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Chicago Veterans' Home Named for Late Western Springs Volunteer

An accident took Shawn Feeley's life in August while he was fundraising for the home, but his legacy remains in the name of the building, which has its grand opening Saturday.

Shawn Feeley gave his life to EdgeAlliance's cause. EdgeAlliance gave Feeley’s name to the project he died in helping create.

The nonprofit organization will hold the ribbon-cutting for the Shawn Feeley Alpha House on Sawyer Avenue in Chicago’s North Lawndale District on Saturday morning. The house will serve as a residence for up to nine homeless veterans, who will start moving in as early as January 1.

Tragically, Feeley won’t be there to see the culmination of a project he put so much effort into. The 51-year-old Western Springs resident was taking part in the non-profit’s Ride for Liberty on August 6 to fundraise for the Alpha House when something caused him to fall off his motorcycle on Route 41 in Lake County. After 10 days in a coma, he died on Aug. 15.

“It was a pretty unanimous decision of our board of directors that we had to in some way honor and remember Shawn for his passion for our organization and for this cause in particular,” said EdgeAlliance Vice President of Advancement Allen Hailey, of renaming the building.

Feeley, who worked as executive vice president of Evergreen Bank Group in Oak Brook, served on the EdgeAlliance Board and had been involved with the organization for about a year. He had previously visited and spoken at the home that will now bear his name.

He was husband to MeLisa and father to Will, 14, whose baseball and basketball teams he frequently coached. He was also a 10-year veteran of the Western Springs Fire Department and a former foster parent. The family lives in the Village’s Old Town South neighborhood.

“He would be so proud of how much work was put into this to make it a home for these veterans,” MeLisa Feeley said. “It’s a great memorial to him. I’m just so thrilled that they asked if they could [name it after him.]”

The Alpha House, a gray-stone four-story building at 1251 S. Sawyer Ave., is so called “Alpha” as it is the EdgeAlliance’s first housing project for veterans. The two-decade-old organization had previously worked only to find housing for HIV/AIDS patients.

Ride for Liberty—the first fundraiser of its sort, scheduled now to be an annual Shawn Feeley Ride for Liberty—ended up raising $35,000 for the home.

“The outpouring of support from far and wide to make this into creating a home for homeless veterans has just been profound and inspiring to all of us,” Hailey said, noting that the home would provide a variety of case-management and job-placement services to its veterans as well.

“[Feeley] was just an absolute joy to work with,’ he added.

Kevin Mangin December 15, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Hi Darren. Thanks for this story. Would you happen to know if there is any way/where to make a donation to assist with future living and educational expenses for Shawn's family?
Melinda Kaiser December 15, 2012 at 11:17 PM
There is a fund for Will's education at Evergreen Bank in Oak Brook, set up by the board of the bank Shawn co-founded.
Kevin Mangin December 16, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Thanks Melinda!

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