John Anthony can sometimes get a little emotional.
So of course, he found himself overwhelmed on Saturday night, when more than 300 people turned up to the Family YMCA in Oswego, solely to help him achieve a dream. Anthony and his wife, Deborah, call that dream the YARN Foundation, a not-for-profit they hope to open in June.
Saturday’s event was YARN’s first major fundraiser, which the Anthonys dubbed “Jump Start.” They drew supporters from all over Kendall County, and when the dust had settled, they collected about $14,000 to make the YARN Foundation a reality.
“This is something I’ve dreamed about for 15 years,” John Anthony said. “I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
YARN stands for Young and Restoring Nations, and the Anthonys, who live in Plainfield, hope to use the foundation to help Kendall County’s young people succeed. Once the foundation’s community center opens in Boulder Hill, they will offer GED courses for those looking to complete their education, pregnancy counseling, and other services for young people, free of charge.
The foundation has secured a building, at 71 Boulder Hill Pass—the owner, Henry Funk, has donated the first year’s rent for free. Butterball has donated $10,000 in furniture, and ServPro of Kendall County will provide $5,000 of construction services for free as well.
The YARN Foundation needs $113,000 to get off the ground, and with the $15,000 in in-kind donations and the $14,000 raised on Saturday, they’re off to a good start, Deborah Anthony said. She said they are grateful, and “know with the community’s help we can continue to meet our goal.”
Saturday’s event included a silent auction, in which attendees bid on dozens of packages donated by local businesses. (For a complete list of sponsors, click here.) Desserts were provided by Cupcakes 2 Remember, and beverages by the Village Grind. Centerpieces on the table included balls of yarn.
The Anthonys hope to use the YARN Foundation to be a positive influence on as many lives as possible. And if you doubt their sincerity, you only needed to listen to John Anthony’s speech on Saturday night.
Anthony, a Kendall County police officer, told his own story—born to a drug addict mother, never knowing his father, raised by the streets, and finally becoming a homeless alcoholic, sleeping in abandoned cars. Surviving two accidents that should have killed him. Living every day with pain and heartbreak.
“I started YARN with my wife and all these volunteers because every young person doesn’t have to feel that pain,” Anthony said, his voice breaking. “I’m here because someone said, ‘You matter. Your life matters, even with all the mistakes you’ve made.’”
“We need you to stand with us, and effect change for an entire generation of young people who are giving up because no one is telling them they matter,” he said.
The YARN Foundation is still seeking financial contributions, volunteers and donations of building supplies for their new headquarters. For more information, check out their website.