The high-spirited Karen Roche, right, celebrates the festive spirit of Laugh for Literacy with her friends. From left to right, Jim and Marianne Coogan and her father, Mr. John Lee, came out to lend their support and cheer on the popular and beloved award recipient. Friends and family turned out in large numbers to support Karen and support the program and cause that are dear to her heart, School and Tutors on Wheels, and adult literacy in suburban Cook and DuPage county.
Bill Gress, associate director of CSJ Ministries, deposits a raffle ticket in one of the baskets filled with fabulous gifts donated by local businesses. His basket of choice: the “Roll the Dice” basket filled with 40 Lottery tickets nested in $3,640 of shredded U.S. currency. He later won the basket! Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of local businesses, this year there were 41 gift baskets to choose from.
Sr. Pat Bergen, CSJ, Lisa Monnot, associate director of Taller de Jose, and guest Eric Granlund are all smiles as they enjoy each other’s company and the festive spirit of the theater benefit night that supports the on-wheels adult literacy program sponsored by the Congregation of St. Joseph. Sr. Pat is a member of the Congregation's leadership team.
Sr. Pat Bergen, CSJ, enjoys Laugh for Literacy with guests
Bill Gress, direcor of CSJ Ministries, looks over the fabulous raffle baskets at Laugh for Literacy
Larry and Karen Roche with friends at Laugh for Literacy
The audience cheers when the winners of the 2012 Gratitude Award and Student Success Award were announced. The most emotional part of the evening for the guests is hearing the award-winning tutor and student who describe the life-enhancing experiences of participating in the School and Tutors on Wheels’ mobile literacy program. About 300 people turned out this year, in keeping with the similar turnout in the previous years.
Sr. Julie Cannon, CSJ, co-chair of the event committee, hugs Emilio Gervilla, chef owner of Emilio’s Tapas Restaurant, with gratitude for the extraordinary support that he and his wife, Ann Marie, have given to School and Tutors on Wheels. With the help of several CSJ sisters, Sr. Julie also made 60 dozen cookies for this year's event!
Program director Debbie Bradt (center), former tutor Mary Lou Albanese (r) and a guest enjoy the food and the festive red, white and blue “Fourth of July” décor that reflected the theme of the play at Laugh for Literacy 2012. All that was missing was the fireworks.
Debbie Bradt, program director of School on Wheels, with volunteers
Sr. Julie Cannon, CSJ, with Emilio of Emilio's Tapas in Hillside
Audience at Laugh for Literacy

Emilio's Tapas Restaurant
Using Mickey Mouse in her tutoring sessions to teach map skills and prepositions to a student who was planning a vacation to Disney World is just one of the creative methods that earned Karen Roche the Gratitude Award that is presented annually to an amazing tutor. Kathy Lyons (l), board president of School and Tutors on Wheels congratulates her for her achievement.
Karen Roche, Gratitude Award winner, with Kathy Lyons, president of the board of School and Tutors on Wheels
STOW Executive Director Theresa Denton congratulates Maria de los Angeles Lopez, the Student Success Award winner. She was unemployed and too embarrassed of her English skills to speak. Now a full-time clerical aide at her local school, she writes English fluently and says she can now “answer the phones at school and talk to people all day.”
Who knew raising money to help adults learn life-changing reading and writing skills could be so much fun? At the pre-performance reception, guests enjoyed cocktails and wine with appetizers provided by Emilio’s Tapas Restaurant and various local food and wine establishments. Lucky raffle winners walked away with baskets filled with jewelry, wine, and spa and restaurant certificates.
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