Reps for Chicago’s oldest shelter for abused women will honor one of Chicago’s largest breweries and the organizer of the Chicago Industry Night For Domestic Violence fundraiser. Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC) will celebrate Revolution Brewing and Daniella Caruso’s fundraising efforts at the organization’s annual gala. The gala, called Sounds of Silence, last year raised $281,753 for domestic violence survivors and their children.
The event takes place March 14 at Hyatt Regency Chicago. CAWC is a not for profit that provides a suite of services for victims of domestic violence. They provide mental and financial counseling to help victims find jobs and pay court fees. CAWC development director Alexa Markoff said this is the first time in the event’s history that the company will honor representatives from the food and beverage sector. While domestic violence is prevalent in all industries, 2019 was a year CAWC began to really notice how Chicago’s food and beverage industry is in a unique position to impact awareness — both amongst staffers and with customers.
Caruso, who works as a restaurant marketing consultant, used her connections to organize a first-of-its-kind event for Chicago. In March 2019, she announced Chicago Industry For Domestic Violence (the event, which will return in 2020, has since been rebranded to “Now Serving Awareness”). For one night, participating restaurants and bars donated portions of sales to CAWC. Servers wore T-shirts about the event, while managers posted signs with information showing victims and their allies how to find help. The effort raised $18,000. Once again in October — Domestic Violence Awareness Month — Caruso organized a month-long fund-raising campaign.
“It’s very humbling and sweet,” Caruso said, adding that she’s reluctant to stand in the spotlight. “I know what I’m doing is making a difference and helping.”
Caruso would like to meet with her co-honorees at Revolution. She said it’s no coincidence that the two award winners are from the food and beverage industry. The #MeToo movement reached Chicago’s restaurants and bars in 2019. The most recent incidents involve El Hefe, the River North bar where two women accuse employees of not protecting them from sexual assault.
For the last two years, Revolution has raised $21,000 and $25,000 for CAWC through its annual International Women’s Day event held at its Avondale taproom. The money comes from sales of “the Spirit of Revolt,” an IPA brewed especially for the event. The beer celebrates the role of women in the history of brewing. Still, craft beer is a male-dominated field. Revolution’s Meg Rutledge, the brewery’s director of operations, said about 65 percent of its staff is men, with 35 women. But those demographics are changing with more women getting involved. The event demonstrates that, as Rutledge said its success has exceeded expectations. The crowds, at 500 to 600 people, rival Revolution’s largest events, its barrel-aged beer releases. The female-led International Women’s Day event also carries a different energy compared with more women in the crowd.
“We get people not necessarily here to drink beer. They’re just here to support the cause and to support women being in the industry,” Rutledge said.
A company’s leadership must nurture and support to allow workers like Rutledge to organize events like Revolution’s. Rutledge praised her brewery’s brain trust, saying leadership gave organizers the resources and guidance to succeed. Likewise, leadership must encourage an environment where women feel safe enough to share their stories.
CAWC’s Markoff said the organization in 2019 unexpectedly found a large number of allies in the food and beverage industry.
“We really usually don’t have two honorees, but we felt they both supported us so much last year that we wanted both of them,” she said.
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