Nonprofit Serving People with Developmental Disabilities Presented Award to Supporters at April 29 Gala, Most Successful in Agency’s History

Chicago, IL –  Esperanza Community Services, a West Town-based nonprofit that helps children and adults with developmental disabilities build skills and independence, honored Marcus Lemonis (from CNBC series The Profit) and Beth Levine at Esperanza’s Celebrating Victories Gala on Friday, April 29 at the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel.  The organization presented Lemonis and Levine with the Bobby Reyes Tribute Award, named after the son of Esperanza founder Guadalupe Reyes, in recognition of their support.  The gala  featured a menu prepared by Blackstone executive chef Aaron McKay, a pop-up gallery featuring pieces by Esperanza artists called Happy and Good: Get to Know Friendly People, auction items including Caribbean and California getaways, and the Sweet Victories afterparty and dessert tasting. The evening raised $150,000 for the organization’s programs, and was the most successful fundraiser in the organization’s 47-year history.

Last fall, Lemonis, often referred to as the business turnaround king, partnered with CharityBuzz to auction A Day and A Dinner with Marcus, a package that allowed the winning bidder to meet the star of The Profit at their business anywhere in the U.S. and receive Lemonis’ feedback on the company’s strategy, goals and future initiatives. And visitors to can purchase a T-shirt, the net proceeds of which benefit Esperanza, that read “I Am 100% in Charge” (a phrase Lemonis uses on The Profit).  “When I visited Esperanza, the team and the community left a lasting impact on me. They are doing great work for people with developmental disabilities who come from low-income families and need our support,” Lemonis said.

Beth Levine, a human resources consultant who has worked with Blue Cross, Hewitt Associates, Kraft Foods and Waste Management, and is currently involved with the  Lemonis Bridge Program at the Joffrey Ballet,  agrees. “When we first encountered Esperanza through the participants’ artwork, we were impressed by the creativity and talent we saw,” said Levine.  “And after getting to know the organization, it became clear that Esperanza is doing absolutely critical work for a vulnerable population that truly needs it.”

Esperanza has also found a partner in the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel for the Celebrating Victories Gala. Kristen Lindgren, Blackstone’s director of sales and marketing, and executive chef Aaron McKay both volunteer with Esperanza as board directors.  “Chef Aaron and I both agree this is such a great organization,” said Lindgren. “Our field of hospitality is all about people, and when you walk in the door of Esperanza that’s the first thing you notice is the people.  Everyone from the employees to the participants have warm and inviting smiles, they immediately make you feel like family and that connection stays long after you leave.  Esperanza is an lifeline for most of these participants and on behalf of the hotel, myself and Chef Aaron, we are honored to be a part of an event that will ensure Esperanza’s continued success.”

“Marcus and Beth have been so supportive, and we are incredibly grateful to them,” said Joy Decker, Executive Director. “We can’t thank them enough for their support and for all they have done to raise the profile of Esperanza as well as the community of people who live with developmental disabilities.”  Esperanza Community Services supports children and adults with developmental disabilities to grow academics and life skills while building friendships. Their programs include a therapeutic day school for students with autism and other diagnoses, a day program that supports adults to hone daily living and community integration skills, an arts program, residential housing, and more. For more than 47 years, Esperanza has been an anchor for the families they serve. More information is at and at 312.243.6097 x 131.