LIFT LOCAL 2013: A Recap

By LIFT on April 17, 2013

Categories: Events, Our Work


LIFT-Chicago’s second annual fundraiser, LIFT LOCAL, drew 400 people to Park West on April 10, 2013 for a night of inspirational stories and a concert by LIFT board member and Grammy Award winning musician, Ben Harper. The event nearly doubled last year’s fundraising efforts, raising $40,000 that night and $230,000 in total.


“The event surpassed my wildest expectations,” LIFT-Chicago Executive Director Ben Reuler exclaimed. “The energy was electric; LIFT-Chicago is no longer the best kept secret in town.”

The program began with a video featuring four LIFT-Chicago clients, who discussed struggles they have faced and how LIFT volunteer advocates helped increase their confidence and assisted with their employment and housing searches.

“I so appreciate that our community members feel so impacted by their LIFT experience that they were willing to share so much of themselves,” said Patience Peabody, LIFT’s Director of Communications. “I believe that it was a chief catalyst that connected those in the room to our work.”

As the program continued, attendees were encouraged to reflect on difficult times in their own lives when they have been “LIFTed” by others. Reuler shared a moving account of the support relatives and friends gave him in his early career when he found himself unemployed and anxious to support his family.

Reuler’s speech was “completely unforgettable,” LIFT CEO and Co-Founder Kirsten Lodal said. “Ben connected his own story to a powerfully universal story of why we all need LIFTing.”

Later in the evening, Ben Harper took the stage for an hour and a half and sang hits like “Diamonds On the Inside” and “My Own Two Hands.” He also brought to the stage his mother and one of his mentors for an impromptu performance. Harper closed the evening by auctioning off a signed guitar.

“Ben Harper is a musical freak of nature – his spirit and passion were palpable; we’re so honored to have him as a champion of LIFT’s work and to be able to help him advance his personal mission of social justice,” Reuler said.

The event will pave the way for LIFT-Chicago in the future. Reuler said, “The exposure, revenue and support from LIFT LOCAL will serve as a foundation as we realize our mandate of refining the LIFT model, proving our impact, scaling our operation and driving policy change.”

Photos from the event can be viewed here.