I’m a huge fan of worlds colliding and tomorrow, September 30, two special ones will come together in Lake Forest.
J.McLaughlin is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Market Square. At a time when many brands are closing their brick-and-mortar store fronts, and a year after a global pandemic, Lake Forest’s J. McLaughlin is one of its company’s top three most successful stores in the country, dressing different generations of local women–and a few stylish men along the way. To celebrate, J. McLaughlin is donating 15% of its sales tomorrow, September 30, to a beloved non profit–the Mothers Trust Foundation. They will also be hosting a commemorative ribbon-cutting and wine-tasting at the store from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow night. Many leaders from J. McLaughlin and Mothers Trust will be there.
“It’s so important for a company like J.McLaughlin to give back to the community,” says long-time store manager Colleen Schwanz. “And I’m so happy that J. McLaughlin supported our choice of Mothers Trust to benefit from our celebration.”
Mothers Trust was founded in 1998 by Lake Forest’s Barbara Monsor. Monsor founded Mothers Trust after witnessing firsthand how a seemingly small amount of assistance can change a child’s life. Her idea was simple—to connect people in desperate situations with those who want to provide assistance where it will truly make a difference.
At its core, Mothers Trust Foundation fills in financial gaps for children from birth to age 21, in turn providing hope, building confidence, and making a positive difference in young people’s lives. “We are very good stewards of the money we receive,” says Executive Director Paula Turelli. “We take the trust people have in us very seriously.”
To this end, each Wednesday morning at 9:30, a group of Mothers Trust volunteers gather on a Zoom call to review grant requests and vote on whether or not a grant should be made. Grant requests are submitted to Mothers Trust by social workers and school counselors throughout Lake County on behalf of the children they’re representing. “It’s very important for Mothers Trust to stick to the rules and regulations when evaluating grant requests,” Turelli says. “We would love for more people to join our calls–it’s just one hour each week and Zoom has made it very easy for people to come in and out of those calls as they have time. We discuss each and every grant request we receive to make sure that what we’re doing is sustainable.”
When a grant is approved, the check is cut within 24-48 hours. Grant requests range from something as small as eyeglass frames to something as significant as money to cover health care costs. Mothers Trust also has special rules in their bylaws so that they can issue grants in emergency situations. Since its inception, Mothers Trust Foundation has assisted more than 37,000 children with nearly $3 million in grants.
Monsor was once asked why she decided to call the organization she founded “Mothers Trust.” “There is a notion of mothering at the heart of what Mothers Trust tries to accomplish,” she once said, herself a mother of six and grandmother to eight. “The name sends a message of affection, responsibility, and accountability. A big part of this in my mind is that you’re accountable to your mother.”
Turelli and her staff are beyond thrilled to be part of J. McLaughlin’s celebration. “We are so honored to have been selected when there are so many wonderful charities in the area,” she says. “But this partnership feels very natural.”
When I stopped by J. McLaughlin to make sure everything was ready for tomorrow night, they had just unloaded 15 boxes of new merchandise–lots of wonderful fall items and even a few holiday. Here are some of my favorites.
“I can’t say enough how grateful I am to have worked with so many customers over the last 10 years who are now like my family to me,” Schwanz says. “I hope that they stop by tomorrow night so that I have a chance to say thank you.”
This event tomorrow night promises to be one of the best of fall. It doesn’t get much better than doing a little shopping knowing that it’s all for a good cause.
I’ll be at J.McLaughlin when the ribbon-cutting takes place tomorrow night, so please come by and say “hello.”
See you tomorrow!