It was an unseasonably sweltering day in mid-September 2018, but what Evan Westlake remembers more than the uncomfortable weather is the sense of gratitude and excitement among the team of staff, volunteers and donors from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois.
The source of that excitement was the groundbreaking for the newest Ronald McDonald House in Peoria, a culmination of years of planning and fundraising efforts that Evan (SVP, commercial lending for INB) helped to oversee as the nonprofit’s board chair.
“This is the biggest project that I have been involved with during my time on the board: the new 40,000 square foot house in Peoria that is part of the Central Illinois chapter. With the construction of this house, we’ll be able to serve 700 more families per year,” Evan said. “It’s been extremely rewarding to help run this $10 million project, funded solely by generous donors, to bring our services to more families.”
Involvement Stems from Personal Experience
Evan’s interest in getting involved with the Ronald McDonald House stemmed from the birth of his daughter, who was hospitalized for 37 days in the NICU at St. John’s Children’s Hospital.
“With my daughter’s NICU stay, I saw the burden placed on families that live far from the hospital, and I saw the time and funds spent from these families who traveled to be with their kids,” he said. “Our family is fortunate to live in Springfield, so we could be home and still be close to our daughter. So it became important to me to help those families who didn’t live close.”
In early 2012, Evan approached RMHCCI Executive Director Kelly Thompson at an American Business Club luncheon to learn more about the charity.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois is currently building the new Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Peoria opening later this year and also operates RMH in Springfield. Both House programs will support families who have children ages 0-21 who are receiving medical care.
Home Away from Home for Families
Families living more than 40 minutes outside of either town are able to stay overnight in a private bedroom free of charge for as long as their child receives medical care (the estimated cost to the charity is $88 for a one night’s stay). The average stay is 11 days but can range from one night to several months. Families closer to Springfield or Peoria will be able to use the day-only program consisting of meals, shower and laundry services.
After their initial meeting, Kelly invited Evan to join the committee for the House’s Golf Classic fundraiser. After serving on that committee, Evan joined the Board of Directors and eventually stepped into leadership positions on the board – first as vice treasurer, then vice chair, and finally as board chair, where he served from January 2015 to December 2018.
“Whether Evan was guiding our efforts to implement a new strategic plan, participating in our annual Golf Classic or serving on our capital campaign committee for our new House being built in Peoria, Evan has been instrumental in leading our charity on a path to more than double our impact throughout the region,” Kelly said. “INB has been there every step of the way throughout Evan’s inspirational journey with RMHCCI, supporting his time devoted to our charity and his passion for helping sick children and their families!”
Evan, NMLS #662918, credits INB’s unwavering support for his ability to dedicate so much time and effort to advancing Ronald McDonald House’s mission, especially the nonprofit’s major expansion into Peoria.
“Serving as RMHCCI Board Chair has taught me a lot about organization, leadership, and how to run a medium-sized entity – so it was helpful in my personal growth and afforded me skills that I have been able to apply to my role at the bank,” Evan noted. “INB truly values community involvement from all of our staff members and encourages us to support and get involved with nonprofits and causes important to us.”