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, President, Board of Directors
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.
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.
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 wherever she is home from veterinary school.
Katie Gentry has a BS in Biology from UW-Madison and is finishing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Michigan State University.
Pam Fisher, Board of Directors, 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.
James Oberheide, Board of Directors
James joined the board of directors in 2017 and is active with various facets of the Roberti Community House including Roberti Culinary Pathway management and fundraising activities.
James Oberheide is a Managing Director and Private Wealth Advisor with over two decades of experience in the financial services industry. James leads The Oberheide Group at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, a team of wealth management professionals that advise affluent families and charities on managing significant assets. James has been highlighted in Barron’s, Forbes and Financial Times as a leading investment advisor dating back to 2011. Prior to founding the Oberheide Group in 2007, he was a Principal and Senior Advisor with Bernstein Global Wealth Management for 14 years advising wealthy families, organizations and their consultants. He also managed relationships with the financial service industry through the OneSource Division of Lotus Development Corp, Dialog Information Services and Dun & Bradstreet.
Jim also serves as an advisory board member at Maryville Academy and was an active board member for many years with Chicago Child Care Society, reflecting his support for two of the oldest non-profit child welfare agencies in the State of Illinois.