Chicago couple cancel wedding reception, use catering deposit to feed others for Thanksgiving

Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis had been planning a big wedding in a funky West Town warehouse, with catered food and 150 guests coming in from both coasts and lots of places in between.

But then the pandemic did what it’s done to so many giddy couples — it wrecked those elaborate plans.

“It just didn’t feel like it was in the cards,” said Bugg, 33, who lives in the Avondale neighborhood.

So last month, Bugg and Lewis, 34, decided to tie the knot anyway, alone, except for their photographer, before a judge on the 13th floor of the Daley Center. Bugg left her $1,400 wedding dress in the closet, choosing a simple white dress instead, as they made their way through the first-floor metal detector to the elevator and then to the courtroom.

With no guests, there would be no reception and no food — not for them at least. Bugg and her new husband decided that wouldn’t mean no celebration.

Bugg supervises a team of community outreach workers for Thresholds, a Chicago-based nonprofit that offers a range of services for people with serious mental illnesses.

Every year, Thresholds organizes big Thanksgiving gatherings for its clients. That couldn’t happen this year because of the pandemic.

“Our members look forward to the Thanksgiving party every year. So when they started asking when it would be and what would happen, that’s when the wheels started to turn,” Bugg said.

The couple persuaded their caterer, Big Delicious Planet, to use their $5,000 deposit to instead package up 200 Thanksgiving meals, including turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. Bugg and some of her co-workers personally delivered those meals last week to 200 Thresholds clients at their homes on the West Side.

The couple’s generosity was first reported by The Washington Post.

“She took what could have been a really sad situation for herself, her husband and her family and she turned it into something magical and beautiful,” said Bugg’s boss, Mark Ishaug, Thresholds CEO.

Or as Bugg puts it: “Even while we were disappointed, we realized we still have so much. Canceling a wedding compared to what other people were going through wasn’t as big a deal.”

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Chicago couple turns catering deposit into donated meals after canceling wedding

A Chicago couple who canceled their wedding reception due to the coronavirus pandemic instead used their nonrefundable catering deposit to buy 200 Thanksgiving dinners for people struggling with mental illness, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

a group of people sitting at a table with plates of food: holiday dinner, talking about politics at a family gathering, talking about politics with family

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holiday dinner, talking about politics at a family gathering, talking about politics with family

Clients of Thresholds, the nonprofit where Emily Bugg works as an outreach worker, received boxed dinners from caterer Big Delicious Planet after Bugg and her husband Billy Lewis opted for a City Hall wedding.

“This just seemed like a good way to make the best of a bad situation,” Bugg told the Post.

The couple, who were engaged in July 2019, pared back their wedding plans several times before finally canceling it altogether and opting for a civil ceremony on Oct. 1.

“We had come to a place where we had some big decisions to make,” Lewis told the newspaper. “We decided to just go ahead and get on with our lives.”

Jane Himmel, owner of Chicago’s Jane Himmel Weddings and Special Events, told the Post she anticipates similar attempts to give back as the pandemic disrupts more nuptial plans.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, it was just total chaos. But as it stretched on, people started adjusting to reality,” she said. “There’s been a mind shift. Couples want to turn lemons into lemonade.”

Thresholds CEO Mark Ishaug said the donation came at a time when the pandemic has severely cut into the nonprofit’s services, harming fundraising and forcing it to cancel the group’s communal dinners. Ishaug said he’s hopeful a high-profile act of charity like this one could spur “copycat activities,” particularly around the Thanksgiving season.

“We hope they can still feel the warmth of knowing that we care about them,” he told the Post. “These small moments of connection are what’s keeping us going during these difficult months.”

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U.S. women’s captain Kendall Coyne Schofield joins Chicago Blackhawks as player development coach

The Chicago Blackhawks hired U.S. women’s national team captain Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach and promoted Meghan Hunter, previously general manager Stan Bowman’s executive assistant, to director of hockey administration and amateur scout, the team announced on Monday.

The news comes 10 days after Kim Ng was named general manager of MLB’s Miami Marlins, becoming the first female GM of a major men’s professional sports team in North America. The Blackhawks now have three women working in their hockey operations department, as Mary DeBartolo, a coordinator in hockey analytics, was hired last year.

