2023 Literary Event: A Tremendous Success!

From Left to Right: GECRC Executive Director Leah Harding, GECRC Board President Celia Rodee, 'Bomb Shelter' author Mary Laura Philpott and Literary Event Committee Chair Janis Pfister

Thank You Donors, for Making This Night Possible!

Oh what a night! Our sold out Literary Event featuring acclaimed author Mary Laura Philpott was a great success, raising $27,000 for our after-school and summer programs! More than 160 attendees listened to Mary Laura’s remarks on her award-winning memoir ‘Bomb Shelter,’ which was released in paperback format in early April. We are so grateful to Mary Laura for traveling to Glen Ellyn to share her insightful wit and wisdom with us!

We would like to thank The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn for their partnership in making this event possible. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading ‘Bomb Shelter’ yet, you can purchase a copy from The Bookstore. Special thanks to the Glen Ellyn Public Library for their support, as well.

Thank you so much to all of our generous sponsors, including Event Level sponsors Marcel’s Culinary Experience and Kiwanis of Glen Ellyn. For a complete list of sponsors, raffle and silent auction donors, please see the "Thank You, GECRC Community" list below.

Program Highlights

Lincoln students explored "creativity" as the "strength of the week" in February as part of

The Character Effect curriculum. "The strength of Creativity means: I can think of lots of ways to solve problems and use my imagination."

Students created art on both paper and on the computer, with lots of giggles and smiles in the process. According to The Character Effect, "Your strength of Creativity inspires you to experiment, wander, and invent. It helps you come up with new ways of self-expression and problem-solving."

The Character Effect curriculum is a social emotional learning program that allows staff and students to recognize character strengths in themselves and others. It has been rolled out at the Lincoln, Churchill and Glen Crest sites.

The Character Effect has increased our students' emotional IQ throughout the year," says Lisa Hepner, Director of Program and Volunteers. "It has been rewarding to see the students learn multiple character strengths throughout the year and be able to spot these strengths in themselves and others."

Field Trips and Fun Visits

Churchill and Lincoln students enjoyed a special field trip to Hadley Junior High to see the dress rehearsal performance of the Hadley musical 'Back to the '80s.' The students had an amazing time watching all of the talented actors perform! We may have even snapped a photo of them dancing along during the curtain call!

(see above)

Local dog celebrity "Bizzy" and her owner Mike from ORKIN paid a visit to the Lincoln program in April. Bizzy and Mike first visited in fall of 2021 to demonstrate how Bizzy helps Mike do his work to detect odors and sniff out bugs in a building. The visit was such a hit, they were asked to come back this spring. Bizzy is not only an excellent working dog but is also very friendly and comfortable around children! Thank you to Mike and Bizzy for stopping by GECRC, and for keeping the buildings of D41 bug-free!

The third graders at Churchill started a weekly class this month with Nancy Reppe, the DuPage County 4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator.

They learned about the plant cycle and received materials to start their own garden at home. Thank you to Nancy for your time and knowledge!

Paging Student Doctors!

Churchill students got the unique and incredible opportunity to run a “mock operating room” with help from Esperanza “Ranzi” Wilson, assistant professor and program chair for the surgical assistant program at the College of DuPage.

Thank you to Professor Wilson for sharing this amazing experience with our students!

Camera Ready

Many thanks to Tim Arroyo, Chicago-based award winning photographer and assistant professor of photography at College of DuPage, for speaking to our Churchill students.

“The best camera to use is the one you have with you,” Professor Arroyo told the students. He also described how “photography is painting with light."

Professor Arroyo shared a variety of photos from retouched work and portraits, to landscapes and commercial work. The students really enjoyed his talk and learning about something new!

Volunteer Spotlight

Our February volunteer of the month is Hadley volunteer Dylan Gasaway!

Dylan is a junior at Glenbard West. He has been tutoring with GECRC since the 2022 summer program. He worked with second graders that summer and now works with 6th and 7th grade students at Hadley.

“The time I spend with the kids at GECRC is often one of the highlights of my week,” Dylan says. “It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help these students through whatever it is they are working on.”

One student Dylan tutors often struggles with turning in his homework assignments. “I've been working with him to overcome this challenge,” Dylan says. “As someone who also struggled with missing assignments in middle school, I am able to relate to this student and provide him with effective strategies for completing his work. Through our sessions together, I've helped him to become a more productive student. It's been gratifying to see his progress and know that I'm making a positive impact on his academic success.”

Thank you, Dylan, for sharing your time and talents with our students!!

Our March volunteer of the month is Lincoln volunteer James McKinnon!

James is a junior at Glenbard West. He has been tutoring with GECRC for about two years.

“For me the most gratifying part of tutoring at GECRC is the personal connections I make with the students,” James says. “I enjoy getting to know them, playing games with them, and hearing about their day.”

James says he strives to be a mentor to the students he tutors.

“I try to set a good example for them and answer any questions they have,” he says. “I had the same student most of my first year of tutoring. One thing I remember about him is that he loved to ask random questions about me, so much so that I had to use his love for questions to bribe him to finish his homework.”

In his free time, James is involved with tennis, band and Key Club at Glenbard West.

Thank you, James, for sharing your contagious energy with our students!!

Board Members Get Involved

Our Newest Board Member

Please join GECRC in welcoming Evelyn Rodriguez to its Board of Directors!

