Bill and the Celebrity Chef Ball Committee (circa 1997)

“When Mayor Daley asked you to do something, you did it.” -Bill Kaplan

As part of our continuing series The 30 Faces of Meals on Wheels Chicago, we spoke with Bill Kaplan, CEO, Senior Lifestyle Corporation, about the early days of MOWC and the Celebrity Chef Ball.

“When Mayor Daley asked you to do something, you did it.  In 1995, the mayor and the Commissioner of the Department of Aging, Don Smith, asked me to build affordable senior housing in Chicago. We ended up building 24 senior communities.”

“Commissioner Smith then asked me to join the board of Meals on Wheels Chicago. I was building my company and raising a family, but I knew how housebound seniors and people with disabilities depended on home-delivered meals.  Over the years, I was a board member, treasurer, vice president, and president (twice).  It was that important to me.”

“Meals on Wheels Chicago was not just a charity I supported, it became part of my family. When the kids were small, I used to take them to deliver Thanksgiving meals.  We went to some pretty rough neighborhoods, but it meant a lot to the people who were housebound to receive a holiday meal, especially from a child.  My kids learned that not everyone had the same advantages that they did.  That was a life lesson for them. When my son became an adult, he ran the Texas Hold ‘em event which raised tens of thousands of dollars for Meals on Wheels Chicago to provide meals for the people he met as a child.”

“At its center, Meals on Wheels Chicago is about generations supporting those which came before.  It has been that way for thirty-years, and it will be that way for the next thirty.”

Thank you Bill for your early vision and sharing your story.  Please save the date for our 30th Annual Celebrity Chef Ball, Novembere 9, 2018, at Morgan Manufacturing.