LaBranche Family Foundation founder Rowsha LaBranche
As president and founder of the LaBranche Family Foundation Inc. (LFF) in Bolingbrook, Rowsha LaBranche helps families facing financial challenges throughout Will County and its border communities.
“The LaBranche Family Foundation began as our personal desire to annually grant Christmas wishes for disadvantaged families,” LaBranche told Will County Gazette. “In 2001, we were touched by an article in our neighborhood newspaper that shed light on two families. Each family had a unique story; however, they shared one common thread. They felt invisible and were desperately in need of necessities during the Christmas season. We joined our community, we adopted a family and so our story began.”
The foundation became a 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization in 2017.
“Our objectives are to be a local service-based organization with a goal to provide services to financially challenged families within our community and the surrounding areas as guided by four pillar programs,” LaBranche said. “Core programs include our Christmas Wish Program, Holiday Organized Pajama Events (HOPE), Health & Wellness Program and Educational Program, whereby provisional wishes are granted and pajamas are donated to disadvantaged families, families impacted by tragedy or families who reside in homeless shelters throughout the year. Our programs also consist of free wellness seminars in addition to annual scholarships for local high school students and grants for our local Bolingbrook Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program to subsidize the tuition for students faced with financial challenges.”
While HOPE donates new pajamas throughout the year, the program also hosts several fun-filled events during the month of December. These includes providing holiday-themed crafts, toys, winter apparel, school supplies, pre-loaded gift cards and free raffles.
“It’s a delight to see the children grow within our program and to return as volunteers,” LaBranche said. “Our proudest moments are to see the sheer delight and surprises on the faces of our children each year.”
In addition to helping disadvantaged individuals, LFF supports local businesses by shopping locally and utilizing and marketing the businesses during its events. LFF was recently recognized as a finalist for the distinguished 2019 Best of Bolingbrook Business Award by the Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce in the charity category.
“The pursuit of our overall social responsibility mission is met through our current programs,” LaBranche said. “For example, HOPE offers the gift of new pajamas and toys as well as arts and crafts. While this event serves to provide children with clothing and entertainment during the holidays, more importantly these items and activities offer a sense of self-confidence and constructive, creative expression for the children. The pajamas and toys are a byproduct of our mission to improve the fabric of our Bolingbrook area and local communities via fostering an inclusive environment and by exposing the next generation of citizens to constructive and creative outlets.”
LaBranche is a retired health care professional who has lived in the Bolingbrook community since 1982. She has been married to her husband Elwin for 39 years and together they have two adult children and one grandson. In her spare time, LaBranche enjoys culinary arts, wine tastings and spending time with her family.