton was one of this year’s honorees. A civil engineering graduate of Northwestern University, Mr. Sutton is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Infrastructure Engineering, Inc. and has a strong history of philanthropic endeavors. Locally, is a key supporter for the ETHS National Society of Black Engineers Jr. Chapter, contributing financially and as a career speaker. He also provides intern-ships to two of the Chapter’s students every year. He is a regular contributor to the annual Christmas HOPE Toy Giveaway, an event for the economically challenged children of the Evanston and Chicago areas. Mr. Sutton is a founding member of the Universal Agape Foundation which provides programs and events for economically challenged children and their families. He is also supports the National Urban League, National Action Network and the NAACP among others.
Katherine Bridges, Leona Harmon, Elsie Liddell and Theola Murphy were honored for having been supporters and freedom fighters with the Evanston branch of the NAACP for decades. Each has or continues to serve on the NAACP’s Executive Committee. Working as election judges and voter registrars, these NAACP leaders have helped community members exercise their right to vote. Each of the women received the organization’s President’s Award and all have been active participant at NAACP Branch meetings, and strive to keep the organization on track by asking challenging and thought-provoking questions of its members. These respected seniors are also dedicated fundraisers for the Branch.
The gala also recognized student honorees. Ryan Foreman and Aerin Mitchell.