Former NIU Marching Band Alumni Honors Homeless Veterans

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Linda Wdovech-Newlin has always had a love for the mighty Chicago Bears. As a young university musician with the famed Northern Illinois University Marching Show Band, she enhanced her affection for the Chicago Bears as she got to march on Soldier Field with the Show Band doing Chicago Bears half-times show.

This is the 100th season for the Chicago Bears in the NFL. “100” celebrations are taking place throughout the season to commemorate this accomplishment. The Chicago Bears decided to recognize and support 10 non-profit organizations that are making a positive impact around Chicagoland and Illinois by donating a $100,000 grant to each of them. They campaigned for nominations of charities that would be worthy of this grant.

Being a season ticket holder of the Chicago Bears, Linda had received a notice from the Chicago Bears asking for nominations of charities. Being a VALOR-USA officer, and having worked on VALOR-USA community service efforts for the MSHV in the past, she immediately thought of the MSHV for this campaign.

Feeling there was nothing to lose, Linda Wdovech-Newlin nominated the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans (MSHV) in Wheaton, Illinois for a $100,000 grant from the Chicago Bears.  She had no idea if the MSHV would be selected for the final 10 that would receive this grant. She assumed many charities would be nominated. Linda sent in her nomination for the MSHV, and contacted the MSHV to let them know about the campaign and that she submitted their organization for this grant.

Recently, the Chicago Bears announced the 9 charities that were each awarded a $100,000 grant. The 10th charity is currently being decided by an online vote between 3 finalists. The MSHV was one of the 9 charities that are definitely being awarded a $100,000 grant!!! The MSHV will be recognized during the Bears vs. Lions game at Soldier Field on Nov. 10, 2019. And yes, she will be there to enjoy her efforts in honoring Veterans.  This is a very proud moment for this NIU Marching Band Alumni.

The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans is a non-profit agency that provides housing, supportive services, and community outreach to help homeless and at-risk veterans and their families achieve self-sufficiency. Founded in 2007, by Vietnam War veteran Bob Adams and Gulf War veteran Dirk Enger, MSHV operates on a vision of no veteran left behind due to homelessness, joblessness, poverty and/or mental health issues.
The MSHV is a 501c3 organization that helps homeless veterans. Their mission is to end veteran homelessness in northeast Illinois and our neighboring communities so that no person who has defended our homes goes without a home. VALOR-USA, an organization of which I’m an officer that supports veterans and those currently serving, have done some volunteering to benefit the MSHV. VALOR-USA has organized collection drives for the MSHV, driven veterans to doctor’s appointments, raised money for the MSHV, and generally providing needed service to veterans. The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans serves more than 500 veteran households annually across a seven-county service area.

Linda Wdovech was a member of the NIU Show Band while in college and formed friendships with many Band Alumni that continues today. According to her university Band Director Michael Embrey, Linda was a great student and musician while a member of the Band. “Linda had a positive attitude and I knew she would be successful after college,” said Embrey. “Linda would walk into a room and smile and make everyone feel good. Even as a young member of the band, she showed great leadership skills and compassion for those around her”. 

Michael Embrey still lives in DeKalb and is active in music and entertainment. He is extremely proud of the success of the hundreds of NIU Marching Band Alumni. “Every time I see a story like Linda’s, I become even more proud of the students that were in the Band”, states Embrey. “More importantly, as a Military Band Veteran, I hate seeing the words ‘homeless veterans’ and proud when someone like Linda makes a special effort to do something about this cause.”

Linda Wdovech-Newlin and her family live in North Aurora, and every fall attends the NIU Homecoming game to re-connect with her Band Alumni friends. For additional information about this campaign, visit https://www.chicagobears.com/community/all-pros For information about the MSHV, visit http://helpaveteran.org/

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