Student Volunteers Support EQIL Gala

As part of their Civic Lab, a trio of juniors volunteered at the annual gala/chief fundraiser for EQIL—Equality Illinois.

Juniors work together in small groups throughout the year to explore examples of marginalization in Chicago as part of their U.S. History and Civic Lab curriculum.

Jacob Condrell, Riana Gehani and Elle Marsico are members of the Creating Alliances Civic Lab, which provides opportunities for students to step forward and create safe and supportive spaces for all members of the LGBTQ community at Parker, in Chicago and beyond.

After meeting with leaders from Equity Illinois on their second fieldwork day of the year, they asked how they might get involved to support the organization. When there was a call for volunteers to assist with the annual fundraiser, these students jumped at the chance to do their part.

In addition to supporting the event as volunteers, they also bumped into a familiar face in this year’s Thoreau Speaker, Art Johnson, who lit up when the students approached him and introduced themselves. Johnson visited Parker in December to share his story of being arrested with his partner for being gay and have since become lifelong change agents.

The students ended up having an incredible day while supporting a worthy cause and offered the following:

“Volunteering at the 2024 annual Equality Illinois Gala was truly a remarkable and eye-opening experience! As a silent auction/ballroom monitor, I was fortunately able to witness the fact that a collection of voices can spark change! Listening to firsthand accounts of victims experiencing hate speech within the LGBTQ+ community inspired me to step up. No matter how you identify, volunteering at Equality Illinois is open to anyone and everyone. There are countless friendly faces, and it is such a welcoming environment; I without a doubt would recommend this experience!”
- Riana Gehani

“Volunteering at the Equality Illinois Gala was an exciting and engaging way to get involved! In addition to supporting such an important cause, I was able to meet new people, have some fun and experience something new. I strongly suggest others volunteer in the future!”
- Jacob Condrell

“Volunteering at the annual Equality Illinois Gala was truly an unforgettable experience. It was inspiring to see people, a part of the LGBTQ+ community or allies, come together in order to celebrate and spread awareness for members in need. With such a long history of fighting for equality, there was nothing less than rooms filled with power and happiness. Being able to contribute as a silent auction monitor was simply one way for me to stand up, and there is no doubt that I would do it again. I would recommend this to anyone remotely interested in witnessing and creating change within the LGBTQ+ community!”
- Elle Marsico
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.