Connecting Communities | July 2022
The Marillac St. Vincent Family Services Associate Board are
a group of young professionals from around the Chicagoland area who are
dedicated to supporting the mission of MSV. For over 20 years, the board has
helped create awareness and raise funds for the organization. It provides a fun
and engaging space for young professionals to network and volunteer through
programs they organize such as Career Day for MSV students, the Willie Morris
3x3 Basketball Tournament where they provide integral support, and House of
Cards, their annual casino night fundraiser.
To celebrate the accomplishments of the Associate Board, we
interviewed two active members. Events Chair, Johnny Sullivan, and Outreach and
Volunteer Services Leader, Ashley Thorne. Both have deep family ties to the
organization and bring their unique experiences to the board. Read on to learn
more about what MSV means to them and why they are passionate about our
What attracted you to the mission and culture of Marillac St. Vincent and joining the Associate Board?
Ashley: I’ve been a part of MSV since I was a child. It began with my mom; her first job as a kid was working in the after-school programs. Back during her time, the big news was Michael Jordan’s visit to Marillac St. Vincent when he was a rookie drafted by the Chicago Bulls.
I grew up right across the street from the Foglia Center, and I’ve been involved with nearly every program that Marillac St. Vincent offers. I started as a young kid in the school-aged program, moved onto volunteering as a high school student, and participated in the teen mom program at 19 when I was pregnant with my son, which led me to working at MSV in the family services department. Now, my 13-year-old son is a part of the MSV programs!
Johnny: I got introduced to Marillac St. Vincent with a family connection. My older sister was on the Associate Board and brought me to my first event, the House of Cards, which is the biggest event of the year for the AB. I come from a big family and have had lots of cousins who have volunteered on the AB for the last 10 years as well.
After moving back to the city post-college, I was looking for a way to volunteer in my free time and thought MSV would be a good fit, especially because of my family’s involvement over the years. I love how the board attracts diverse yet like-minded individuals who are committed to fundraising in positive, fun, and engaging ways to help the community of Marillac St. Vincent.
Please tell us a little more about the focus of the AB and your role in it.
Ashley: The focus of the Associate Board is to provide young people with networking opportunities and to raise funds for the services provided by MSV. I wanted to help raise money for MSV as it has been so supportive of me. I wanted to give back. I noticed there were members on the AB who didn’t have direct ties to Marillac St. Vincent in their past, and I wanted to represent individuals who have actually been supported by MSV’s services [and] to encourage other young professionals to reinvest in the community.
MSV has been there for so many in my community, and I’ve been fortunate to stay in touch with them. My close friend Latoya Winters is the president of the Associate Board, and she brought me to my first AB event. Now I’ve been an active member for five years, and I enjoy serving as a liaison to friends and MSV alumni.
Johnny: The main mission of the Associate Board is to fundraise and support the overall efforts of the MSV organization. The AB provides an opportunity for young professionals who are interested in helping the communities of Chicago that are served by MSV, to gather for monthly meetings, plan social and fundraising events, and volunteer at other MSV programs.
I’ve been the Event Chair for the last year, leading the planning and running of the events that the AB hosts. I love the planning process and seeing all the little pieces come together when we put on a special event. Though our goal is to raise as much money as we can at each event, we also try to make it fun for everyone—it’s a chance to bring friends and family, while recruiting new members to the AB. We typically host up to six events each year, including the House of Cards, which is our biggest event, as well as smaller social and recruiting events like the Guest Bartending.
What are some highlights of the Associate Board during your time with the organization?
Ashley: There are so many highlights I have with Marillac St. Vincent, and when I think of MSV, I think of FUN! I remember going to the Weber Steven’s Christmas party when I was younger, as well as going on my first boat ride. Now, because of MSV, I don’t ever make it through the summer without going on a boat in Lake Michigan.
Johnny: My favorite event is the House of Cards, our largest AB fundraising event, which is a casino night in the middle of winter. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to host it the last few years with the pandemic, but we hope to have it again this upcoming February. Since I have a strong family connection with the organization, my extended family attends our events—it provides another special outlet where we can get together with cousins, aunts, and uncles.
I love spending time with the kids in the MSV programs, too, before or after our AB meetings or during smaller events while volunteering. Recently I got to know the kids better at the 3x3 Basketball Tournament, for example. It’s also cool to see fellow board members like myself transition and grow in their roles.
What would you say to someone considering joining the Associate Board?
Ashley: It never feels like a job. Everyone is busy, but we all try to make it to the meetings and support the events. Just come! You’ll have a good time! You spend money anyway, so you might as well spend it to help kids, right? . On a personal level, it’s great to see children thriving, to contribute to someone’s development. Even if you’re not an extrovert like me, there are still ways to help and get involved.
Johnny: Reflecting on my personal experience, I wanted to volunteer but didn’t know how or where to do it. I found MSV, and I’ve loved becoming part of its special community. There is such a strong level of engagement across the organization, from the volunteers to the dedicated, enthusiastic staff members. It’s been a wonderful way to expand my personal and professional network while doing important work in the local Chicago communities where I can directly see the impact.
As you would expect, we had a big drop-off during the height of the pandemic, losing more than half of our young professional members. One of our goals is to get back to higher levels of engagement among our members. We’ve been able to adjust to the virtual setting, and we have some dedicated individuals, but we want to grow that engagement to more in-person involvement. On another note, I’d also love to see more investment of the AB members as volunteers and mentors in the day-to-day programs, outside of our scheduled events—things like tutoring programs or other after-school activities.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Ashley: My experience has been great. I have learned more about myself as a professional since being on the Associate Board. It has made me stronger, more committed to the cause, and passionate about giving back to the community that has offered me so much.
Johnny: The overall MSV mission is so ingrained in the community of volunteers, staff, and clients, and it is really special to be a part of it. The Associate Board is an easy way to start helping and to get involved right in your backyard.
Interested in getting involved with the Marillac St. Vincent Associate Board? Contact Kerrie McKeough for more information.
Learn more about ways to donate, volunteer or work at MSV.