Beyond a shared love of the Chicago Fire and the beautiful game, a dedication to helping our shared communities is something that can be found running strongly in the veins of our supporters groups. Here we highlight the efforts being made by members of our Fire community to support and give back to organizations near and dear to our hearts.
Second City Social Club (SC^2) and Logan’s Squares have chosen to celebrate Pride Month with a month-long, multifaceted Prideraiser to benefit Chicago’s El Rescate, the newest benefactor of their yearlong #GivingForGoals and #SupportYourLocal initiatives.
First, can you give us a brief history of your organization/supporters group:
Reuben Hussman: Second City Social Club kicked off back in 2015 as a small group of like-minded Fire Supporters who had been friends for a bit from our time in the Harlem End, but one extra initiative we had in mind was broadening our support to the communities we love beyond CF97. Knowing we all had our own Hobbies, Interests and Passions meant that we could coordinate within our group greater initiatives to be involved and spread our efforts of support beyond match day.
Jake Peters: In 2014 Logan’s Squares was born of a gap in our network of supporter bars. At the time the Logan Square community area had the largest number of Chicago Fire season ticket holders, but no bar where any of those fans could get together with one another to watch the game. Myself and a few of those fans scoped out a series of bars that barely gave us the time of day until we found out fellow fan Jay Eychaner was watching games at Go Tavern (3219 W. Armitage) where we found a home with a staff & owner who are as dedicated to this community as anyone.
Tell us about your community-building initiative:
RH: SC^2 has done a lot over the years to remain involved in all sorts of community building activities, and as mentioned we have a strong focus on doing so beyond match day. This year, we decided to highlight two matches a month on average (more in June) towards our #GivingForGoals campaign. What we do is find an organization whose work we love and pledge $50/Fire goal during that designated match towards them. Beyond that, we’ve been trying to get the word spread around what that organization means to us and how others can help. This campaign has taken our fundraising efforts throughout Chicago and beyond – where some of our targeted matches are Chicago Away matches, so it’s been really great coordinating fundraising campaigns for great organizations in other MLS cities with the help of those other teams’ supporters.
JP: Having a local bar to gather has been entirely about building a community at a grassroots level. Everyone is welcome at Go (if you’re over 21) and we try to foster a space where fans can come to watch a game together even if they have a grudge against one another. Over the past 6 months, we have evolved that into efforts to raise money collectively for local causes. Credit is due to Juan Velasquez (our Silver Foxes rec soccer league captain), Dan Giroux (current ISA chairman & one of the first Squares), Nate Cubeta (current ISA Director of Marketing), & Jake Payne (current ISA Director of Communications). They have all guided this expansion in giving, identified groups, & come up with creative ways to raise these donations, whether through going to fundraisers w/ fellow fans (raising money for defending Chicagoan DACA recipients from ICE), or selling a “jersey sponsorship” for a charitable donation to The Young Center. This has culminated in the #SupportYourLocal button campaign as a way to build upon #GivingForGoals & other supporter-led initiatives, buttons have a long history in our community & this is merging that w/ local giving.
Tell us about who your initiative benefits:
RH: In the past we’ve been involved in various functions, events and fundraising campaigns largely focused on Chicago. Our first large coordinated fundraising initiative was for West Town Bikes’ great youth programs and their women and trans night workshop. With that said, everything we do is with the mindset that we want to be out getting involved in our various communities for gatherings, events, and focuses. Sometimes it is as complicated as a year-long initiative to raise awareness and funds for various non-profits that we know and love, and sometimes as simple as where we gather as a group to spend a bit of our money and support local businesses. We definitely don’t forget about the “social” part of Social Club. Overall, we like to think we represent Chicago well.
Specifically, with this year’s #GivingForGoals campaign, we’ve highlighted and raised funds for the following organizations since the beginning of this season – with much more to come:
- The Philando Castile Memorial Scholarship Fund (Minneapolis, MN)
- GirlForward (Chicago-based, but works nationwide)
- Ujimaa Medics (Chicago)
- Toronto High Park FC’s Buckingham Milligan Humanitarian Fund (Toronto, ON)
- The Triibe (Chicago)
- Zebra Coalition – LGBTQ+ Youth Housing & Support Services (Orlando, FL)
- El Rescate (Chicago, and the focus of our current month-long Prideraiser)
JP: We have made 6 buttons, 3 are the base buttons that, when sold, benefit the current local #GivingForGoals beneficiary. The other 3 that we have made have been to benefit 3 specific local groups so far:
The Triibe, a local journalism group aimed at telling the stories of black millennial Chicagoans. Supporting their work is a step towards achieving equity, not just equality in our local journalism landscape.
