Local Women Find Purpose Through Helping Others

A Broad Cross-Section of the Community Benefits from Charities Providing Services, Resources and Funding.

Article by Michael Beightol

Photography by Linda Barrett, Michael Beightol, Stephen Neilson

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

In Long Grove Rae of Sunshine Foundation was founded by Callen and Dan Migacz in honor of their daughter, Raegan Lee, who passed away just a few days after she was born. In week 39 of her pregnancy Callen had an emergency C-section due to a tear in her placenta. Raegan lived only for a few days due to damage in her internal organs.

“I was in shock,” Callen recalled. “Everything had been going so well up until the end.” Generous donations from a Go Fund Me campaign were applied to a not-for-profit to provide support and assistance to other families. The foundation engages in two annual fund-raising events – a golf outing and family picnic – to provide the resources to build memorial gardens for families who have lost a child under similar circumstances. Callen’s husband, Dan, is the CFO of A.M. Woodland Outdoor Design, a contracting company in Lake County, Southeast Wisconsin and Colorado. The foundation works with families to create a design for a memorial garden, and the company provides the materials and installation.

“I was so consumed by my grief that I faced a decision,” Callen said. “Would I let the grief control me, or could I use it for something good by keeping the memory of my daughter alive by helping others?”

Callen gives her husband credit for launching the foundation. “Anybody who knows Dan knows he’s a go-getter,” Callen said. “At first the grief was so overwhelming I wasn’t sure if this was the right thing for us to do. I am so glad that he kept us moving forward with the belief that we could do something for other families facing the same thing we are.”

Raegan’s Memorial Garden is in a sunny wooded area not far from the Migazc home. It’s a simple but spacious site with heritage oaks. Even on an April day the garden with a bench overlooking plantings and a flat stone memorializing their little girl is a contemplative spot. Callen visits frequently, often with just the family dog who enjoys carefree romps. “I like to go there to sit alone and remember Raegan,” Callen said. “It’s nice for me to just be alone in my thoughts about her.”

The foundation’s second annual golf outing is May 30 at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. For more information, and to learn about registration and sponsorship availabilities, go to

Let It Be Us is a nonprofit organization, and a licensed child welfare agency, based in Barrington with a mission to provide support for children in the foster care system and to facilitate the placement process.

The organization was founded in 2014 by Susan McConnell, an adoptive parent, who recognized the need for additional resources to assist both children and families in the foster care system.

Let It Be Us offers a variety of programs and services to support children in foster care, including a Placement Support Program, focusing on traditional and special needs, and a Springboard to Adulthood Program that focuses on placement and support for teens in foster care, including those young people about to age out of the system.

The charity also partners with Illinois DCFS, other agencies, community organizations, and nonprofits to advocate for policies and programs that benefit children in foster care and promote positive change in the child welfare system.

“The children and teens we serve are the most vulnerable,” McConnell says. “When we provide them with a family, we give them opportunities to have beautiful lifetime outcomes.”

Learn more at

In Wauconda, STAR Charities was founded by Linda Starkey and her husband’s company, Progressive Components. “STAR,” which stands for Sharing Time and Resources, was registered as a charitable foundation in 2003 and is a volunteer-run organization.

STAR Charities has reached over $1,000,000 in top-line revenues since its founding. Throughout the year, STAR hosts and sponsors many events such as food drives, Shamrock the Block, Turkey Trot, Bunny Hop, a coat drive and more.

STAR funding helps to provide much-needed food, clothing and other necessities to those less fortunate by working with local food pantries and schools. STAR also donates to local organizations such as Friends of Bangs Lake and the Wauconda Township Historical Society.

The list of other organizations receiving donations from STAR is extensive, and includes Ronald McDonald House of Chicago and Northwest Indiana, Amina Grace Memorial Fund, Nicasa Behavioral Health Services, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Riddick's Ride, Heartland Animal Shelter, Canine Companions for Independence and Rebuilding Together. Learn more at

Other notable charities and nonprofit organizations founded by or run by local women include:

Shane's Foundation, founded by Lisa Siefert from Barrington Hills in honor of her son Shane, who passed away at the age of two from injuries sustained when a dresser fell on him. The organization's mission is to raise awareness about furniture tip-over accidents and to support families affected by this preventable tragedy. Learn more at

Since 2010, Barrington Children’s Charities, founded by the family of Darby Hills, has been a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to positively impacting the lives of children. The charity has funded more than $1.4 million in basic medical, nutritional, and social services for children within Barrington School District 220. These basic services were unavailable due to economic constraints within the children’s family unit. Learn more at

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