Monday, April 29, 2013


Tuition covers about 65% of the costs of the Core Program and IMPACT for Middle School Girls. Volunteers and donors cover the rest. For a list of 2012 volunteers, see the January 7 blog thanking volunteers.

A BIG THANK YOU TO Summer 2012-Spring 2013 Donors
 Anonymous -- 9 anonymous donors
J.L. Adams -- in honor of Lois Adams
Janet & David Altman
Amy Amoroso -- in honor of sister Lisa
Lisa Amoroso
Mary "Laney" Amoroso
Susan Atchison
Robert Babcock
Sarah Bell
Lili & Angela Betancourt
Dolores Bjorkman
Bruce Brio
Jill Britton -- in honor of Martha Thompson
Sharon Bromberg -- Jewish Communal Fund
Patricia Broughton -- in honor of Martha Thompson
Kathleen Casey
Kimberly Clifton
Nancy Cohen
Christina Collins
Maury Collins
Dorianne Conn
Kathryn Conway
Dianne Costanzo -- in memory of Adrian Costanzo
Cynthia Curtis -- for Dianne Costanzo scholarship
Julie Curtis
Maureen Dunn
Carla Eisenberg
Cheri Erdman
Judith Feilen-Kocsis
Carol Ference
Jill Fischberg
Tamurla Fletcher
Gwyndolyn Friend
Laurie Fuller -- in honor of Shelley Bannister
Eileen Gelblat
Anne Gendler
Katherine Gumpertz
Milca Gundersen
Debborah Harp
Margit Henderson -- in honor of Martha Thompson
Paula Hernandez
Demetria Iazzetto
Carol Jennings
Pamela Jurkowski
Melanie Kelley
Kasey Klipsch -- in honor of Sandy Mitzel
Mary Komparda -- in honor of Dee Costanzo
Danuta Kowalczyk
Katie Kramer
Yukiko Leggitt
Ruth Lipschutz
Carmen Maso
Susan McConnell
Margaret McGrath
Jeannetta McKinney
Marianne Merola
Dorothy Meyer
Deb Mier -- in honor of Martha Thompson
Shari Miller
Lauren Mueller
Joel Nathan -- in memory of Ms. Marion S.
Mark Nessel
Teresa Neurauter
Stan Nevin 
Anthony Nitsos
Shiyu Nitsos
Molly Norris
Anna Noschese -- in honor of Tammy Deboer
Clara Orban
Rachel Pildis
Lisa Pines
Chemely Pomales
Dana Rhodes
Judith Rosedale -- in honor of Katie Skibbe
Robin & Andrew Rosenthal
Kathleen Rottman
Ben Ruiz
Laura Sanders
Therese Schmieg
Gail Schubert -- in honor of Elana Schubert
Valerie Schultz
Tracey Shafroth
Katie Skibbe
Linda Stawicki
Martha Thompson
Sherrie Travis -- in Memory of Liliian Travis
Helene Turner
Carrie Villa -- in honor of Martha Thompson
Margaret Vimont
Amy Voege
Iris Waichler
Donna Wilkens
Mary Ann Wilkens
Sarah-Monique Williams
Nat Wilson
Amy Winston

*If we have made in errors in the list (e.g. left out a name, misspelled a name, etc.), please let us know ( and we will correct it. Thank you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I am stepping way, way, way out of my comfort zone for the first weekend in May and taking this incredibly intense self-defense workshop that one of my besties, Molly, recently became certified to teach. I know they need help publicizing, so I'm taking it to the EffBEee. Listen up, Chicago area ladies:

So, IMPACT is different from lots of self-defense programs, because they have male instructors in full body gear in attendance. This means that the women in the class are able to punch, kick and hit at full-force, in order to see what it feels like to actually fight off an assailant. They don't pull any punches and neither do the male instructors. IMPACT believes that you need to be able to employ these skills, while under emotional duress, and not just in a homogenized classroom environment.  The trial altercations they engage in are realistic and upsetting. There isn't a guy in padded armor walking towards you, like carefully and slowly, so you can fake-kick his balls. There is a guy wearing a full suit of padding over every inch of his body, calling you names and pinning you to the floor until you kick him with enough force to knock him unconscious.

I have been to two of the graduation ceremonies for IMPACT [ed note: What is IMPACT?], in support of Molly, and it really shocked me how powerful they are. It's taken me a long time to work up the nerve to do the class, myself, because I was such a wreck just watching that I knew I was going to be an emotional basket case doing the class. The adrenaline of the scenarios, the rush of watching these women fight for themselves- despite being so afraid... it really is one of the most incredible things I've ever seen. And for me, when I'm scared or angry, it falls infuriatingly out of my eyeballs.

