Our Story

Born out of passion and commitment, Roberti Community House (RCH) has become a key gathering place for those residing in a distressed neighborhood of Waukegan.   While a volunteer at the Holy Family Food Pantry, Maribeth Roberti recognized the need for sufficient space where all members of the community could come together to share their stories, support one another, and learn together.  In 2010 she purchased a run-down former gang house that was in foreclosure – renovated it with help and in-kind donations from a myriad of generous local contractors – and thus brought life to RCH – a safe and welcoming haven for neighbors of all ages.

Since opening its doors in 2011, RCH has remained firmly committed to its mission: to nourish, educate and empower community members so that they can acknowledge, appreciate and actualize their individual strengths and talents.


A large kitchen is the heart of RCH and here neighbors are nourished both literally (sharing delicious seasonal meals) and figuratively (receiving kindness, support and understanding from others).  Educating and empowering community members as well as actualizing individual strengths and talents can be evidenced in the continually evolving nature of RCH and its programming.  New programs are always emerging from the needs and ideas suggested by neighbors and volunteers – their active involvement and collaboration have ensured the success of RCH’s many endeavors.  These include, but are not limited to, gardening, cooking, sewing, English classes, yoga, drumming, after-school support and summer activities.
Neighbors have truly made the community house their own – they not only participate in programs, they now help facilitate programs; they take great pride in assisting with and caring for the house and its yard; and RCH has become a major gathering place for community celebrations both large and small.  The growth of RCH is due in large part to the amazing individuals who volunteer their time and talent to the wide variety of programs offered by the community house.  And whether cooking in the kitchen, tending to the garden, being a member of the walking club, participating in yoga, or drumming in a circle there is always a strong emphasis on wellness and individual well being.

Roberti Community House collaborates with Waukegan’s many community and government organizations – its schools and universities, police, churches, hospitals, health organizations, and the forest preserve – in order to ensure that services are not duplicated and to further enhance the lives of everyone in the area.

Over time, and nurtured through trust, RCH has helped neighbors have hope in a better future and be able to develop strategies where dreams can become real possibilities.  Therefore, in an effort to combat the poverty that is indigenous to this area, and to provide an opportunity for individuals to adequately care for themselves and their families, RCH recently purchased a second house in the neighborhood, renovated it, and is now providing a free on-going culinary training program.  Participation in the Roberti Culinary Pathway will enable the unemployed and under-employed to secure successful jobs in the food service industry.

Both the culinary training program and the community house strive to offer a place for our neighbors to feel recognized and valued. We will continue to listen to their needs and desires to offer a caring environment.

Roberti Community House and Roberti Culinary Pathway does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender,  age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.


The mission of Roberti Community House is to

nourish, educate and empower community members

so that they can acknowledge, appreciate and actualize

their individual strengths and talents.


 Maribeth Roberti, Founder and President

Maribeth Roberti recognized the need for, and consequently developed, a community house in Waukegan, Illinois in order to serve the community’s most vulnerable population. Roberti Community House (RCH) was purchased in 2010, extensively rehabbed, and opened its doors to the community in late 2011.  Maribeth serves as the Executive Director and manages/oversees all aspects of the community house, i.e., program development, fundraising, volunteer recruitment and training, and networking with community based agencies.

Maribeth began her professional work as a social worker.  She received her BS in Criminal Justice from San Diego State University.  She soon went on to obtain a Master’s of Social Work degree from the University of Chicago and  graduated in 1988. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Maribeth was a school social worker at Glenbrook North High School, Glenbrook South, and off campus with District 225.  Her work in child welfare encompassed positions at Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois as well as Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network.  In addition, she provided both Foster Parent and Surrogate Parent training through Harold Washington College.

While never giving up her passion for helping people, Maribeth worked in a family related business, MPC Product Corporation, in Skokie, Illinois for a number of years where she served as Assistant to the Executive Director and honed her administrative skills.   Involved with project management, she was responsible for contract negotiations.

In addition to her position as Executive Director of RCH (a non-salaried role), Maribeth also serves as Program Administrator for the Concorde Center in Woodstock, Illinois, where her responsibilities include hiring and training personnel, managing budgets, and overseeing farm property leases.

Pam Fisher, Board Chair, Youth Program Director, Volunteer Coordinator

Pam first began as a volunteer at Roberti Community House in 2013. Upon understanding the importance of the connections made in the Afterschool Program, she took a greater role and eventually became the first Youth Program Director. Hoping to expand RCH’s impact on our community children, Pam developed our Summer Reading & Math Camp. As Pam’s involvement grew, so did her duties, taking charge of volunteer management and teen volunteer recruitment. Pam joined the Board of Directors in 2017 as the RCH mission expanded to include the Roberti Culinary Pathway, yet another opportunity to help our community feel valued and recognized.

Pam holds a BS in Accounting from DePaul University, but feels her two kids are her greatest achievement.


