It’s About Kids

As we head into spring, summer months will quickly follow bringing a Naperville staple, Ribfest. Every year thousands of people flock to Naperville for the city’s largest festival. And while hundreds of thousands of dollars go toward planning the next year’s event, Ribfest serves another purpose.

Volunteers with the Exchange Club of Naperville started Ribfest back in 1987 as a way to raise money to prevent child abuse. And while this summer’s Ribfest isn’t for another three and a half months, the Exchange Club recently held its annual allocation luncheon at Meson Sabika. There, members of the Exchange Club passed out $550,000 dollars to more than 50 not for profit organizations throughout the community.

“We’ve seen a severe increase in the number of children and families. Those supportive services are so utterly important to them and to integrate them back into the community in a whole way and so the dollars that we receive help provide those services,” said Carol SImler, Executive Director for DuPage PADS.

“We use the money to provide free counseling, to provide scholarships through our snowball programs and to help supplement our revenue that we have for some of our other programs, so it helps us to never turn anyone away,” said Ron Hume, NCO Youth and Family Services Executive Director
Every year, more than 4,000 volunteers transform Knoch Park into Ribfest, and without their help, none of this could be possible.

“I’m just so appreciative of a small group of volunteers who can do something so huge that impacts so many people’s lives,” said Sangita Rangala, Medical
Director at Edward Hospital Care Center. “There’s no way we can even measure the impact of what’s going on. None of us will ever know the impact of stopping abuse. If we stop one abuser, we’ve saved dozens, maybe even hundreds of kids.”

“I think that hard work and being so tired is well worth it when you see the people today and the funding that we’re making is helping them,” said Emy Trotz, President of the Exchange Club of Naperville.

Over the past 24 years, Ribfest has helped the Exchange Club of Naperville raise more than $8 million to donate to more than 50 organizations, all benefitting child abuse prevention.

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