WEST ENGLEWOOD — Less than two months after becoming executive director of a struggling shelter for women and children, Rosiland Sculfield is planning a major fundraiser with a goal of raising $50,000.
The event will mirror the Jerry Lewis Telethon and will run from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 19 at Kennedy-King College's Fine Arts and Theater Building, 6401 S. Halsted St. A $10 donation at the door is requested and proceeds will go toward operating expenses for Clara's House and Clara's Place at 1650 W. 63rd St., two shelters operated by the West Englewood United Organization.
"Everyone can expect refreshments and plenty of entertainment," Rosiland Sculfield said. "There will be local comedians, including my funny husband, Tony, and singers performing continuously. We are working on having celebrity guests, too."
Much like the long-running Lewis telethon, which benefits children with Muscular Dystrophy, Sculfield said she is trying to get the event televised live.
"It will be streamed live on our website but I am also trying to get it carried on TV and radio," she said.
Clara Kirk, 72, founder of the West Englewood United Organization, said she hopes the event will raise enough money to keep the shelters open.
"If I had to close, these women and children would have nowhere to go," Kirk said. "It is getting cold outside and I can't have them walking around looking for a place to stay warm."
Twice this year Kirk faced hard times that threatened to close the shelters.
In March, Kirk was at odds with the city of Chicago over $41,969 in building code fines. The city settled with Kirk in August for $1,000. And most recently in October, Peoples Gas disconnected heat at Clara’s Place due to a past due bill of $21,026.74.
According to Kirk, it takes about $275,000 a year to run Clara’s House, which is fully occupied, and $375,000 for Clara’s Place, which has 37 occupants, even though it can accommodate 59 people. Kirk said she did not have enough money to feed 59 people, which is why Clara’s Place is not full.
"Yeah, I know $50,000 is a drop in the bucket but that's better than the bucket being empty," said Rosiland Sculfield, who works as a volunteer for the organization. "Up until now there was no one on staff to apply for grants, which is usually the job of the executive director. Now that I am here I plan on taking a grant-writing class to help me apply for grants."