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Celebrating Women, Transforming Lives

Celebrating Women...Transforming Lives
Friday, April 28, 2017
11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Danada House
3S501 Naperville Road
Wheaton, IL 60189 (view map)


We were thrilled you could join us at our annual Spring Luncheon as we celebrated DuPage women's commitment to the community. Their incredible gifts of time, talents and treasure were recognized, as well as their efforts to make our communities a better place for homeless families. Celebrating Women, Transforming Lives honored women with ties to DuPage County, and thank them for their courage and philanthropy.

This year, Bridge Communities was proud to award Audra Hamernik, Executive Director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority, with the Transforming Lives Award. Audra is a longtime housing executive with more than 20 years of public and private industry experience. Prior to her role leading IHDA, Audra was principal of A. Hamernik & Associates, a consulting firm where she advised not-for-profit agencies like Bridge Communities on affordable housing development and funding strategies. Because of her advice, insight and dedication to affordable housing, Bridge Communities was able to grow our program and serve significantly more homeless families than ever before. The impact of Audra's insight will be felt by Bridge families for the rest of their lives, and it is with much gratitude that we presented her with the Transforming Lives Award.


Steffi Reyes-Thomas came to Bridge Communities as a child with her mother Trina, and brother Dante. At the time, the Reyes family was recovering from the deportation of their father as well as the death of their grandmother. After collaborating with the Salvation Army to alleviate their homelessness short-term, Steffi and her family found themselves welcomed into Bridge Communities. Since completing the Bridge Communities program with her family, Steffi has gone on to graduate high school and earn a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Steffi truly identifies with her career and sustainability plays a huge part in that. She pushes for greener practices and advancements in public health within the built environment via the USGBC and the International WELL Building Institute. Steffi credits her time in Bridge Communities with building her confidence and keeping her focused on her education, and we were thrilled to present her with the Life Transformed Award. 


Returning to emcee the luncheon was Emmy-winning journalist Judy Hsu. An integral part of the ABC 7 news team since 2001, Judy anchors the 11 AM and 4 PM newscasts for ABC 7 Chicago. In addition to her anchor responsibilities, Judy hosts a long-format interview segment on Sunday mornings called "Newsviews." Judy hosted the Sleep Out Saturday rally for Bridge Communities in 2015, and warmly welcomed supporters of Bridge again at the 2016 luncheon. Judy resides in the western suburbs with her husband and four children. 

The featured speaker at the luncheon was be Simone Salter, who was the teenage child in a Bridge family from 2013-2015. She currently resides in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn and is a sophomore majoring in Communications and double-minoring in Intercultural and Urban Studies at Elmhurst College. Her goal and hope is to inspire and encourage others like her to reach their fullest potential through sharing her experience with homelessness. Simone bravely shared her moving story as a homeless youth in the Bridge Communities program and how she now thrives and encourages others to be catalysts for change in their communities.

Click here to see photos of the 2017 event

We thank you for joining us, and look forward to celebrating with you again next year!

For more information about our 2017 luncheon, please contact Chad Pedigo at (630) 545-0610, ext. 19 or chad.pedigo@bridgecommunities.org

2017 Sponsorship Levels

2017 Sponsor Commitment Form

If you would like to make a donation, please click here. 

Online registration is now closed.

Due to limited seating remaining, tickets for the 2017 Celebrating Women, Transforming Lives Luncheon are no longer available for purchase online. To purchase your seat, please contact Chad Pedigo, Special Event Manager at 630-545-0610 x19. Thank you.