Coyne Schofield told ESPN it would be “a dream come true” to become an NHL GM one day, while Bowman said DeBartolo and Hunter both have aspirations of climbing the ranks in an NHL front office.

“It’s long overdue in my mind,” Bowman said. “It’s something that’s important to me. These three women are good hockey minds and it’s important to give them chances to take on bigger roles over the coming years.”

Asked why women traditionally have not been represented in hockey operations departments, Bowman said: “I don’t think there was ever a conscious movement to deny women, at least that wasn’t my experience. But I also don’t think there was as much emphasis on seeking out how they can help. I think too much of the same is not really helpful. There’s plenty of great former players and men who could contribute, but these women bring something different to the table — different perspective, different experience — and that’s why I think it’s long overdue.”

Coyne Schofield, 28, who is still an active player, has a dual role with the Blackhawks. She will also serve as a youth hockey growth specialist, continuing to lead her all-girls youth program, the Golden Coynes.

Coyne Schofield, who first interned with the Blackhawks communications department while studying at Northeastern University, has dabbled in several career paths in hockey, including doing color commentary for San Jose Sharks games last season. She will give up the Sharks gig this season due to her commitment with the Blackhawks but will continue to work Notre Dame games for NBC this season. She has yet to talk with NBC about her role on national NHL broadcasts going forward.

As a player development coach, Coyne Schofield will develop relationships with Chicago’s prospects, who are scattered all over the world. According to assistant GM Mark Eaton, Coyne Schofield’s responsibilities will include providing scouting reports, breaking down film, conducting virtual video sessions with the prospects and being on the ice in Rockford, Illinois, for practices with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate.

“Knowing there are going to be people watching me on the ice, and seeing a woman in a coaching role, just shows what’s possible for the next generation,” Coyne Schofield said. “That’s what excites me.”

Eaton said the fact that Coyne Schofield is still going through the rigors of competing at an elite level will allow her to relate to prospects, while also giving

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Chicago program adds social equity to holiday shopping list

Putting a social justice twist on Black Friday shopping promotions, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and community partners have started a campaign to encourage Chicagoans to support Black-owned businesses.

Called Black Shop Friday, the initiative will feature a website listing more than 500 businesses, with the Illinois Lottery donating digital advertising to get the word out. The Chicago Urban League and ad agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul are among those helping the effort.

“It’s not just about one day,” said Karen Freeman-Wilson, president and CEO of the Urban League, referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving that by tradition marks the start of holiday shopping. “This will continue beyond the holiday into 2021.”

She said that by encouraging consumers to support Black-owned businesses, she hopes to chip away at the disadvantages research shows they face, such as poor access to capital. Freeman-Wilson said Black-owned businesses, which are concentrated in services, were hit especially hard by shutdowns earlier in the pandemic and by recent outbreaks of looting.

Milton Latrell, owner of the custom clothier Agriculture at 67 W. Chicago Ave., said he hopes the program can generate foot traffic. “Businesses need an opportunity to offer their services and experiences. Since COVID-19, the only way to separate yourself as a business is to offer excellent customer service,” he said.

Latrell said his store was looted Aug. 10 and business is down significantly because buying habits have changed. “What Mayor Lightfoot is doing — this is so cool to be a part of this,” he said. “We want the chance to show everyone who walks through the door that they’re appreciated.”

The Urban League is completing new research on the financial state of Black-owned firms and hopes the Black Shop Friday program will register in the results, Freeman-Wilson said. She said she hopes to publish the findings in the first quarter of 2021.

The website,, is due to go live Tuesday with more than 500 businesses listed. Freeman-Wilson said Black-owned businesses that wish to be listed should email Jason Johnson, the league’s director of entrepreneurship, at [email protected]

The O’Keefe firm created the Black Shop Friday campaign and enlisted ad agency Geletka+ for website design. Others volunteering work for the campaign include the Edelman public relations firm. It’s part of an effort run by Michael Fassnacht, an ad agency veteran tapped as the city’s $1-a-year chief marketing officer. He’s devising ways to encourage commerce in Chicago despite the pandemic.

“This inspiring partnership allows Chicagoans to discover the hundreds of Black-owned businesses in our city, driving the investment dollars that are needed now more than ever, and giving everyone a chance to make this new shopping holiday a huge success,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

Milton Latrell, left, and Christopher Brackenridge sell men’s fashion accessories at their store, Agriculture, a custom clothier in the Near North neighborhood.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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Chicago fashion designer finds new life in passion and perseverance

CHICAGO For Stevie Edwards, fashion design has been a career and lifestyle for more than three decades.

