On Sunday, April 14, Evanston friends and neighbors pulled together with pulled pork to change young lives.
For the sixth year in a row, the Fies family from Evanston hosted their pulled pork fundraiser. According to Andy Fies, who with his wife, Jean, and their three children, spearhead the fundraiser, it was the most successful event yet.
“We raised $8,000 this year,” he said. “Last year, we raised $6,000.”
The funds raised go toward providing summer programs for children at YWCA Evanston/North Shore who are living in temporary housing for families affected by domestic violence.
Jean Fies conceived the pulled pork event several years ago while volunteering at YWCA’s emergency shelter during the summer. She saw that children who were staying there spent much of their time indoors.
“Their families didn’t have the means to provide activities many other local children enjoy in the summer,” she said. “I wanted a way we could give these kids a chance at summer fun and also help their mothers who were living under stressful circumstances.”
She added, “My husband is an Alabama native raised on Southern barbecue and he enjoys cooking barbecue almost as much as eating it. So that was what we used as our way to generate donations.”
This year, the Fies family smoked 295 pounds of pork and sold 670 sandwiches at Curt’s Café, which is located on Central Street in northwest Evanston.
Sandwiches were pre-ordered so the family knew who would be coming in to pick up their orders.
“When one gentleman we didn’t recognize came in for coffee, he learned that something else was being served at Curt’s Café on Sunday: a good cause,” said Andy Fies. “Without fanfare, he donated over $1,000 and left before anyone knew who he was or what he’d done. He found out we were helping children and that meant something to him.
“This was astounding both for how much he gave and the way it was done. We were all moved by his generosity.”
Andy and Jean Fies emphasized that the event would not be possible without a committed group of friends who gathered to pull the pork and helped assemble and sell sandwiches at Curt’s Café, which gives up its space one Sunday each year for this fundraiser.
Additional support for this event was provided by Mark Vend Co., Al’s Meats, and Pioneer Wholesale Meat.