Today on the bus there was a loud, crazy man. He was talking loudly, narrating things that others were doing (including a little girl with her mom which was uber-creepy), commenting on those around him and being a jackass. Not strictly insane, but maybe on drugs? I don't know. He got off at the same stop as me and a bunch of others at the Irving Park Brown Line, then called me an idiot when I didn't push the crosswalk button fast enough for his liking. I ignored him. I thought about Molly, and how she isn't just able to kick people’s asses if she had to, but how she also knows how to stand up for herself. I've seen her do it plenty of times just by using her words and taking up some space and standing her ground and saying, "Hey. Stop it."…to a persistent guy at a bar, or a mean drunk girl at a party or a pimp who was smacking some woman around while Molly was driving by one day.  And I know that is something IMPACT taught her. I thought about how I wanted to be able to do that and not be scared, because when someone is being a menace, someone else should be able to say "Cut that shit out". So, I decided it was time.

SO. I'm doing it! Finally!  And they are a small non-profit and they need participants or else the class gets canceled for this term, so I'm telling everyone I can think of to consider signing up. Find the info at The price is $395 and there are scholarships and payment plans available. They will work with you to do everything in their power to get you in attendance, if you want to be there.

Think it over. I'd love to have partners in crime for this crazy little journey and, if Molly is any example, I think the benefits will be well worth the cost.

Share, Repost, Tweet, etc. [ed note: Sign up for the May Core Program!]


Monday, April 15, 2013

Five Seconds: Defending Myself Against an Armed Robber

I was visiting my mother in Michigan and we were meeting my sister for dinner at a local restaurant. As I dropped my mother off at the restaurant door I noticed three boys walking through the parking lot. As I went to park the car, I saw they had turned around and come back rather than just passing through. I had a hunch that they were trouble and thought they were looking for cars to break into. I parked under a light and walked toward the restaurant door, planning to tell the management about the boys. As I was walking, I heard a voice, “Give me all your money.” When I turned to face him, I saw the older one (no more than 13 or 14) pointing a gun at me. The other two were younger.
I knocked his gun arm so that it wasn’t pointing at me. He backed up and again pointed the gun at me. He had created enough distance that I did not move toward him. I dropped to the ground and yelled, “help”. My voice sounded weak and high and I thought “no one is going to respond to that”. I found my IMPACT voice and yelled “POLICE!” over and over again, very loud, very forceful, and they ran away. The entire incident lasted seconds. The police arrived quickly. They said they had seen the boys running away from the restaurant, but didn’t consider them suspects because they were so little. The entire attack felt like it lasted about 5 seconds. In reality it might have been a few more. It held that weird pliability of time that felt as though it was lasting forever and fleeting at the same time.
I took the IMPACT Core Program in 1990, and shortly after I took Defense Against an Armed Rapist. I was a class assistant for many years. I haven’t assisted or taken an IMPACT course in over 6 years. Even with that time gap, trusting myself and using my voice were immediate instinctive reactions. And while I responded instinctively, I also had fully formed thoughts flowing through my head constantly within the very short amount of time the attack lasted.
Thoughts about those moments:
1. When I saw the gun, their demand for all my money had no meaning for me because in the moment I had no memory of having a purse or any possessions. I wasn’t trying to keep my purse, I just didn’t realize I had it.
2. Nothing went as I would have planned or imagined. I’ve had moments when find myself with the “could have/should haves” but am trying not to get stuck there, but rather celebrate my instincts that ultimately lead to my safety.
3. My voice saved my life.
4. I had no bruise or physical consequence from dropping to the ground.
Thoughts about taking care of myself
1. I considered returning home but stuck with my original plan to stay 3 more days, which allowed me to stay in the area, return to the restaurant (where I had a reservation the next day with a friend), and see that I could carry on with my planned activities while I processed the attack.
2. I talked extensively with my husband by phone. He was available whenever I wanted to talk, listened to all I had to say and was tremendously supportive.
3. I also received lots of support from another IMPACT graduate who had been robbed by someone with a gun, as well as various family members from both my family and my husbands, and a handful of friends.
4. I realized quickly, however, that many people didn’t know how to give me support. Some people were cavalier; others focused on their own or someone else’s experience without connecting it to what had just happened to me. I took care of myself by acknowledging their love, but accepting that they didn’t know how to give it to me in this situation and not discussing it further with them if they asked about it again. Most did not ever ask about it again, so that made it easier, even while demonstrating their complete unwillingness to deal with such an uncomfortable topic. This information is valuable because should I have another traumatic experience I will know the short list of people to surround myself with.
5. The night of the attack I wrote about what happened; not so much what I was feeling because I wasn’t even sure what that was. I wrote the details, getting all of it out of my head and onto paper.
6. As the days went by I honored every single thing that came up for me and took respite when I needed it.
7. I have found that I am doing all the things I did before the attack, but in certain places or times I find myself wary in a way I was not before. Not negative, just different. But I have not avoided one thing
that I’ve wanted to do, changed the way I live or how I walk in the world because of the attack. I continue to process it as necessary.
Just seconds — I faced an armed robber, I trusted my instincts, and I used my voice.
I am so grateful to IMPACT for all it has given me. It has equipped me with the tools I need to live in this world. My self-confidence and sense of self-worth have grown beyond measure. It has proven itself time and time again in my ability to create and maintain boundaries, hold my head high, protect myself and in this latest instance protect my life. Perhaps I didn’t do textbook IMPACT work, but I did honest and instinctive IMPACT work. And that worked.
Tammy DeBoer, IMPACT Chicago graduate

