Community Search
Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
Community Search
Giving Back Exchange
Share |

Giving Back Exchange

The Giving Back Exchange provides CFE members with opportunities to volunteer their time and financial expertise, with a primary focus to help women and girls in our local communities. CFE partners with various community-based organizations to promote financial acumen, leadership, and career-building skills, as well as to assist hardworking families gain access to financial resources.

In addition to helping others, our goals are to build closer relationships among our CFE members and to enhance CFE's reputation in the community.

Want to recommend a partner organization to the Giving Back Exchange?  Submit a Philanthropy Partner Recommendation Form.

View the Committee's 2014 Slide Show

Through the efforts of the Giving Back Exchange, CFE has partnered with the New Moms organization on volunteer events, toy drives, and candle sales.  CFE was recently acknowledged for this partnership, as an In-Kind Donor in the New Moms Annual Report.  Click Here to view the Annual Report. 

Junior Achievement in a Day:
Promoting financial literacy to female high school students
April 20, 2018 | Robert Morris University

The Giving Back Exchange partnered with Junior Achievement to teach fundamental elements of personal finances (earning, saving, investing, budgeting, credit, risk management, giving) to local high school students.  Thank you to CFE members and friends who volunteered to make a difference.

Left to right: Sarah, Judy, Julia, Cathy, Lynne, Mary Lee, Jo & Dorothy

2018 Ladder Up Volunteer Results

The Giving Back Exchange is proud to continue its annual partnership with Ladder Up to assist Chicago families with completing their tax returns thereby keeping more of their hard-earned money.
CFE members, friends and family volunteered over four Saturdays in February at WIC Western in Chicago.  The results speak for themselves:

- On February 24, our volunteers completed 27 tax returns, resulting in $98,002 in refunds!
- On February 17, our volunteers completed 25 tax returns, resulting in $66, 948 in refunds!
- On February 10, our volunteers completed 22 tax returns, resulting in $54,761 in refunds!
- On February 3, our volunteers completed 34 tax returns, resulting in $91,214 in refunds.
Combined, we completed 108 returns and delivered $310,925 in tax refunds to our clients!

Thank you to all CFE volunteers who shared their time and talents to assist these Chicago families!  Visit the Ladder Up website to learn more about their mission, and additional volunteer opportunities:

Here are a few photos from the 2018 volunteer sessions.

February 3:

Top Left - Janice, Bob, Ann, Hank, Natalie, Betsy, Eric, Linda, Peggy, Charles, Mary Lee, Janna, Nagi, Jo, Kristi, Alison
Top Right - Janice, Bob, Ann, Eileen, Natalie, Betsy, Eric, Judy, Peggy, Linda, Charles, Mary Lee, Janna, Nagi, Jo, Kristi, Alison
Bottom Left - Volunteers busy at work
Bottom Right - Volunteers listening to directions & updates for 2017

February 10:

Left: Back: Janice, Peggy, Janna, Betsy, Jo & Maddie; Front: Linda, Mary Lee, Eileen, Judy & Ann (missing – Charles & Leigh)
Right: Busy at work on tax returns!

February 17:


Left: Back: Marilu, Brenda, Mary Lee, Linda, Janna, Nagi, Eric, Regina, Bob, & Charles; Front: Judy, Rosa & Janice (missing – Alison!)
Middle: Linda, Eileen & Alison
Alison, Mary Lee & Regina

February 24:







Left to Right: Molly, Brenda, Mary Lee, Shira, Linda, Nagi, Lavell, Maddie, Jo; Katie (front row) (Judy taking photo & a few other TAP friends) And thanks to our site leaders, Eileen & Katie!

Giving Back Exchange Annual Toy Drive - Thank You!


The Giving Back Exchange extends a heartfelt Thank You to everyone who donated to the Annual Toy Drive during the November 9 Dinner Program.   Toys were donated to the New Moms program and will bring joy and happiness to many families this holiday season!

