Guests of the Alexian Brothers Health System stepped back in time Saturday night, as they gathered amid the Field Museum's latest exhibition: "Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair."
The chance to see some of the museum's hidden collections -- and support the health system's major programs -- drew more than 600 people to the black tie fundraiser, called the Ball de Fleur and hosted by its Alexian Brothers Health Foundation.
Among them were dignitaries from the Alexian Brothers themselves, including Br. Daniel McCormick, provincial of the local province.
Foundation officials worked for two years to secure the ball at the Field during its acclaimed World's Fair exhibit.
"The Alexian Brothers came to Chicago in 1866 -- nearly 30 years before the World's Fair -- and became active in serving the poor and homeless," said Melanie Furlan, vice president of advancement for the Alexian Brothers Health Foundation.
"Because of their ministry in the city at that time," she added, "they served a lot of people who came to the fair. Consequently, the fair is interwoven into their history."
The Ball de Fleur is the only event that draws supporters and medical staff from across the hospital system and its five hospitals and center for mental health.
Beneficiaries included Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health in Arlington Heights, Alexian Brothers Hospice Residence in Elk Grove Village, Alexian Brothers Women & Children's Hospital in Hoffman Estates and Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance, which supports residential programs in Waukegan and Chicago.
The Women & Children's Hospital, like the Hospice Residence, Mental Health Center and housing programs, all serve primarily patients living on or below the poverty level, Furlan added.
"In all of these facilities, philanthropic funding is extremely important," Furlan says. "We rely on the community to help us provide the full spectrum of care. It's part of the Alexian Brothers' core mission, to provide the best care out there, regardless of a family's ability to pay."