Nonprofit behind Merrionette Park fundraiser for first responders, families


COOK COUNTY, Ill. — At 115 Bourbon Street, locals will find a party celebrating emergency workers Thursday evening.

Merrionette Park is hosting First Responder Night with several purpose-oriented organizations uniting to help city and suburban emergency response workers and their families. Moreover, the festivities aim to help anyone in need on a variety of levels. 

Erin Krupa is with The Yard Foundation

“The Yard Foundation is a group of four individuals who came together, all centered around the fire service,” Krupa said.

Krupa, alongside her brother, John McClement is a Blue Island firefighter who helped conceive the foundation. 

Their motto: “It feels good to do good.” 

“Our primary base is firefighters and first responders and so when a firefighter loses a battle, or they’re facing a challenge such as a terminal illness or cancer, or they need something in their family, they start to DM us with their stories,” Krupa said. “Then we decide how much money or how we’re going to raise funds for it. Are we going to do a benefit like tonight or just do a post on Facebook and see what comes of it.”

The 100 Club of Illinois helps provides money to families of first responders who die in the line of duty. The Yard Foundation also strives to help in big and small ways, such as buying Christmas gifts for kids in area clinics fighting cancer or a cause struggling to get donations. 

“It’s like a secret smile. We like to do it and not have this great big recognition,” said The Yard Foundation’s Amy Reed. “We kind of gauge it. If a GoFundMe isn’t doing great in 24 hours, 48 hours, then we try.” 

Added Krupa: “It’s amazing to see it pick up and see pieces of it come together.”

Project Fire Buddies, pediatric cancer-based organizations and Chicago’s Bravest Stories podcast will all attend. The Southside fundraiser starts at 7 p.m. and lasts through 10 p.m.

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