Thank you for your support!


Giving Back Exchange Hosts Bright Endeavors Candle Making Day

CFE members came together on October 24 to make candles alongside the Bright Endeavors young moms.

Pictured Left:
Front Row - Sandra Ufen, Mary Lee Corrigan; Back Row - Judy Andringa, Lynne Pantalena & Janna Sampson. 
Not Pictured: Sarah Lewensohn

Pictured Center::
Sandra Ufen, Sarah Lewensohn & Logan
Pictured Right: Lynne Pantalena packs boxes


Pictured Left: Bright Endeavors women Tanasia, Shanetta, Nandia, Shantia, and Cathy, Sam, & Jasmine (standing)
Pictured Center: Sarah Lewensohn    Pictured Right: Sandra Ufen

Pictured Left: Mary Lee Corrigan & Janna Sampson
Pictured Center:
Mary Lee Corrigan, Lynne Pantalena (white shirt), Jasmine, Janna Sampson & Sandra Ufen
Pictured Right: Lynne Pantalena, Janna Sampson, Mary Lee Corrigan & Sandra Ufen (back)

The New Moms program helps adolescent mothers attain financial literacy and self-sufficiency through its Bright Endeavors program by providing training as they transition into permanent employment. Participants develop job skills as they produce premium soy candles and bath products.  Click Here to learn more about Bright Endeavors and shop their products.


6th Annual Clothing Drive - September 2017

The Giving Back Exchange hosted the 6th Annual Clothing Drive in conjunction with the September Dinner program.  Donations supported the Cara Program; women (and men) who are training to enter the workforce and build a life of self-sustainment. The Cara Program prepares and inspires motivated individuals to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, transform their lives, strengthen the community, and forge paths to real and lasting success.

Thanks to the generosity of CFE members, this year's clothing drive was the most successful to date!



CFE Giving Back Exchange Supports Junior Achievement and Money Smart Week


Eight volunteers from CFE spent several hours on April 28 helping 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at the Reinberg Elementary School consider career options. In conjunction with Money Smart Week, JA coordinated a Reverse Job Shadowing event where we explained our educational and career paths. The variety in finance positions was obvious. While we were hard pressed to make our jobs sound quite as exciting as the police officer or fire fighter who also presented that day, hopefully we inspired some budding CPAs and investment wizards.



Click Here to view all photos from the 2017 Junior Achievement Day

Many thanks to the high-energy presenters who donated a Friday to help JA: Kathy Abbott, Judy Andringa, Mary Lee Corrigan, Jo Jackson, Cathy Jaros, Krenna Kelly, Denise Kenny, and Laura Skarnulis.

CFE Partners With Ladder Up for 2017 Tax Season

The Giving Back Exchange is proud to continue its annual partnership with Ladder Up to assist Chicago families with completing their tax returns thereby keeping more of their hard-earned money.   Ladder Up had another successful season completing a total of 11,020 tax returns, securing $17.4 million in refunds for their clients.

Did You Know?

  • 2017 was CFE’s fifth year supporting Ladder Up’s Tax Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Volunteers provide free tax preparation to low income families in the Chicagoland area.
  • CFE volunteers support the WIC Western location (one of 19 TAP locations) on Saturday mornings during the month of February
  • In 2016, CFE volunteers completed 81 returns resulting in $241,927 in tax refunds to our clients & community (total of three Saturdays in Feb.)
  • In 2017 CFE volunteers completed 106 returns, returning $243,755 in tax refunds to our clients & community
    • April 8 = 28 returns and $20,640 in refunds
    • Feb. 18 = 26 returns and $97,091 in refunds
    • Feb. 11 = 23 returns and $72,399 in refunds
    • Feb. 4 = 29 returns and $53,625 in refunds
  • 2017 CFE volunteers & friends include: Laura Pearl, Linda Klute, Janice Lucchesi, Mary Lee Corrigan, Jo Jackson, Leigh Harter, Amy Cooper, Judy Andringa, Regina Ward & BMO Harris team, Sandy Rouhselang, Molly O’Farrell and The Private Bank team, Martha McGuire and First Bank of Highland Park team & Alison Tallard




Left Photo: John Mann (Ladder Up Board) along with Judy Andriga & Beth Mueller (CFE & Ladder Up Board Members)
Right Photo: Judy Andringa sits with TAP Client while preparing her tax return.

