Beautifying Chicago

Beautifying Chicago

Food & Drink

Beautifying Chicago


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One of our Food Channel producers had a chance to visit the kids of After School Matters and watch our Behind the Dream documentary with them. When she arrived at the church on the south side of Chicago she also ended up being a guest judge for a special competition. Here’s her story:

I attended an end-of-session gathering for the kids participating in the summer program for After School Matters with Gloria Hafer. I was told they’d be watching our “Behind the Dream” documentary and I wanted to be there to see their reaction. After a 30-minute ride to the south side of Chicago, I arrived at the church which, just months ago, was filled with chocolate covered jelly beans provided courtesy of the Jelly Belly Candy Company and a large replica of Cloud Gate.

The basement of the church was hot and humid. When I walked in, Gloria grabbed me and hugged me and it was as if no time had passed. I looked around and saw a bunch of beautifully designed cakes. Gloria handed me a clipboard and said, “By the way, you’re a guest judge for our cake competition.” So much for simply watching the documentary with the students! Now I’m a guest judge; all right, I’ll take it. Gloria informed me that we’d be watching the movie over lunch once everyone arrived.

I walked around to each table and checked out all of the cakes and noticed they were all “Alice in Wonderland” themed. I finished writing down my scores and walked back to Gloria, who then told me that her program with After School Matters has been chosen to create cakes for an upcoming gala whose theme is Alice in Wonderland. The gala is called the “Green Tie Ball” and it’s hosted by Chicago Gateway Green, a non-profit organization dedicated to “beautifying” Chicago. ASM will be the only teenage program attending and participating in the gala. Let me just say, Gloria really knows how to get her kids involved in their community and bring them new opportunities.

Lunch-time rolled around and “Behind the Dream” came on the big screen. I’ve watched this piece so many times, but I still get chills during some parts. After it was over, Gloria had me stand up and she introduced me and everyone clapped. It was quite the experience, knowing the impact our work had on these students. If you haven’t seen our four-part documentary, be sure to check it out starting with Part I.

Oh, and since “Alice in Wonderland” was the theme for the cakes and for the upcoming gala, how about a riddle from the Mad Hatter: Why is a raven like a writing desk?


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