El Rescate is an initiative of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center to help homeless LGBTQ youth find stability that is identity-affirming. It was suggested by Michael Giacometti (designer of the Chicago Pride star we are repurposing) who used to live in Humboldt Park but now is part of Fire Fans of the UK. [This button benefits the June #Prideraiser initiative.]
Tell us why you chose to do this:
RH: was It’s important to point out that all initiatives that SC^2 works through are based upon our tenets to be a group of individuals who are active and supportive of our various communities – both inside and outside CF97. Hobbies, Interests and Passions started as a quippy kind of a joke among us, but we realized it encapsulated what we stand for quite well. On top of that, Second City Social Club is intended to incorporate anyone that wants to get involved and remain engaged in social gatherings, fundraising, volunteer events, etc. that are community focused. We realized pretty quickly one of the strengths within our group was our constant focus on what it means to support. To support the club that we love through good times and bad which brought us together, to supporting neighborhood and organization initiatives that we get behind, to just being out in town together – we understand and embrace the power of community and engagement in social support. We guess it’s a natural progression for us to take our supporters mentalities and apply it to all of the communities we live within.
JP: Once SC^2 started #GivingForGoals, we wanted to take that online action & give it a physical form that could be a daily reminder that fans will always have on them of where you can donate. Every #SupportYourLocal button has information for future giving printed on the back rim, & each button is given by hand from one fan to another in exchange for a donation to a local Chicago non-profit. It’s about supporting your local club, supporting your local pub, & supporting your local not for profits.
What does Fire in the Community mean to you?
RH: To be clear, Fire in the Community means we aren’t alone in our efforts to work hard for and give back to the communities we love. The CF97 community has a long history of campaigns, fundraisers & social gatherings based on building out a greater goodness within our ranks. From Rock Against Racism, the CF97 Food Drive, Parker’s Lemonade Stand, raising funds for Assata’s Daughters, the major anniversary committees and parties, to PRIDE parade gatherings, and so many other things – we’re just one little blip on the radar of good things happening within the general Section 8 and CF97 Supporters Community.
JP: It’s a way to come together to do good around the city because in the end so much of the effort we put in on a game by game basis goes into something that has a fleeting purpose. Sports do not address the kind of progress we want to see in our world, but it teaches us to support. It binds our city together by a shared love, & we can use that connection to build networks that can support those people who are making a positive difference for our city, in tangible ways.
Tell us how the rest of our community can get involved:
RH: First and foremost – come out and say “hi” to a few of us!
If you can’t make it to a game you can always check us out via Twitter (@2ndCitySC) or Facebook (Second City Social Club), and we try our best to be pushing out our campaigns there. We’d love to see anyone pledge funds towards these initiatives or to join us in our gatherings around town and with other organizations. Whether you are already a part of a supporters group, an independent, a casual Fire fan, or just interested in our initiatives – we’d love to hear from you and have you join us for some of our social events sometime soon!
I (Reuben) clearly remember as a newbie all those years back that it can be challenging to insert yourself in these things, but we’d just like to recommend anyone who is interested in what we are doing – or anything else that’s going on to just ask around a bit. You can do this through social media, in-person at matches or watch parties, or just by even inviting others to things that you are interested in. There are so many great communities that we feel lucky to be involved with, and each of them are constantly looking to grow – so jump in!
JP: Follow #GivingForGoals, & if you find yourself at the tailgate or at a watch party, ask around about the #SupportYourLocal buttons. We’ll talk your ear off about whatever the current beneficiary is doing & get you a button in exchange for a donation. We’re trying to get as many groups of fans to have a small package of these buttons at as many partner bars, or supporter driven events as we can. If you are interested in being one of those button distributors get ahold of us on twitter @LogansSquares so that we can coordinate.