Photos from the February 4th session:


Left Photo: February 4th Volunteers pictured from L-R: Janice Lucchesi, Alison Tallard, Mary Lee Corrigan, Laura Pearl, and Judy Andringa.  Not pictured: Jo Jackson & Linda Klute
Middle: Standing: Ann, Sitting: Laura Pearl and Jo Jackson
Right Photo: Volunteers preparing tax returns for clients.

Volunteers at the February 11th Session:

Pictured L-R: Allison Tallard, Linda Klute, Laura Pearl, Janice Lucchesi and Jo Jackson. 

Photos from the February 18th Session:


Left Photo: February 18th volunteers pictured include CFE members and friends. L-R: Rosa (WIC Western translator), Judy Andringa, Regina Ward, Molly O'Farrell, from The Private Bank & colleague of Jennifer Evans, Mary Lee Corrigan, Janice Lucchesi, Allison Tallard,  Linda Klute, and Amy Mahan, KPMG & our WIC Western site leader for the past 5+ years.
Middle Photo: Volunteers gearing up to prepare tax returns.
Right Photo: Members of the community took advantage of the beautiful weather and lined-up early to have their taxes prepared.

Visit the Ladder Up website to learn more about their mission,


CFE Members Give Back to Bright Endeavors

The Giving Back Exchange had its 2016 fourth quarter volunteer event at Bright Endeavors on Thursday morning, October 20. Five CFE members, Janna Sampson, Jo Jackson, Judy Andringa, Linda Klute, and Mary Lee Corrigan, plus a friend of Janna’s, attended the event. The limited turnout worked to give those that volunteered a very up close look at how the program works as well as the opportunity to learn more about the lives of the Bright Endeavors young Moms. The Bright Production Assistants as the young Moms are called taught the volunteers how to make candles and then we worked together making candles to fulfill their holiday season orders. The morning volunteer session was a terrific opportunity to spend time with fellow CFE members and see this wonderful program in action.

The Bright Endeavors program under the New Moms organization assists adolescent mothers attain financial literacy and self-sufficiency by providing intensive training helping to provide a pathway out of poverty for young mothers in Chicago as they transition into quality, permanent employment. Bright Endeavors participants gain job skills as they produce premium soy candles and bath products.

As you may remember, CFE partnered with Bright Endeavors to create a memorial candle for Cynthia Lafuente that was offered for sale at the YWCA Grand Opening event. From Cyndi’s generous bequest, approximately $25,000 was awarded to New Moms and its Bright Endeavors program which they used to buy a van for transporting candles and to renovate the Bright Endeavors computer labs.


View more photos in the 2016 Bright Endeavors photo gallery.

CFE Partnered with the Cara Program for 5th Year

In conjunction with the September dinner meeting, the fifth annual Clothing Drive was held. More than a dozen members brought clothing and accessories to support women (and men) who are preparing and training to enter the workforce and build a life of self-sustainment.

Thank you to the members who participated and congratulations to Lynne Pantalena who won the raffle - - the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering & Organizing” by Marie Kondo!!

National Futures Association (NFA) Hosts Career Day to Benefit "New Moms" - August 31, 2016

On Wednesday, August 31, 2016, NFA hosted a Career Day event in coordination with New Moms. New Moms supports young mothers, ages 13 through 24, and their children with the personal and workforce development tools that they need to permanently change their life from chronic dependence on society, to economic independence and family sustainability.

