Civic Luncheon Features Tom Ricketts, Ernest & Theresa Sawyer, and City of Chicago

The Salvation Army hosted its annual civic luncheon on May 8, with Chicago Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts serving as the keynote speaker.

Phil Rogers of NBC5 Chicago served as the master of ceremonies and helped celebrate the Army’s services to the most vulnerable men, women and children throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Every year, the Army also recognizes the generous donors whose dedicated support makes those services possible. This year, the Army recognized Ernest and Theresa Sawyer and the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS).

Upon accepting the William Booth Award, Theresa thanked everyone and reminded them of General William Booth’s desire to fight for those most vulnerable and quoted one of his most famous speeches.


“While women weep, as they do now,
I’ll fight.

While little children go hungry, as they do now,
I’ll fight.

While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now,
I’ll fight.

While there is a drunkard left,
While there is a poor lost girl upon the streets,
While there remains one dark soul without the light of God,
I’ll fight.

I’ll fight to the very end!”


“I think its important that people know what he stood for,” she said.

Bruce Williamson, Ernest & Theresa Sawyer, Lt. Charles Smith

Civic Luncheon Co-Chair Brian Bernardoni presented Ernest Sawyer with a Sawyer family Bible that belonged to his late brother, former Chicago mayor Eugene Sawyer. “Bibles are very personal things,” said Bernardoni, “I came across it online and was able to confirm it belonged to the family. I thought it was important to return it to its rightful owners.”

“The whole family is elated to have the Bible back,” Ernest said. “We are touched Brian did this for us.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and members from the City’s DFSS were on hand to accept the “Others” Award in recognition of their efforts to eradicate homelessness. Mayor Emanuel also focused on the caring for others in this world. “I’m going to quote Mohammad Ali,” he said. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” The mayor also spoke briefly about additional initiatives the City is pursuing to help those facing homelessness.

Ricketts’ keynote presentation was on one of his passions: being a good neighbor to Wrigleyville and the City of Chicago as a whole. He shared the organization’s community support efforts, including Cubs Charities, as well as players’ and coaches’ own charitable work. In fact, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon visited the Army’s Freedom Center as part of his Thanksmas Dinner, and Cubs Charities has provided a Diamond Grant to support the Freedom Center’s baseball team.

Proud owners of the autographed seats with Lt. Colonels Smith, Tom Rickets and Brian Bernardoni.

This year’s luncheon also included an auction of rare Wrigley Field seats autographed by Tom Ricketts and a paddle raiser to benefit the Army’s range of social service programs. All the funds raised during the luncheon directly support The Salvation Army’s services for those most in need throughout Chicagoland.

Thank you to co-chairs Brian Bernardoni and Michelle Mason, and their dedicated committee: Joe Antunovich, Allan Bulley Sr., Dejuan Ross and Nate Sutton.

We are also grateful to the sponsors who helped make this year’s event a success. We raised more than $600,000 to support programs that battle hunger, homelessness, disasters, human trafficking and more.

To see more photos from the event, visit our Flickr album. To further support our programs, you can make a donation or register to volunteer. Want to help plan next year’s event? Email Jessica or call 773.205.3529 to join the committee!

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