Merle Goldblatt Cohen and Family Named Family of the Year

Streeterville resident Merle Goldblatt Cohen, civic leader and life-long philanthropist has, along with her family, has been named the 2008 Family of the Year by Metropolitan Family Services. The Cohens will be recognized December 6, 2008 at Metropolitan’s Holiday Celebration, taking place at the Chicago Club.

Cohen, a Board Member of Metropolitan Family Services since 1997, has been a strong and active supporter of mothers and children in need. Thirty years ago she helped establish Child Abuse Prevention Services, a program that became part of Metropolitan and evolved into the Healthy Families program, which teaches parenting skills, child development and baby health care to first-time moms through at-home visits.

In addition, Merle and her family also were major contributors to Metropolitan’s North Children’s Center, a $1.5 million Head Start facility that opened in 2008 and provides affordable quality child care for lower-income families on Chicago’s Northwest Side.

Merle’s daughter, Lisa Cohen Schenkman, also is a Metropolitan Family Services Board Member and a co-founder of “Make a Child Smile,” an annual family street fest and fundraiser held in Lincoln Park. The Make a Child Smile Committee has raised more than $1 million for Metropolitan Family Services since 2001.

In addition to Merle, family members who are being honored include her husband, Seymour A. Cohen; her daughter, Lisa Cohen Schenkman; her son, Aaron S. Cohen, Ph.D.; her son-in law, Gary Schenkman; her daughter-in-law Leslie R. Cohen, and her grandchildren Zachary Schenkman, Laurel Schenkman, Simon Cohen and Isabel Cohen.

In addition to supporting Metropolitan, Cohen has been involved with many organizations including the Jewish United Fund and the University of Chicago Hospitals. She also is President of the Cancer Research Foundation, founded in 1947 by Cohen’s father, Maurice Goldblatt, who left his role as President of Goldblatt stores to raise money for cancer research when his brother Nathan died from the disease. Merle’s mother, Bernice Goldblatt, is the foundation’s Chairman; Merle’s brother Stanford Goldblatt is the foundation’s Vice-President.

“I come from a family with a passion for families – for caring and giving,” Merle says. “That’s my background and I’ve never moved from it. I’m interested in making people comfortable … That’s the way I am – it’s important to me.”

Tickets to Metropolitan’s Holiday Celebration are $300 per person. For more information call 312/986-4099

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