The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Community Choices hosts first Great Cake Off for CU community

Anna Fedczuk

The Crystal Lake Park Lake House housed Community Choices’ inaugural Great Cake Off event on Sunday. The festivity was open to the public and showcased baked goods made by those associated with Community Choices and local bakers who entered their creations in the event.

Community Choices is a local group in Champaign-Urbana that supports adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. 

“We help to provide a support service to those people after they leave high school when those services are no longer available to them,” said Jill Brink-Rutter, a board member of Community Choices. “We help provide services for folks to find employment, living situations, skills building, being part of the community and we’ve also added transportation in the last year.”

Community Choices has been alive for over a decade, and many members have seen how the group has grown. 

“I’ve been affiliated with Community Choices for over 10 years now, and I was there when they started,” said Debby Wood, featured baker and board president. “We’re up to 15 staff now, which is great.”

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The Great Cake Off is a new way to bring in funding for the organization after a recognized need for new fundraising events. The idea took off during a brainstorming meeting, with the thought that its uniqueness would bring the community together.

The event boasted over 15 baked goods from those within the Community Choices clique and other contributing bakers, providing a variety of treats for attendees to try and judge. However, despite the desserts being the focal point of the event, the main mission was to bring people together.

“We really focus on trying to build a community, and it just felt like having something that had a nice vibe would be nice,” said Becca Obuchowski, executive director of Community Choices. “What brings people together better than food, especially baked goods?”

Attendees were also interested in the community contributions the Great Cake Off would bring to Community Choices. 

“I’m excited to see the community support for it,” said Kathy Atchley, who attended the event alongside her daughter Christen. “Parents have kids in the group, but it’s nice to see other people come out and support it because the activities are really good.”

Wood, who has a son utilizing the Community Choices resources, sees how Community Choices broadens the perspective of those in the programs.

“They foster not only their independence but also expand on their unique strengths,” Wood said. 

Events like the Great Cake Off show community support to the groups’ participants and encourage leaders and members. Not only does it show support, but it also brings Community Choices into the light and helps articulate their mission. 

“Everybody should be aware of groups like this because you never know when your life is going to be impacted by somebody with a disability, whether your own child or a child of a friend,” Atchely said.

Fundraising is a big part of what Community Choices does to support its participants. Being a nonprofit organization, Community Choices relies on donations, state funding and proceeds from events like the Great Cake Off to fund its mission. 

Apart from helping raise money for the organization, the Great Cake Off also allows the community to attend an inclusive event that is accessible to all. 

“We’re here to raise money, but we’re also just here to help people realize that you can be inclusive in the way you approach your everyday experience in the world by making sure everyone is welcome at your table,” Obuchowski said.


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Anna Fedczuk
Anna Fedczuk, Graphics Editor
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