During the event, the young women met with NFA staff to discuss the varying types of employment opportunities available at NFA and tips for successfully developing their careers.

Thanks to CFE members Janice Lucchesi who coordinated the event, and Karen Wuertz who hosted the event & welcomed the women at NFA.

  On the left, Karen Wuertz, on the right is Janice Lucchesi, pictured here with New Moms attendees.


2016 Junior Achievement in a Day - May 6, 2016

CFE’s Philanthropy Committee partnered with Junior Achievement to promote financial literacy among female high school students.  Junior Achievement in a Day focused on teaching fundamental elements of personal finances, including earning, saving, investing, budgeting, credit, risk management and giving, in a workshop format.

Junior Achievement exceeded their 2016 goal with a total of 116 women high school students from:

• Team Englewood – 20 Students

• Young Women’s Leadership Charter- 46 Students

• Muchin College Prep- 50 Students

Special thanks to CFE volunteers for helping Junior Achievement reach their goal!


Pictured left to right: Lydia Wahlke, Carol Morse, Laura Skarnulis, Patricia Rexford, Rose Panico-Marino, Jo Jackson, Judy Andringa, Cathy Jaros and Kathleen Ross.
Not pictured: Denise Kenny

View more photos in the 2016 Junior Achievement Photo Gallery.

CFE Ladder Up Volunteers Continue Tradition of Giving Back to Chicago Families

As in years past, CFE members supported Ladder Up and volunteered to assist individuals with their 2015 tax returns. Our thanks to CFE members & friends: Judy Andringa, Linda Klute, Molly O’Farrell, Mary Lee Corrigan, Laura Pearl, Janice Lucchesi, Regina Ward, Lynne Pantalena, Jo Jackson, Diana Doyle & her son, Colin, Beth Mueller, Amy Mahan, Lisa Leonard, Sandy Rouhselang, Deb Armstrong, Karen Wuertz & NFA co-workers, and FBHP friends. CFE volunteers returned over $355,000 in tax refunds at 36 sessions for our Chicagoland clients & families! 


CFE Members in action volunteering for Ladder Up.
Front Row:
Jo Jackson, Janice Lucchesi, Regina Ward.
Back Row:
Deb Armstrong, Judy Andringa, Lynne Pantalena, Laura Pearl

View more photos in the 2016 Ladder Up Photo Gallery.


CFE Volunteers and Supports Bright Endeavors (November/December, 2015)

Bright Endeavors representatives sold candles and raised approximately $400 in revenue at the November 12 Dinner Program to benefit the New Moms program.  

On November 19, CFE Volunteers spent the morning making candles alongside the Bright Endeavors young moms.  Thank you to the following members for participating: Judy Andringa, Mary Lee Corrigan, Madeline Hall, Jo Jackson, Karen Kane, Linda Klute, Jan Promer, Janna Sampson. 

Bright Endeavors utilized the donation from Cyndi Lafuente’s bequest to purchase a van for candle deliveries, upgrade & expand their computer lab capabilities and hire P-T help to assist with candle deliveries during the busy holiday season. The van recognizes CFE/Cyndi Lafuente with a custom sign & the computer lab was named in honor of Cyndi Lafuente.


New Moms was also supported by a very generous collection of toys during the CFE Holiday Brunch on Dec. 6. The moms are given the opportunity to “shop” for gifts for their children at greatly reduced prices because of donated items. Thanks to Judy Andringa for her delivery services!


 2015 CFE Hosted 4th Annual Business Attire Clothing Drive

In conjunction with the September dinner meeting, the Philanthropy Committee sponsored our 4th annual clothing drive to benefit The Cara Program.  Thank you to the fifteen plus members who brought or sent professional clothing to help Cara participants as they train for and pursue employment.  A special thank you to Chris Jamieson for coordinating our efforts and, along with her husband, making a very significant delivery directly to the Cara site.


CFE Donates $25,000 to Bright Endeavors (July 2015)

Read New Moms/Bright Endeavors' thank you letter here.

