The Center on Halsted ( COH ) honored three community leaders during the 2015 By Women for Women: Masquerade-Music-Entertainment event held at Chicago's Greenhouse Loft on Oct. 16.
The evening was organized by the Center's Women's Action Committee, whose events spanning the year are designed to benefit women's organizations in Chicago.
In a perfect illustration of women's abilities to empower each other, the first two awardeesfounders and former owners of the legendary Andersonville bookshop Women & Children First Linda Bubon and Ann Christophersonprovided the 2011 swearing-in venue for Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who was recognized for her tireless work in Springfield advancing LGBTQ causes including marriage equality and legislation against transgender hate-crimes, combating gun violence and her work on anti-bullying measures among a long list of achievements.
"I am blessed to represent a district that includes amazing businesses like Women & Children First," Cassidy said after receiving her award from her community outreach coordinator, Pat Ewert. "I wouldn't be me without you. When it came time to be sworn in there was no question where my heart was. It was where you went when you first got here to figure out how to be a lesbian in Chicago."
The Center's Women's Action Committee board representative Cheryl Merchant echoed Cassidy's sentiments in presenting the award to Bubon and Christopherson.
"Nearly 40 years ago, [they] had a vision to create a bookstore that would not only sell books but would also be a place where feminist ideas would be welcomed, encouraged and shared," Merchant said. "A place where they would have events, host authors and discussions on topics varying from feminist psychology to sexual politicsa place for women. I know when I first came to Chicago, this is where you went to find out what was going on in the women's community. We are so blessed that they had the vision, determination and leadership to make it happen."
Recovering from an eye injury, Bubon could not attend. In her remarks and on her behalf, Christopherson said they were just as blessed to have the lesbian, transgender and Andersonville communities: "We couldn't have done what we did without all of you doing what you did. Keep going, keep supporting the store and the programs you've always done."
"I represent each and every one of you," Cassidy told the capacity audience. "We do amazing things in this city and we do that in partnership, cooperation, friendship and sharing. That's what happens at the Center. That's how I operate as a legislator and I am so grateful to be your partner today, yesterday and tomorrow."
The Covergirls Violin Show and Passistas Samba Dance Troupe provided entertainment.