Edwards has dressed stars such as Diana Ross, Jody Watley and Tiffany Haddish. In recent months however, Edwards’ creations have exploded onto the fashion scene, proving that passion and perseverance can always pay off.

With several designs from Edwards now being featured in Vogue, history is being made.

“I mean Vogue is like winning an Oscar, it’s like everyone’s dream if you are a fashion designer. You dream of having your clothes displayed in a major fashion magazine,” Edwards said.

Vogue magazine is labeling Stevie Edwards as the new “it” designer. His Edwards clothing collection is featured in the October issue, making him the first Black Chicago fashion designer to grace the pages of Vogue.

For Edwards, he can’t believe what he sees.

“Nationally it hasn’t really been done since the ’80’s designers such as Willie Smith and Patrick Kelly, they were dominating the fashion press back in the day but no Black designer is dominating the press now,” Edwards said.

It seems Edwards is well on his way to that level of recognition. In addition to Vogue, Edwards was profiled in Women’s Wear Daily earlier this fall.

“The Women’s Wear Daily I got a huge editorial write-up in that, and that was ‘IT’ for me, that was bigger than Vogue for me,” Edwards said.

As more publicity comes his way, Edwards wonders why the newfound fame is happening right now, following more than 30 years in the industry.

Superstar Diana Ross was one of Edwards’ first clients, and he’s been designing for celebrities ever since, maintaining a steady clientele.

Singer-songwriter Terisa Griffin said she wears Edwards’ clothes often while performing.

“I wear him often on stage, several pictures in Stevie’s outfits. He’s always been innovative,” Griffin said.

Edwards was born and raised in Chicago, attending Dunbar High School where he first caught the fashion bug. But it wasn’t until a college fashion show that Edwards realized fashion was his calling.

His designs caught the eye of fashion icon and businesswoman Eunice Johnson. Johnson, who founded Ebony Fashion Fair had purchased some of Edwards’ gowns for her international show.

He credits Johnson for not only discovering him, but for supplying his motivation.

“My things are just different, unique, sexy and I also do men’s clothes so, it’s just trendy. I’m a trendsetter. I like setting new trends,” Edwards said.

Edwards said he prefers working one-on-one with each of his clients, hand-picking the fabric before cutting and sewing it himself. With recent publicity, Edwards has been able to create a new clothing line.

“My logo collection, Stevie Edwards as you see my name and I patented and trademarked the fabric so I own it,” Edwards said.

Edwards believes the key to success is being passionate about what you do.

“I’ll get up at 2 in the morning and I’ll make an outfit. I love what I do, I never get bored, never get

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Chicago revamps quarantine order, Biden shrugs Trump’s refusal to concede and a 2020 holiday gift guide

Good morning, Chicago. Illinois public health officials on Tuesday reported 12,623 new cases of the coronavirus and 79 additional deaths, as the state passed another bench mark: more than 500,000 total known cases for the outbreak. Here’s a look at how to understand this grim milestone in 5 charts.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in both Illinois and the country, we are also quickly approaching the holiday season. Are you wondering if you should get tested before your Thanksgiving gathering? Here’s what the experts say.

Here’s more coronavirus news and other top stories you need to know to start your day.

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Michigan added to Chicago’s revamped travel order — with new exceptions for travelers to avoid quarantine

Four months after the city rolled out a mandatory travel quarantine order, officials revamped it Tuesday to a color-coded tiered list in an acknowledgment that most states it wants to restrict movement from are faring the same or better than Chicago in terms of coronavirus rates.

The new travel quarantine system that goes into effect Friday in Chicago also will impose mitigation steps for travelers returning from Michigan, making it the final Midwestern state added to the order as the region grapples with a grueling autumn wave of the virus. Though the fines for someone caught violating the quarantine order are potentially hefty, officials have not announced rigorous enforcement measures to ensure travelers abide by the mandatory two-week quarantine rule.

Chicago’s travel quarantine list now rates states yellow, orange or red. Here’s what you need to know to avoid a large fine.