This summer we have had the extraordinary opportunity to celebrate the success and significance of former CFE member Cyndi Lafuente who unexpectedly passed away in March, 2012. Cyndi had designated a portion of her estate to CFE with the desire that it be used to continue CFE’s philanthropic work of helping low income women in Chicago. As stewards of Cyndi’s generous bequest, CFE evaluated a number of worthy organizations and, after full vetting, donated $125,000 of her bequest to the Metropolitan YWCA Chicago for expansion and relocation of the YWCA’s Logan Square facility, as well as programming such as computer training and the YWCA’s Economic Empowerment Program which provides members with one-on-one coaching to assist them in achieving work, financial and life goals. A number of us attended the grand opening of the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Cynthia B. LaFuente Center on June 27th.

At the Summer Social, we announced that the balance of Cyndi’s generous bequest, approximately $25,000, had been awarded to New Moms and its Bright Endeavors program. Sharing the same founder as The Enterprising Kitchen which Cyndi supported while a CFE member, New Moms assists adolescent mothers attain financial literacy and self-sufficiency through its Bright Endeavors program by providing intensive training and a pathway out of poverty for young mothers in Chicago as they transition into quality, permanent employment. Participants gain job skills as they produce premium soy candles and bath products. New Moms will use Cyndi’s bequest to purchase IT equipment for the computer lab used by program participants to conduct employment searches, complete applications and communicate with potential employers, and to purchase a used delivery van and hire part-time delivery assistance allowing it to scale its candle rental service with Chicago-area restaurants and venues and to transport goods and staff to sales events where Bright Endeavors products are sold.

Those who knew Cyndi remember her passion and desire to share her knowledge and talent with women who were seeking to improve their lives. The CFE is honored to see Cyndi’s wishes come to fruition. She had and will continue to have a positive impact on women in Chicago with this very generous bequest.

Sara Hays
2015 CFE President


Junior Achievement Day 2015

In 2015, Junior Achievement Chicago celebrated 75 years of bringing key financial knowledge to local young people by engaging professionals to present in the schools. They established a goal of running sessions in 75 different schools during the week of April 27.

The CFE helped them reach that goal as nine enthusiastic volunteers took over four classrooms at ASPIRA: Mirta Ramirez High School on May 1.

Thank you to our fabulous team: Judy Andringa, Lori Gruber, Jo Jackson, Cathy Jaros, Linda Klute, Rose Panico-Marino, Kathleen Ross, and Laura Skarnulis. We extend special appreciation to Laura Skarnulis and Lori Gruber from the American Board of Medical Specialties for coordinating our efforts.

We taught these four lessons:

  • Plan to Earn (how education choices impact lifelong earnings)
  • Savings for Life (some practical lessons on saving and expenses)
  • The Budget Game (prioritizing and making choices)
  • Credit Choices (good vs. bad aspects of credit)

The materials received from JA are top-notch and easy for the CFE “instructors” to get comfortable with.


CFE Ladder Up Volunteers Return Big Savings to Chicago Families


The first 2015 Ladder Up volunteer day, on 2/14, was a big success. CFE members completed 27 tax returns and helped return $61,052 to Ladder Up clients.

The second volunteer day was on 2/21; congratulations to the group who completed 29 tax returns and helped return $73,997 to clients that day.

Volunteers headed back to Ladder Up for a third day of helping Chicago families complete their tax returns (on 2/28). The group completed 23 returns and helped provide $68,555 in refunds.

The third day of volunteering (2/28) resulted in completing 16 returns for a total of $30,253 in refunds.

That's brought the grand total of refunds to $233,857.

An additional volunteer day was added on April 11, and that pushed our 2015 results further to over $272,000 in money returned to clients.

THANK YOU to all volunteers for your commitment to the Chicago community and helping make a difference. 





View 2015 Photos

View 2014 Photos

View 2013 Photos

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal