For nearly two decades, Gary Rosenberg has been the driving force behind a major annual fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County.
Rosenberg, the 59-year-old president of Crystal Lake Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, was introduced to the nonprofit youth mentorship organization through his work with United Way of McHenry County. After meeting the people involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, he wanted to do what he could to help.
“It’s a marvelous, marvelous entity. They really do good work,” he said. “And the passion of the people there is incredible.”
Dave Barber, who was running the United Way at the time, told Rosenberg that Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County needed more than money. The organization needed a business person to help lead it.
After discovering an immediate connection to the organization and its mission, Rosenberg joined the board in 1999. He served on the board for six years, and continues to help the organization by serving on its advisory council, which is made up of former board members who provide advice and support.
“This organization really does help kids,” Rosenberg said. “There are a ton of single parents out there raising families, and they need a little help.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County matches adult mentors with at-risk children ages 6 to 14.
“Many times, these are kids who are in desperate need of role models,” said Jamie Maravich, board chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County.
Studies have shown children in the program are more likely to do well in school and graduate, gain confidence, avoid drugs and alcohol and break the cycle of abuse that is sometimes present in their family structure, Maravich said.
At the time Rosenberg started working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, the organization wasn’t doing well financially. He made payroll for the nonprofit for the first two months, and it was clear the organization needed to find more stable ways to bring in revenue to pay its professional staff members and other program expenses.
Eventually, Rosenberg and friend Jack Cook came up with the idea of Swing for Kids Sake, an annual golf outing that would raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. Swing for Kids Sake, now in its 13th year, has raised more than $500,000 for the organization.
“It’s absolutely a Herculean effort for everyone involved, and there are a lot of people involved in this,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg takes pride in recruiting players and sponsors to the event.
“We get people from all walks of life to play,” he said. “I bring anyone who will talk to me.”
Despite the effort that is involved in hosting a successful golf outing fundraiser, Rosenberg said he never tires of the challenges.
“I’m relentless; I’m a car salesman,” he said.
He added: “I love it. Kids are my passion.”
Swing for Kids Sake is one of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County’s largest annual fundraisers, and the event also raises awareness about the organization and its mission, Maravich said.
“Whenever the agency needs something, [Rosenberg] is there, and he fixes it,” she said. “He’s amazing. It’s so much more than writing a check. He’s promoting the organization and enabling it to thrive.”
Rosenberg has been involved in several organizations that help children. For 15 years, he coached fifth- and sixth-grade basketball for the Crystal Lake Park District.
“He’s a passionate guy,” said Todd Hammond, a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. “He loves kids. He loves the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s a home run for us. We’d take 10 or 15 Gary Rosenbergs if we could find them.”