2011 has been a great year for us at the Ranch! Here are a few reasons why:

5. “Harmony, Hope, and Humanity” a cabaret fundraiser to benefit disaster relief for Japan.

When the disastrous earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan in March, we (like many others) felt compelled to find a way to help. With ten days to plan, we were able to gather some of the top Asian Pacific American talent in Chicago to perform a fundraiser to benefit the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund for Japan. Taking the stage were Joseph Anthony Foronda, Christine Bunuan, Emily Morales, Erik Kaiko, Jillian Jocson, Chelsea Dolinar-Hikawa, and Keith Uchima; the performance was directed by yours truly and music directed by Jaclyn Rada. With the generous donation of our event sponsors (especially Big Delicious Planet) and the 150+ people that attended, we were able to raise $5400 for the disaster relief fund!

4. Project Music

Every year we are proud to host the Project Music fundraiser to benefit the kids at LYDIA Home, an organization that provides hope and support to children and families in need. Project Music is an amazing event that brings in top music performers (this year’s featured act was bluesman Sugar Blue) to raise money to send forty kids in need to overnight camp.

3. Social Media Week panel.

The global event Social Media Week finally hit Chicago and we wanted in on the action. We hosted a panel about how the next generation is using social media. I moderated a great discussion led by social media pros Mark J. Carter, Tim McDonald, Sue Koch with next gen panelists Staci Diamond, Neal Ryan Shaw, James Coston and Rebecca Dickson.

2. Meet Our Ranch Hands (in verse)

Our Operations Manager John Leen gives a fun and whimsical introduction to some of the friendly faces you might encounter at the Ranch.

1. Illinois’ first legal same-sex civil union happen at the Ranch with “Under a New Moon!”

Our country is taking huge strides in civil rights. It might be a bit slow for some, but the times are a-changing and hopefully for the better. When the state of Illinois announced the passing of legislature that would legally recognize same-sex civil unions, we were thrilled beyond belief to be able to be among the first to celebrate. Partnering with Life Cycle Celebrant Anita Vaughan, SQN Events, Jeremy Lawson Photography and so many generous sponsors, we were blessed to be able to give six lucky gay and lesbian couples a the ceremony and reception of their dreams!

It’s been a great year for us here at the Ranch and we can only hope for much more in 2012! Hope everyone has a great and safe holiday season. Happy New Year!

Post written by Danny Bernardo