Welcome to the Cara Un-Gala

Our party with a purpose may be canceled, but the celebration continues!

Celebrating the spirit of community and friendship!

Thank you for joining us for our first-ever Cara Un-Gala. Your presence is a beautiful reminder of the community we have at Cara. Each day, we will share videos, stories, and testimonials honoring our community and the powerful transformations that come from it. We will honor people like our Jesse Teverbaugh Distinguished Alumni Award winner, Philile Mabuza; our Trailblazer Award recipients, Jim and Kay Mabie; and our dear-departed founder, Tom Owens. We hope you enjoy this virtual celebration of community, and if you feel moved by this mission, please consider making a gift of any amount to continue our work to transform lives through the power of a job. Thank you!

Make a Gift to Support Our Community

Thank you for making a gift to Cara. Your support goes to work to ensure each Cara participant can too. We greatly appreciate a gift of any amount to support our mission during these uncertain times. Your donation will:

  • Provide hope, personal and professional training, and resources to our motivated job seekers
  • Help families and communities rise above intergenerational poverty
  • Keep our participants on their pathway out of poverty towards a brighter future

Our Program

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In Memoriam
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In Memoriam

For Tom

On September 29, 2019, we lost a friend, a father, and a founder in Tom Owens. In this video, Cara staff, supporters, and alumni share their thoughts on Tom and the legacy he leaves behind.

Cara Un-Gala Welcome

Our Un-Gala hosts and friends Amy and Pete Kadens welcome everyone to our first-ever Cara Un-Gala and give a sneak peek of what we have in store!

Philile’s Story

Cara’s 2020 Jesse Teverbaugh Distinguished Alumni Award honoree Philile Mabuza shares her story of having to flee her native country to save her and her children’s lives, the difficulties of acclimating to a new world, and the community she found at Cara.

Un-Gala Remarks from our President & CEO, Maria Kim

Maria Kim shares an update on the Cara community, reveals why it is built for a moment like this, and how we can rethink and redefine the core concept of social distancing.

Jim & Kay Mabie – 2020 Trailblazer Award Honorees

Leaders from a number of organizations share why our 2020 Trailblazer Award honorees, Jim and Kay Mabie, go beyond being philanthropists – they are true friends.

The Orchid Story

How does an orchid become a symbol of community? Cara President & CEO Maria Kim shares the story of an orchid at our main offices that was brought back from the brink…and the powerful meaning behind it.

Thank You to Our Gala Sponsors

Presenting Sponsors

Jobs Sponsors

Opportunity Sponsors

Our Un-Gala Ad Book

  • Judy Pollock Cara Volunteer
    As a Cara volunteer, I encourage and support participants stepping forward into the world of work. My favorite anecdote is the first time I visited Cara as a guest at Motivations. The upbeat energy, structure with acceptance, and freedom grabbed me totally. Years later, I am lifted up the minute I walk in the door until I leave humble and grateful.
  • Randy Roach Cara Volunteer
    Cara has given me so much more than I could ever give back. The wonderful people I have met at Cara enrich my life immensely. In 2018, I was truly honored and humbled to be the recipient of the Thomas M. Owens Mission Award. And I know the great light, vision, spirit, and passion of this phenomenal man will forever inspire me.
  • Mollie Dougherty Stand Together Foundation
    Our friend Cara has taught us so much about what it means to come alongside members of our community, not just to find a job, but to unlock their full potential. It is a true joy working with Cara and we are a better philanthropic community because they are a part of it.
  • Christy Uchida The Brinson Foundation
    I love thinking about how the folks who stand in the middle of the Motivations circle, along with those who cheer them on, develop workplace competencies at Cara that lead to meaningful employment and sustained careers.
  • Pat Stamper Cara Volunteer
    Cara showed me how anyone can be at a point in their life where they need help to unlock their power, and the bounce of a new beginning felt when one person’s power is finally in effect!
  • Cordelia Seidel Associate Board President
    I remember my first Motivations, sitting there feeling like I had finally found my purpose, and an organization that I wanted to dedicate much of my life and time to. I remember crying, singing, laughing, all in a 30-minute time frame and knowing a whole new meaning of the word: community.
  • April Knox Cara Alum
    Cara genuinely and continuously celebrates me and reminds me of who I am – a creative, positive, and energetic being with a wonderful life ahead! Thank you Cara for being my FRIEND!
  • Corneisha Fowler Cara Alum
    Being a part of the Cara community to me means that I am a part of something amazing. It means that I am locked in with a network that won’t let me fail.
  • Emmett Hasey Cara Alum
    Cara has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Since Cara, I have the support needed to become a successful member of society again. Everyone is there to truly help someone.
  • Andrea Marinho Cara Alum
    Cara is the lighthouse that assists job seekers to overcome challenges and adversity. To this day, the light of Cara still shines upon me with the friends that have walked with me for years.
  • Rita Balzotti Career Advancement & Alumni Manager
    My favorite part of working with Cara participants is the constant reminder of the resiliency of the human spirit. It’s a beautiful moment when you see an individual remember who they truly are as they step into their power.
  • Danny Scott Former Associate Board President
    To me, community is at the very core of everything that Cara does. It’s not about what we can do independently, but what we can do together. Everyone needs a hand up sometimes, and in our Cara community, we are always willing to lift a friend up!
  • Elaine Ross Manager of Placement Services
    The Cara Community is my pride and joy, from staff to participants to our incredible employment partners. To have the opportunity to connect such great talent to such incredible companies is truly an honor and is something I will continue to cherish. Everyone should want to be a part of this magical community!
  • Pat Murray Cara Business Development Director
    One of my favorite Cara memories was when the Placement Team toured the Kronos Foods plant. We were all dressed alike in white coveralls and yellow hard hats. I felt like a proud member of The Avengers. But the true superhero was participant Glenda Griffin, who was expertly operating her position on their gyro meat line. It was beautiful to see her confidence and independence.
  • JaShawn Hill Cara Alum
    Cara is an ongoing sense of belonging and inclusion. I felt so ostracized when I left the world of addiction and homelessness. To come to Cara and find such genuine people and support…support that didn’t feel like charity, but felt like family!
  • Jenne Myers CEO at Chicago Cares
    It is refreshing to have such alignment around values, and I hope Chicago Cares can forge an even deeper partnership with Cara. We look forward to possible training opportunities with Cara’s team to learn practices for being a more trauma-informed workplace.
  • Chris Ryan Executive Council Member
    I knew that I was going to join the Cara family as an Executive Council member from the moment I walked into Motivations. It blew me away to see people be so supportive, real, creative, and pragmatic. After standing up to introduce myself, I sat back down and couldn’t stop smiling. Since then, I’ve never doubted for a second that I would be a lifelong friend to Cara.
  • Donzell Winfield Cara Alum
    I am happy to help Cara participants find jobs; it feels good to be able to give back. Graduating from Cara saved my life, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.