Mike Carmody, the executive director of Opportunity Knocks, taking a check from Katrina Jeffries, of the OPRF High School Alumni Association.

The Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association recently made the biggest donation in its history to a local organization, OPRF officials announced on Dec. 1. 

The association donated $10,000 to River Forest-based nonprofit Opportunity Knocks, which serves young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park by teaching them life skills. 

Mike Carmody, the nonprofit’s executive director, said the grant came “on the heels of us realizing some other significant fundraising shortfalls due to pandemic-related challenges.” 

He added that the nonprofit’s programming platform “has become more demanding than ever with new technology and PPE investments needed to ensure our virtual and onsite program formats are safe and fully accessible.” 

Since 2003, the association has been awarding grants to OPRF students for summer enrichment programs. With that summer programming cancelled last school year and unlikely to happen in summer 2021 due to COVID-19, the association decided to change how they distribute the funds. 

Therese Brennock, an association board member, suggested that the group present a one-time donation to Opportunity Knocks. 

“I received a call from a former OPRF student, Katrina Jeffries, right after our fall alumni board meeting,” said Brennock. “Katrina has participated in Opportunity Knocks programming for several years and told me that [they] really needed donations due to fundraising event cancellations.”

Brennock said the more she thought about it, “the more a donation to Opportunity Knocks made complete sense,” said Brennock. “It is run by OPRF alumni, they employ alumni and the majority of students they serve are alumni from the TEAM/CITE program [at OPRF], and they also have an enormous alumni following.”

Brennock’s colleagues at the association agreed with the idea, initially deciding to donate $5,000. But that quickly doubled to $10,000 by the end of the group’s monthly meeting. 

“The momentum was unbelievable,” Brennock said. “I think [board members] were so touched when they heard about Katrina’s [desire] to help the organization that is near and dear to her heart.”

To learn more about the Oak Park and River Forest High School Alumni Association, visit: https://www.oprfhs.org/alumni/index.  

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