Edgewater and Andersonville families and community members are invited to a dedication event and open house at One Hope United Edgewater Early Learning Center Friday, August 17, starting at 12:30 PM. Parents, children, community leaders, and neighbors are invited to tour the center, located at 5244 N. Lakewood Ave. (enter on W. Berwyn Ave. just west of Lakewood), and enjoy refreshments and a musical performance by award-winning saxophonist Michael Salter following a dedication ceremony.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will name a learning space for Toni Sandor Smith, a member of One Hope United’s board of directors for nearly 20 years. Smith, a retired partner of the executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart, lives in Edgewater and is a frequent visitor to the center and a favorite storybook reader of its students.
Smith, a New York City native, moved to Chicago in 1963 and joined Spencer Stuart in 1970 as a receptionist. Four years later she became the firm’s first female consultant and eventually its first female partner. She founded and led the firm’s nonprofit practice and helped place executives in many of Chicago’s and the country’s leading nonprofits.
Smith has been equally ambitious at One Hope United. She cofounded the organization’s first annual gala, which has grown into Hope In Action, an annual event that attracts more than 300 guests and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to support work for children and families in Chicago and beyond.
As a member of the board’s governance committee – and serving several terms as chair – Smith has helped evolve the board from a group of mission-dedicated volunteers to a team of accomplished executives who, in addition to a passion for the mission, bring fundraising capacity and professional expertise that allow them to be more strategic and proactive in steering the 120-year-old, $50 million organization.
“As a member of our board of directors for nearly 20 years, Toni Sandor Smith has been an outstanding servant of One Hope United, seeing the organization through immense change and growth. I speak for the entire board when I say we are thrilled to recognize her service by naming a space for her in her own community, at the Edgewater Early Learning Center,” said board chair Theresa A. Dear.
In addition to serving on One Hope United’s board, a role she will step down from next year, Smith has volunteered with the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Chicago Network, the Executive Service Corps of Chicago, Lakeview Pantry, the Oriental Institute, and Steppenwolf Theatre.
Chicago native Michael Salter is an award-winning saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. Salter was nominated for a Grammy award for a salsa big band recording with Angel Melendez and the 911 Mambo Orchestra. Since July 2008, Salter has been a member of Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. The group’s latest CD, Havana Blue, was listed as one of the best CDs of 2016 by Downbeat Magazine. A passionate and dedicated educator, Salter is also a Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Teaching Artist, which allows musicians from the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic to work directly with youth from Chicago Public Schools.
The Edgewater Early Learning Center, located in the North Shore Baptist Church, has been serving families in Chicago’s Edgewater and Andersonville neighborhoods with the highest quality early education and care for more than 30 years. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the center provides individualized care for children, including children with special needs, in an environment designed to foster growth and development, and includes Head Start classrooms, which provide services and preschool to families living at or below the federal poverty level.