Will County Beer and Bourbon Fest scheduled for May 20 benefits veterans

Will County Habitat for Humanity is ‘only as strong as the community that supports us’

Rebecca Cutrano (second from right) and her family (from left) John Rizzo, Lisa Rizzo, Natalia Cutrano, Rebecca Cutrano and Paul Cutrano had a great time at the first Will County Beer & Bourbon Fest in 2022 to benefit Will County Habitat for Humanity's veterans program. This year's event will be May 20 at Hollywood Casino in Joliet.

The 2023 Will County Beer & Bourbon Fest on May 20 is all about “raising walls and raising spirits for veterans,” Nicole Murray, executive director for Will County Habitat for Humanity said.

The outdoor event on May 20 at Hollywood Casino in Joliet will feature more than 100 varieties of beer and Bourbon available to sample.

General admission tickets are $75 in advance or at the door or VIP tickets for $100 each, according to a news release from Will County Habit for Humanity announcing the event.

General admission features include admission from noon to 5 p.m., a commemorative glass, samples of more than 100 different kinds of beer and Bourbon, live music by Simply Yacht Rock and 7th Heaven, vendors and games. Food will be available for purchase, the release said.

Those who purchase VIP tickets may enter the event at 11 a.m. They will have access to exclusive beer and bourbon tastings and snacks in the VIP tent in addition to the features included with a general admission ticket, the release said.

“The funds raised from this event are to help continue build more homes for veterans and also be able to offer them home repairs,” Murray said.

So far, Will County Habitat for Humanity has “put four veterans into homes” through its Veterans Build program, Murray said.

Up until seven years ago, volunteers ran Will County Habitat for Humanity and built one to two homes a year, Murray said. Now Will County Habitat for Humanity has 28 employees, builds 10 to 13 new homes a year and offers several programs, including one for home repair and one on financial literacy, Murray said.

“One thing about Habitat for Humanity is that it’s a hand up, not a handout,” Murray said. “You have to be able to pay an affordable mortgage. The mortgage is 30% of your monthly income…we are connected with many resources that offer downpayment to make this more attainable.”

Murray said 1,400 people came out for last year’s event, which helped put one veteran into a home. This year, Murray would like the event to raise enough money to help two veterans, she said.

“We have 91 families on a waiting list. Eight of them are veterans,” Murray said. “So we know the need is real when they come to our orientation and apply. But the challenge for us, as you can imagine, is that we are only as strong as the community that supports us. So you have this balancing act of 91 families on a waiting list, but we are only able to do 10 to 13 houses a year.”

Murray recalled how Will County Habitat for Humanity founding member Joe Adler (deceased) president of Adler Roofing Company, approached asking people for donations: if a sponsor wants to donate $1,000, why not ask for $10,000 – or $100,000? Then Will County Habitat for Humanity would build neighborhoods, not one home at a time, she said.

“The one thing I can tell you about Joe is that he pushed and pushed,” Murray said in a 2019 Herald-New story. “Some people were turned off by it and others were inspired by it...he believed if you were in a position where God had given you the gift and the talent, you were supposed to put those to work.”

For tickets and additional event information, visit willcountybeerandbourbonfest.com.

For more information about Will County Habitat for Humanity, visit habitatwill.org.