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The Big Hearts Behind the Bernard Heerey Family Foundation

Since 2007, The Selfhelp Home has been a recipient of a program funded by the Bernard Heerey Family Foundation. This program highlights the importance of giving while providing life changing access to a vibrant Jewish life for many Chicago Jewish residents.

Who Was Bernard Heerey?

Bernard Heerey (“Bud”) has been best described as a quite person, a good man and a great story teller. “Bud didn’t spend his money on travel, gambling or clothes. He gave his money to charities,” said Nathaniel Grey, his longtime lawyer and friend.

Bud was born and raised in Chicago. His parents emigrated from Ireland and raised Bud as a religious Catholic. Bud inherited the family business, fixing car radios and providing car batteries. The business was located on the part of Clark St., commonly known in the 1960’s as “Skid Row”, an impoverished area located south of North Ave. and north of the Chicago River. Bud understood the neighborhood.

In 1959 he met and enlisted the services of Nathaniel Grey, as a lawyer. Mr. Grey described Bud as a “Land Assembler.” He continued, “Bud was a risk taker: he would buy up small, contiguous parcels on Clark St—condemned buildings, small commercial buildings, old transient residential buildings—piece them together into a large, assembled holding, demolish the buildings, turn the vacant land into paved parking lots, and sell the assembled parcels to developers. He was essentially helping to clean up Skid Row.” He followed that pattern on other streets in Chicago.

Bud never married and had no children. He passed away at the age of 79. His thoughtful estate planning developed a substantial portion of his estate to charity. He left specific bequests to various Catholic institutions. He provided for a foundation that would give grants to Section 501-(C)(3) organizations irrespective of race, religion or creed, for the benefit of aged person and worthy students.

Mr. Grey was to oversee the estate and serve as the designated Trustee of the foundation. Officially organized in 2006 the Bernard Heerey Family Foundation now currently provides over $3 million annually in grant funds to section 501 (C)(3) institutions.

Scholarships and fellowships for worthy students attending Chicago based schools that currently fall within the foundation’s mission includes Solomon Schechter Day School, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Chicago Jewish Day School, Garrett- Evangelical theological Seminary, Cristo Ray Jesuit High School, De La Salle Institute, and the University of Chicago.

Chicago based institutions that receive funding by the foundation to benefit aged persons include The Selfehlp Home. Selfehlp is proud to be one of the early recipients of grants from the Bernard Heerey Family Foundation. At the Selfhelp Home, the foundation’s grant subsidizes the rent for several residents who otherwise could not afford the cost of living in a retirement community.

Other senior facilities supported by the foundation include CJE Senior Life, the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.

The Selfhelp Home Board President, Austin Hirsch, expressed his sincere gratitude towards the generous grants received from the Bernard Heerey Family Foundation over the past nine years.
“Having this program each year helps us in supporting our mission and allows us to expand our reach into the community to provide the best quality of life for seniors in a culturally rich Jewish environment.” said, Hirsch.

“The Foundation is doing what Bud wanted, making an impact on the lives of others” said Mr. Grey.

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