ELMHURST – Patrick and Julie Sheehan were looking for a way to combine their passion for craft beer with their love of local charities.
“I had my friends over and we were enjoying craft beer and I said, ‘Guys, I have this crazy idea for a charity where we raise money for local boots-on-the-ground charities while drinking craft beer.’ And they all go, ‘OK, I’m in,’” Patrick Sheehan said. “That’s how the idea was born.”
The Sheehans started Hops for Humanity in 2014 as a way to engage the craft beer community while supporting a good cause.
Hops for Humanity invites its members to four events per year, each at a local brewery or restaurant. Every member donates $100 to attend the event and then has the opportunity to nominate a local charity.
Three charity names are randomly pulled from the box and then the nominating members give a five-minute presentation on the charity, its mission and contribution to the community. After the presentations, members vote to decide which organization will receive the funds raised at the event.
An important guideline is that no national charities will be considered, only local organizations.
“What we are trying to do is fund local boots-on-the-ground charities that really make a difference in our local community,” Sheehan said.
Since its inaugural event in January 2015, Hops for Humanity has raised more than $60,000 for five different charities.
The organizations that have benefited so far include Family Shelter Service in Wheaton, Marklund Children’s Home in Geneva, Let It Be Us in Barrington, One Step Cancer Camp in Chicago and SurvivorVision in Elmhurst.
“SurvivorVision provides scholarships for childhood survivors of pediatric cancer,” Sheehan said. “They’re located in Elmhurst and their annual budget is $10,000 and we doubled their budget in an hour-and-a-half while drinking beer. And that’s pretty cool.”
At its most recent event April 11 at Exit Strategy Brewing Co. in Forest Park, members raised more than $7,500 for the Elmhurst Lions Club.
“The Elmhurst Lions Club won [April 11] and they are specifically going to buy a machine that tests vision for mostly elderly people that can identify problems and help save their vision,” Sheehan said. “Exit Strategy is really a great place. Their hamburger is one of the best I’ve ever had. Owners Chris and Katherine Valleau brewed a special IPA beer just for us, so that was very, very cool.”
An additional perk is every event takes place at a local brewery or restaurant so members can try out different craft beers.
While most Hops for Humanity members are brewers and beer lovers, the true purpose of the organization is to give back to the community.
“The beer is what I refer to as the sideshow,” Sheehan said. “It’s a fun part of the evening, it’s part of the draw because you are going to a brewery that you haven’t been to before or drinking a beer you have never had before, but the main reason we do this, and the main reason our members are there at the events, is to do good. Our motto is ‘Good beer doing good.’”
To make sure the beer remains the sideshow, attendees are only served up to three tastings. But for beer lovers, Hops for Humanity is still a delicious way to give back.
HOW TO JOIN
There is no fee to join Hops for Humanity, but members agree to honor a commitment to donate $100 per quarterly event for a total of $400 a year. Guests can attend by paying $100 for one event, but they cannot nominate or vote for a charity.