Evelyn has more than 35 years of banking experience, 24 of which she has spent in a leadership role. She is passionate about helping others reach their financial and career goals, and is active within her community. Evelyn believes in banking as being the business of building and deepening relationships, and finding ways to make our communities stronger. She was a professional advisor for DePaul University as well as a mentor for Chicago Public Schools. Evelyn is a certified Spanish interpreter in the legal, medical and educational fields. She currently serves on the board of the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce and The Outreach House in Lombard. Evelyn is a published co-author of Today’s Inspired Latina, Volume 8.

She has already jumped right in to volunteer at Churchill along with her daughter Mia. Welcome, Evelyn!

Monthly Visits From Penny

GECRC Board member Penny Linneweh continued with her monthly visits to Churchill with a stack of kindly donated copies of Margret and H.A. Rey's ‘Curious George and the Puppies’ from SCARCE. Penny read the book to the students, and was able to gift each one with their own copy. Thank you to SCARCE for the donations, and to Penny for her time and generosity! The students so look forward to these monthly visits!

Pie For All!

Around Thanksgiving time, a student told Volunteer Coordinator Maryam Ghouse that he had "never tried a piece of pie." When GECRC Board President and gourmet pie chef extraordinaire (among her many other talents!) Celia Rodee heard about this, she decided she needed to bring him (and all of the other Lincoln students) a piece of pie on "Pi Day," 3.14. She did just that, and imagine her surprise to find out that not only this student, but every student pictured in this photo were sampling their very first pieces of pie! As Celia likes to say, "the world needs more pie," and at GECRC we are doing our small part to make that happen.

Congratulations to our Pi Day winner Karen Anderson Lisook (Facebook social media drawing)! Karen won fresh homemade apple pie direct from GECRC Board President Celia Rodee’s kitchen.

An additional Congratulations to Pi Day Winner Laura Hollinger Antonelli (Instagram social media drawing)! Laura also won her own homemade apple pie from Celia Rodee's kitchen.

Community Partners and Awareness

Visit www.glenellynkiwanis.org to order your flowers and onions today!

The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn sold 120 "Blind Date" books for a combined donation of $1200 to the GECRC. For a $10 donation, shoppers received a gift-wrapped book that was to be their "blind date." It is an annual Valentines Day themed promotion for the Bookstore, and we are so honored that they support GECRC in such a creative and generous way!

We are grateful to Crossfit Carol Stream and our very own Director of Program and Volunteers Lisa Hepner for hosting a Crossfit fundraising event for GECRC this past March! There were about 20 participants getting strong and sweaty to benefit GECRC! Thank you to all who attended!

Congratulations to one of GECRC’s founders and past Board President John Mulherin for winning the Senior Citizen of the Year Award at the 2023 Glen Ellyn Community Awards! So well deserved!! (photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Glen Ellyn, of which John is a member.)

Thank You, GECRC Community!

Thank you to the following organizations who recently donated to support our four after-school programs, either financially or through in-kind donations. We are very appreciative of your support of GECRC!


Kiwanis Club of Glen Ellyn

Ball Foundation

Glen Ellyn Bank & Trust

Tricia Black, Compass Real Estate

Marvelous Minds

Amy Storm & Co

The Bookstore of Glen Ellyn

Carrie & Renee Group, Compass Real Estate

Northwestern Medicine

Mindful Movements

TKS Design Group (The Kitchen Studio)

Sue Kowalski

Casey's Gas Station

Alicia Parker, Coldwell Banker Properties

Sarah Coe Designs

BP Gas Station

Dairy Queen

Blackberry Market

Theresa Hiser

Anne Gould

Papier Girl

Sign of the Whale Antiques

Laubinger & Associates, LLC

Ellyn and Main

Liza Diaz

Doug and Andrea Head

Jessica Powell

Jeremy Lagomarsino

A La Main

Andrew's Garden

Brookfield Zoo

Costello Jewelry

Crossfit Carol Stream

Drake Hotel

DuPage Children's Museum

Forest Preserve/Cook County Golf Club

Erik Peterson

Fire & Wine


Gather & Collect

Glen Ellyn Police Department

Ursula Bryant

Good Roots

Goodman Theatre

Hairborn Salon

Health Track Sports Wellness

Hi, Love

Ko-Ze Wine


Learning Express

M& Em's

Maize and Mash

Marci Myers


McAnnich Arts Center

Paramount Theatre

Park and Oak


Evelyn Rodriguez

The Sweet Shoppe

String Theory

Two Hound Red

Village Links

Catherine Voight


Angela Fanella

Gayle Rueter

Get Involved!

Want to Give Back?

Our volunteer tutors are so invaluable to the mission of GECRC. Volunteering is a mutually beneficial experience where volunteers engage with students, staff and their fellow volunteers in meaningful and purpose-driven ways. Some wonderful and long-lasting mentoring relationships develop between tutors and students!

If you or your high school student or perhaps even retired parents or neighbors would be interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, please complete a volunteer application to join us! If you've tutored in the past, please send an email to [email protected]. We are currently seeking volunteers for the GECRC Summer Program which will be held at Churchill Elementary from June 27 - Aug. 3, as well as for the 2023-24 school year.

More Ways to Volunteer

A group of our staff, board members and donors gathered together to represent GECRC and compete in the DuPage Foundation's Next Generation Initiative charity trivia night. If you would like to get more involved in GECRC (and maybe join us in our next trivia night!) please e-mail our development director at [email protected]. Our events (including Literary, Pickle Ball Fundraiser, Rock Around the Block, etc.) all need committee volunteers. Join us!

Donate Today
Volunteer Now
Facebook      Twitter      Instagram

345 Taft Avenue, Suite 205

Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Office: 630 479-9920

Contact Us