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tweet, Post, Friend: The IMPACT story

In 2009, Arden Schuman convinced then IMPACT Chicago Director Martha Thompson of the importance of IMPACT Chicago having a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Not long after, Arden said, “Let’s do a blog.” Arden has brought her technical savvy and intelligent encouragement to the IMPACT Chicago social media process. She does not micro-manage the content, but keeps things on track by pointing out types of posts, blogs, and blasts that bring more viewers, friends, readers. Once something is ready for publication or posting, she makes sure it gets to the public.

Although Martha has stepped down as Director of IMPACT Chicago (after 25 years of volunteer service), she continues to coordinate the social media content as well as teach IMPACT.  She says: “Working on social media has given me another way to educate the public about violence and self-defense.” Leslie Eto has recently taken on editing the blogs and AC Racette has been a regular contributor through writing blogs and doing interviews with volunteers and graduates.

If you want to contribute a blog, posts to facebook, or a tweet, let Jennifer, Volunteer Coordinator, know. We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Yes to Life

Linda Tran, interviewed October 14, IMPACT Chicago’s 25th Anniversary Celebration

How did you find IMPACT, what brought you here?

I used to work for JCFS. Margaret V. [IMPACT Instructor] had a raffle and that’s how I found out about IMPACT. A year ago, I moved to the city from the suburbs. I felt unsafe because there were so many crime reports circulating about girls getting phones snatched from them or being hit from behind and possessions taken from them. Just 2 months ago, I heard about an armed rapist who broke into a girl’s second-floor apartment in my neighborhood at 3 am and raped her, then got away.
That boosted my alertness level. I was anxious and paranoid walking down the street. I have to walk through these tunnels. I’d be very scared, looking over my shoulder. I’d get upset when my boyfriend couldn’t stay over to take care of me. I had to alter my behavior. I didn’t feel good inside. So, I looked at this course again and I wanted to sign up my sister, but she couldn’t do it with me. Leslie [Registration Director] from IMPACT reached out again and that’s what helped me sign up for the course, and a scholarship made it possible.
I took it over two full weekends, Saturday and Sunday, and the graduation was two weeks ago. Even after the first day of taking it, I felt empowered. My paranoia went all the way down. I knew what to do with my body. They teach you to trust your gut instinct. Because we trained so hard, even over-trained, all I had to do was be present in my body. Always be aware and stay in your body. I learned how to trust my body more and to trust that it can protect me when I need it to.
What’s powerful about IMPACT were the circles. I met ten other wonderful women and everyone was very supportive. In the very last circle, we do this thing where you could prepare something special to present. I didn’t have time to present anything but if I did, it would have been a poem because I used to write poetry. It would have been along the lines of “Everyone has come to be very special and have a place in my heart, and no matter what happens in life--knock on wood--if anything were to happen to any of us, always remember that we’re there and to hear our voices on the sidelines.” We’re not in it alone, we’re all together, no matter what, no matter where.
In our circles, when we get together at the end of any scenario or any fight, we would hold hands and say a big “Yes!” As Martha Thompson said, we have so many "No’s" in our lives, but you have to say “Yes” to so many other things. You have to say “Yes” to life.
Compared to class, today [the 25th Anniversary Celebration] was 4-5 times as much and that last circle that we just did felt very powerful with that big old "Yes". It leaves this feeling that I can do anything. I can go out there and not be afraid. We’re all worth fighting for, each of us, and we’re fighting for each other...we’re not alone.

Linda was interviewed by AC Racette