Biden shrugs off Trump’s refusal to accept election results as ‘inconsequential’ and ‘embarrassing’

Vowing “to get right to work,” President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday shrugged off President Donald Trump’s fierce refusal to accept the election outcome as “inconsequential,” even as Democrats elsewhere warned that the Republican president’s actions were dangerous.

Election officials nationwide from both parties find no evidence of fraud

Rep. Lauren Underwood’s narrow lead over Republican challenger Jim Oberweis widens slightly, but more votes to be counted

Rep. Lauren Underwood’s lead over Republican challenger Jim Oberweis grew slightly but remained razor-thin as counting continued in a race that will determine whether she will get a second term after flipping the sprawling, suburban 14th District for Democrats two years ago.

Chicago alderman calls for crackdown on COVID-19 ‘superspreader’ hotel parties

With Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker cracking down on restaurants and bars around Chicago to try to stop coronavirus spread, aldermen argued Tuesday that large, unregulated parties in hotels and vacation rentals are increasingly causing trouble during this phase of the pandemic.

Holiday gift guide 2020: Gift giving is not canceled

This year has taken many things from us — birthday celebrations, live concerts and simply hugging the people we love. But COVID-19 cannot take our holiday season. The Tribune staff has gathered lists of the best gifts for

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Democratic fundraiser, “woman warrior’’ Linda Rae Sher, from Chicago, dies at 74: Major fundraiser for Joe Biden

Funeral services are planned Tuesday for Linda Rae Sher, who in 1980 founded JACPAC, a political action committee based in Highland Park that was the first national Jewish women’s PAC.

Ms. Sher — who was a major fundraiser for President-elect Joe Biden and other Democrats — died Sunday of complications from ovarian cancer, according to her friend Marcia Balonick, JACPAC’s executive director.

Ms. Sher was 73 and lived on the Gold Coast.

Ms. Sher and JACPAC — the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs — were well-known among Democratic Party leaders in Washington.

“Linda Sher lit up every room she entered with her personality and her intellect,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said. “She glowed most when she talked about her family.”

Linda Rae Sher and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Linda Rae Sher and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said: “I first met Linda Sher when I ran for Congress in 1982. Linda arrived at my door like an energy source ready to explode. She told me she was from JACPAC and wanted to help me win. She proceeded to stand by me in every re-election.”

“We’re all fortunate for Linda’s selfless work for and dedication to JACPAC,” U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, said. “And Democrats across the country and the positive results we’ve seen not just last week but over many years are due in no small part to her unrelenting efforts.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said: “Linda was my good friend and a mentor who warmly welcomed me into her group of women warriors, and she taught me so many life lessons over the years. She was as tough as she was kind and the person who you always wanted on your side in a fight for justice.”

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Illinois, whose district includes Highland Park, said Sher’s “leadership with JACPAC was an inspiration in getting me to run for office, and she was an invaluable resource throughout my political career.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, said Sher was her “go to person for politics” and “one of the smartest political operatives I ever knew.”

JACPAC built a reputation for spotting contenders, especially women, early in their political careers and offering them crucial backing. It also was one of the first political action committees focused on helping candidates who supported reproductive choice, the separation of church and state, U.S.–Israel relations and gun control.

The organization worked off the theory that “you reach someone early, you find these people, get in,” and, even if the contribution was modest, “you got in when no one else knew who they were,” Balonick said.

“We worked for women candidates because women had a hard time raising money. … They remembered us because we came in when no one else was.”

Ms. Sher “was one of the smartest women I knew,” Balonick said.

She grew up Linda Rae Rosen in Skokie, where she attended Cleveland elementary school and Oakview Junior High.

She devoured every Nancy Drew mystery and “was a voracious reader,” her sister

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Two young Black women Chicago activists are at the center of the new documentary ‘Unapologetic’

CHICAGO — When filmmaker Ashley O’Shay began work on her documentary “Unapologetic,” two Chicago police killings were at the forefront of efforts for accountability and reform: That of Rekia Boyd, the 22-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot in the back of the head by Dante Servin, an off-duty police detective, and Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old Black teenager who was shot and killed by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

The lives and work of two young Black women activists, Janaé Bonsu and Ambrell Gambrell (who raps under the name Bella Bahhs), are at the center of “Unapologetic,” which has its Chicago premiere this week and will be available to stream through Nov. 20 as part of the Siskel Film Center’s all-virtual edition of its annual Black Harvest Film Festival.

