The theme of Vital Bridges' 17th Annual Holiday Brunch was to come into the warmth, so clients can come in from the cold.
About 500 supporters attended the event sponsored by LaSalle Bank to help raise more than $150,000. Vital Bridges is Chicagoland's leading provider of food, housing and counseling for low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
Sen. Richard Durbin received the Food for Life Award in recognition of his national advocacy for services for people living with HIV/AIDS, and his commitment in the fight against the disease. Durbin's wife, Loretta, accepted the award on his behalf.
' [ Durbin ] has always been there,' said Vital Bridges president and CEO Debbie Hinde.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois also received the Food for Life Award for its commitment to helping those with HIV/AIDS improve their health and build self-sufficiency.
According to chairman of the board of directors, Bob Mayo, Vital Bridges has provided over 660,000 meals; 60,000 nights of shelter; and 10,000 counseling sessions in the past 12 months. In addition, Vital Bridges was able to provide educational and vocational services for the first time this year.
Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune made the welcoming remarks for the afternoon event. Kogan said he is ashamed of the mainstream media for allowing something like AIDS to 'totally fall off the radar.'
Hinde agreed with Kogan's remarks, pointing out that HIV/AIDS is now rooted in some of Chicago's poorest communities. Also, the political environment is unfriendly, she said.
'It does indeed take a village and we are the village,' Hinde said. 'We've been here for 17 years, and we're here to stay.'