After much anticipation, the long awaited day arrived. On Thursday, March 25, 2021, The Heathers celebrated our ribbon cutting ceremony at the about-to-be-open Lake in the Hills site.With close family, friends, and local community members, we had a small, casual event to ensure safety and followed local public health guidelines. Here are some of our highlights from the event:
Chicago local bagpiper Henry Wessler provided the music for the event, serenading each guest at the entrance with a quick jaunty blast on his pipes. Sandy Garifo,one of our founders, wanted this important music of Scotland to be a part of our opening ceremonies as she fondly recalled going to her Scottish-born grandparents’ house on Sundays to listen to Scottish folk music: “We wanted a pleasant surprise for our guests that welcomed them with open arms to our family and traditions.” Henry Wessler certainly delivered that energy to our event.
Food was carefully prepared for everyone’s well being, with bagged purple plates and utensils in keeping with our colors. Elle’s Deli and Bagels provided individually wrapped sandwich bagels with ingredients neatly listed on top. As someone who ate quite a few, I can personally say these small bites were packed with flavor and pizzaz. For everyone’s sweet tooth, local college student Taylor C., @cookiesmadebyt, elegantly recreated The Heather’s logo in icing on delicious cookies. We feel very fortunate that we were able share both these local businesses’ creations and talent with our guests.
Our first home has come a long way from the early construction videos we had. For the first time our guests got to see the homes decorated, from furniture to flowers and artwork selected to provide a welcoming and inviting space. For me a personal favorite was seeing a piece of artwork that Sandy Garifo had selected at an art fair years ago. I've seen it in her house since I was a young girl and I love that it's now part of a larger vision where residents can admire it too. Another nice surprise was a plant gifted to the residents from one of our guests that will grow along with our community.
Several members of The Heathers family were asked to speak to commemorate the event, starting with Executive Director John Apostle who welcomed our guests and thanked everyone for their hard work and dedication. Founders Larry and Sandy Garifo discussed this “culmination of their dream” and how their ultimate goal was to “bring back some vitality to people who may have lost a little.” Larry and Sandy also shared their hopes for The Heathers and its residents to be an active part of the local community including working with schools in the area and nearby dance studios once it is safe to do so. Sandy is excited for when we have volunteers of all school ages coming by to work with and also learn from our residents. Ultimately it is important to us that “we aren’t trying to make this home-like, we want to make this people’s home.”
Grateful for Guests:
Of course, this event would mean nothing without all the love and support we had from our guests that joined us. From local community members and businesses, family members of residents, friends, and our wonderful staff, all of these people lent us their energy and warmth to make our ribbon cutting ceremony beautiful. It was a joy to see guests checking out the cozy, yet stylish decor, enjoying the music and food, and discussing with us what they wanted to see from The Heathers.
Overall, we were thrilled to be able to safely have our ribbon cutting for our building at our Lake In the Hills location. The most important takeaway we have from meeting everyone is that our goals and the goals for the community really seem to align well with each other. We can’t wait for our residents and neighbors to be laughing together in our outdoor pavilion and working on community projects. We were thrilled to have everyone who could join us and look forward to a vibrant new beginning. We hope you will join us on this journey!