OHU Dedicates the Toni Sandor Smith Future Scholars Learning Lab in Edgewater

With a giant pair of child-safe scissors in hand, Toni Sandor Smith, a member of One Hope United’s board of directors for nearly 20 years, cut the ribbon at a ceremony in her honor on Friday, August 17th.

The dedication took place at our Edgewater Early Learning Center, where One Hope United celebrated her contributions to the center, the board, and the Edgewater community by naming the center’s second floor the Toni Sandor Smith Future Scholars Learning Lab.

Friends of Toni, fellow board members and OHU staff gathered for the ceremony, along with Alderman Harry Osterman, who shared his appreciation for Toni’s and the center’s contributions to the Edgewater community.

“The real impact of her work with kids in our community is amazing,” said the Alderman. “Very early in life, the gift of education, when they come here, opens up their world and entire future.”

An Edgewater resident, Toni is a frequent visitor to the Edgewater Early Learning Center and has become a favorite storybook reader of our students. And as a member of the board and former chair, she has made a major impact on our organization.

“It takes a special person to take the time and interact with the kids like Toni does – and be able to ask really insightful questions at board meetings,” said CEO Todd Schultz.

“Toni’s legacy of leadership and her relentless commitment to governing and growth have allowed One Hope United to experience higher levels of service, deeper community relationships, and stronger strategic partnerships,” shared OHU Board Chair, Theresa A. Dear.

In addition to naming the second floor in Toni’s honor, the board also established a scholarship in her name.

Though Toni was the guest of honor, she made sure to recognize the One Hope United staff and the programs at Edgewater. “It’s not about me, it’s not about a wing – it’s about supporting something really important,” she explained. “This is an honor, but I’m a surrogate for the work of the staff.”

Following the ceremony, students surprised Toni with a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork before singing a special song. Guests then enjoyed refreshments and a musical performance by award-winning saxophonist Michael Salter, a teaching artist with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, which brings jazz education into Chicago Public Schools.

To learn more about the Edgewater Early Learning Center, visit https://onehopeunited.org/edgewater-early-learning-center.

PHOTO: Toni Sandor Smith (with scissors, center) cuts the ribbon to dedicate the Toni Sandor Smith Future Scholars Learning Lab at Edgewater Early Learning Center. She is joined by (from left) Anthony Ruth, SVP, Marketing & Communications; Todd Schultz, CEO; Rosanne DeGregorio, Director of Programs; Alderman Harry Osterman; Board Chair Theresa Dear; and musician Michael Salter.