The documentary’s opening scene is a tremendous piece of observational filmwork and journalism, as it follows a group of Black activists into Chicago-area brunch spots that are filled with white diners. “While you are here celebrating over brunch, Black families are struggling to keep themselves safe from CPD,” they chant.

Every white person looks uncomfortable. One is barely stifling an embarrassed smirk. Another has guilty tears in her eyes. Others just look on impassively and unmoved.

“They went to about five or six restaurants in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on New Year’s Day in 2016. And they went in for about 10 or 15 minutes at a time,” said O’Shay. “Because of the way equity and segregation are set up in our city, you can live on the North Side and be completely oblivious to something like that, when on the other side of town it’s all people are being confronted with.”

Eventually the police are called. A restaurant employee wearing an elf sweater tells an officer: “This guy right here was real sarcastic with me, this lady as well, as I was trying to get them out of here, so they just disrupted the brunch of about 200 people.” Later he asks, “What is this helping, though?” An activist off-camera recipes, “We think it’s very important.” The employee’s response: “Really, to disrupt everyone’s brunch? No, we all have TV. We watch the news.”

It’s a moment that encapsulates the white apathy activists like Bonsu and Bahhs are pushing back against. As the film illustrates, the Movement for Black Lives has been building for years on their work and the work of many others.

For example, O’Shay captures footage of a Chicago Police Board meeting — where Lori Lightfoot presides in the years before she became mayor — as activists push for Servin to be fired. (He would eventually resign before that hearing process could begin, which meant his pension was unaffected.)

“Those police board meetings, when young Black organizers went to try to actively get Dante Servin off the police force, nobody was going to those before 2015. As much as people think that this (the protests of the past several months) kind of came out of

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Pitcher Jon Lester’s farewell gift to Chicago Cubs fans: $43,000 in beer

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2016, file photo, Chicago Cubs starter Jon Lester throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago. Kris Bryant is back. Same for Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester, too. Even 1908 is back in the picture. That was the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series before Bryant and company ended the drought last November. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Pitcher Jon Lester’s contract expired, so he gave Chicago Cubs fans a farewell gift: suds galore. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

The modern athlete bids farewell on social media, with a few kind thoughts on Twitter or Instagram. That wouldn’t quite do for pitcher Jon Lester.

The Chicago Cubs signed Lester as one of the final pieces to a championship puzzle. In 2016, the second year of his $155-million contract, Lester helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series championship in 108 years.

That contract now has expired. On Friday, Lester toasted the Cubs fans: Enjoy a beer on me.

Lester listed four Chicago bars and said the first Miller Lite over the weekend would be on him. Each morning, he posted the previous night’s receipts.

He picked up the tab for 4,838 beers — and, in a nod to his uniform number, he tipped 34%.

The grand total was more than $43,000.

A Chicago bar Lester did not include in his offer got in on the celebration anyway, selling Miller Lite to raise funds for Lester’s favorite charity.

On Halloween weekend, Lester put Chicago in a good holiday mood.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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Pitcher Jon Lester’s farewell gift to Chicago Cubs fans: $15,000 in beer

The modern athlete bids farewell on social media, with a few kind thoughts on Twitter or Instagram. That wouldn’t quite do for pitcher Jon Lester.

a close up of a man in a baseball uniform throwing a ball: Pitcher Jon Lester's contract expired, so he gave Chicago Cubs fans a farewell gift: suds galore. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

© (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)
Pitcher Jon Lester’s contract expired, so he gave Chicago Cubs fans a farewell gift: suds galore. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

The Chicago Cubs signed Lester as one of the final pieces to a championship puzzle. In 2016, the second year of his $155-million contract, Lester helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series championship in 108 years.

That contract now has expired. On Friday, Lester toasted the Cubs fans: Enjoy a beer on me.

Lester listed four Chicago bars and said the first Miller Lite over the weekend would be on him. On Monday morning, he posted the receipts.

He picked up the tab for 4,838 beers — and, in a nod to his uniform number, he tipped 34%.

The grand total: $14,504.92.

A Chicago bar Lester did not include in his offer got in on the celebration anyway, selling Miller Lites to raise funds for Lester’s favorite charity.

On Halloween weekend, Lester put Chicago in a good holiday mood.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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