Edgar Navarro, Board of Directors

Commander Navarro joined the Board of Directors of Roberti Community House in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, April 2020.  Edgar is a commander with the Waukegan Police Department and oversees the operations for the Gang Intelligence Unit (GIU) and has over 22 years of law enforcement experience. Edgar has led a very successful career in law enforcement, not only in his current role but as a Detective, a lead investigator, as well as in an undercover capacity   His bilingual skills have been an huge asset to the police department enabling him to connect with the community.

Edgar has been an enormous supporter of RCH since its inception.  He has had a consistent positive presence at RCH and RCP.   He has been an amazing ambassador for RCH and RCP, connecting us with community leaders, and other social agencies. 

Edgar holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Columbia College of Missouri.  He is also a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.


Katie Gentry, Secretary, Board of Directors

Katie Gentry started volunteering at Roberti Community house from its opening in 2011. She has been active in our afterschool programs, the Junior Green Youth Farm and English/Spanish class for many years, as well as an active volunteer in program development. Now, she serves as the secretary and volunteers whenever possible.

Katie Gentry has a BS in Biology from UW-Madison and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University. She is practicing veterinary medicine at Care Animal Hospital in Arlington Heights, IL.

Danish Ismail, Board of Directors

Danish Ismail joined the Board of Directors of Roberti Community House in early 2021. Danish has a background in IT and Operations, having worked in corporate America and run his own business, Synergia Corp. for over 25 years. Danish has been described as a “Perpetual Optimizer,” who is constantly looking to optimize systems, time and funding. He likes the challenge of making things better and enjoys developing systems and processes to reduce costs and sustain growth, such as Roberti Community House is experiencing. He hopes that his contribution will make everyone’s life easier so that staff can focus on helping others.

Danish comes to Roberti Community House with over 25 years of experience working for not-for-profits. He founded The Citizens Foundation, USA – Chicago chapter and has served as a board member of two charities. He enjoys charity work as he sees it as indirectly helping people.

Danish holds a degree in Operation Management from the University of Illinois. He has been a resident of Lake Forest for 23 years.

Kevin Hodges, Treasurer, Board of Directors

Kevin has been a board member of Roberti Community House since inception. He has been involved in the development of both the community house and the Roberti Culinary Pathway training program. As Treasurer, Kevin is involved with budgeting, grant applications, cash flow management and the preparation of internal financial statements. 

Kevin leads the Estate Planning and Administration Group for the accounting and consulting firm Miller Cooper & Co., Ltd. and has more than 25 years of experience providing tax guidance, with an expertise in wealth transfer and succession planning and advising families on foundations and other charitable giving. Prior to joining Miller Cooper, Kevin worked in the Private Client Departments of two Chicago law firms, McDermott Will & Emery LLP and Schiff Hardin LLP.

Kevin earned an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a BS of Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Margie Rodino, Board of Directors

Margie joined the Board of Directors of Roberti Community House in August 2019. Margie has over 30 years human resources experience, from publicly traded to privately-owned firms and from start-ups to large corporations. For the past 20 years, Margie has served as a senior HR leader. She manages all aspects of Human Resources, including compensation, benefits, training & development, employee relations, engagement and culture. She finds passion and satisfaction in facilitating positive change and helping people become their best.

Margie holds a B.S. in Personnel and Industrial Relations from Northern Illinois University. Margie’s strong faith and generous nature align perfectly with Roberti Community House’s mission. She is currently the Co-Founder of a business consulting practice, 2discern inc.


Culinary Advisory Committee

Chef Tom Gescheidle, Smokin T’s BBQ Catering Co.

Garrett Dee

Jorie Alutto


Chef Elizabeth Brown

Janet Sauder

Jan Victor, Victor Consulting Group


Community Advisory Committee

Gina Guadarrama

Gina has lived in the Waukegan area for 16 years and loves coming to the community house with her 9 year old son Angel. As an employee of Roberti Community House, she has gotten to know most of the community members who come to our programs and is in the perfect position to pass along to the board what our neighbors and friends are looking for in a thriving Community House.


Manny Hernandez

Manny Hernandez is the Functional Health Literacy Program Coordinator for the Waukegan Public Library. This program was developed to address the need of the community to gain access to medical services and to eliminate language, low literacy, and sociocultural barriers through education and engagement strategies.

Manny has partnered with Roberti Community House to recruit and train members of the community to become certified Community Health Workers, empowering our community members to deliver culturally sensitive medical information to the people in need.


Maribel Godina

Maribel is extremely grateful to RCH and RCP for expanding and enriching her life over the past few years. She was a stay-at-home mom, volunteering at RCH and the food pantry, and then was hired part-time to help out at both locations and was able to complete the culinary training program. She has a unique view of the community and our participants and we value her input.

Contact Us

The Roberti Community House 
919 8th Street
Waukegan, Illinois 60085
Phone: (847) 623-4221
[email protected]

Follow Us

©2015 Roberti Community House Wordpress All rights reserved.--- Website By: WEBstudio47