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Proven IT celebrates Black History Month with our 2024 Inspirational Black Leadership Spotlight, highlighting some of our Proven partners who embody resilience, excellence, and empowerment within the Black community – guiding positive change and progress.

Today, we proudly present the Calahan family as exemplary leaders in their community. The Calahans were nominated by Hank Johnson, one of our Proven people, because of their impressive commitment to their community.

The Calahan Family sitting on a couch, founders of the Calahan Foundation

The Calahan Family from left to right: Edric L. Calahan, Shirley Calahan, Jasper Paul Taylor II, Edward Calahan, Valerie Taylor-Calahan

The Calahan Family: Leading By Example

Allow us to introduce you to the Calahan Family, the driving force behind Calahan Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Inc.(CFH). Edward and Shirley Calahan, founded Calahan Funeral Home in 1983. Their children took over the firm in 2023 with Valerie Calahan Taylor as President of the firm and son, Edric Calahan as Vice President and director of Marketing.

The family business has served thousands of families remaining at the same location on 70th and Halsted Street in Chicago’s Englewood Community. It is here that Edward and Shirley believe they were purposely planted to serve a community that others may have frowned upon or counted out.

More than 250 mortuary science students interested in the funeral business, have been mentored through educational support and internships at the funeral home. Providing these avenues increase chances for employment for community members.

Never satisfied with being limited by external perceptions or industry standards, Calahan Funeral Home sees the needs of each family served as an opportunity to uplift and inspire. Families of the common man or woman are treated with the same respect and dignity as the families of high-profile citizens. Each family matters.

The respect and care for these families extend beyond the conclusion of the funeral service. Calahan Funeral Home offers a robust Grief Support Program entitled Calahan CARES, this program is free of charge, not just to the families who choose CFH, but to all families. This is accomplished through their 24-hour online support, quarterly grief support sessions, and more intensive group settings.

It has always been, and remains, the family’s goal to not just be in the community but also to be a part of the community. They frequently visit schools and participate in community events throughout the year. One of their greatest motivations is the understanding that young people cannot be what they don’t see. They believe as business owners in the inner city, they have a responsibility to model possibilities.

Mr. And Mrs. Calahan speaking to Mortuary Science students at Worsham College.

Mr. And Mrs. Calahan speaking to Mortuary Science students at Worsham College, speaking about funeral services in the African American Baptist tradition.

Edric Calahan facilitating a workshop entitled "Overcoming Mediocrity" at Elev8 Church.

Edric Calahan facilitating a workshop entitled “Overcoming Mediocrity” at Elev8 Church.

Their footprint in the community has grown from the original Landmark Chapel at 7030 S. Halsted and now includes three parking lots, an outdoor memorial garden and new state of the art Calahan Legacy Center at 7046 S. Halsted. The Legacy Center not only serves as a funeral chapel which can seat up to 300, it is also the setting for grief support sessions, and seminars teaching families how to pre-plan and prepare for their final wishes. With the opening of this facility, the family’s dream of providing a multi-purpose space for the community to host events within the community was also realized. Community organizations and churches have hosted prayer breakfasts, workshops, luncheons, conferences, fundraising galas, donation collection campaigns, and countless other events at the location. The expansion also afforded the firm space to host free document shredding events on the premises and vaccination drives during the COVID 19 pandemic.

When the congregation of the historic Antioch Baptist Church suffered a devastating fire which destroyed their edifice, the Calahan family stepped up and offered the spacious facility to serve as a place of worship. For eight weeks, CFH hosted parishioners just blocks from their beloved church home until they found a semi -permanent location while the church is being rebuilt.

The Calahan Family share their facilities for church services with Antioch Church after Antioch's church burned down.

The Calahans offer their facilities for Antioch’s church worship after their church was destroyed by a fire.

Another dream realized by the Calahan family for several years was to find a way to serve the community by means other than funerals. Through Edric’s vision, this courageous dream was realized in 2009 through the birth of The Calahan Foundation nonprofit organization. During the Foundation’s early years, they focused on providing families, many of whom lived in shelters and were domestic abuse survivors with coats and toys during the holiday season. Through these efforts, over 600 individuals and families were served.

The foundation’s reach extends beyond Chicagoland. When hurricanes devastated Houston, Texas, Valerie, enlisted the foundation to aid the residents in the city of her of her almater. With the support of  partners, members of the community, and the city of Chicago, they were able to transport over 130,000 pounds of supplies, more than 3,000 cases of water, and monetary donations totaling over $10,000 to Houston. These efforts were profound, but they desired to do more.

Edward, Shirley, Valerie, Edric, Leonard Susberry, and CFH Advance Planning Specialist, Angela Susberry. CFH served as the host site and also a sponsor for donated items to benefit families housed at Ronald McDonald House.

CFH served as the host site and also a sponsor for donated items to benefit families housed at Ronald McDonald House. From left to right: Edward, Shirley, Valerie, Edric, Leonard Susberry, and CFH Advance Planning Specialist, Angela Susberry.

Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over $300,000 in scholarships to hard-working high school graduates. Additionally, with the launch of the Calahan League of College Scholars (CLOCS) mentoring program, the organization has supported 55 students in their academic journey with monthly professional development workshops and one-on-one check-ins. This program is currently supporting 24 scholars.

Supporting youth through education was a most fitting evolution of their humanitarian work. Seeing education as the springboard for success, the family members personally pursued higher education at Worsham School Of Mortuary Science, Roosevelt University, Florida A&M University, Texas State University, and Malcolm X College – School Of Mortuary Science. The time had come to pave the way for others to do the same.

The Foundation’s mission is now to provide educational scholarships and college mentorship while supporting the community’s needs. With their son-in-law, Pastor Jasper Taylor as the Executive Director of the organization provides college scholarships and mentoring to high school seniors graduating and pursuing college education. As the cost of higher education keeps rising, the organization aims to reduce the financial burden for these students.

The Calahans posing with a presented scholarship to one of their winning students.

The Calahans posing with a presented CLoCS scholarship to one of their winning recipients.

Edward Calahan and Valerie Calahan-Taylor presenting at John B. Drake Elementary School's Career Day.

Edward Calahan and Valerie Calahan-Taylor presenting at John B. Drake Elementary School’s Career Day.

Continuing The Mission

The Calahan family is deeply involved in the Calahan Foundation’s fundraising and charitable activities. They all serve on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Valerie, also serves as the Chairperson of CLOCS. Among its notable board members, is Proven IT’s own, Hank Johnson, who has been a valued member of the board almost since its inception in 2010.

The Foundation hosts the Celebration of Giving Scholarship Benefit Gala every December to raise scholarship funds. This event is a fun-filled evening with great food and entertainment for a worthy cause. The Foundation also raises money for scholarships through its annual 5K charity run/walk, known as the Annual Run4Life 5k.

They shared that they are grateful to their board members, sponsors, supporters, scholars and their parents, who make charitable work possible and honors them during the Scholarship Benefit Gala.

How You Can Help

The Calahan family knows the importance of building relationships and cherishing friends and business associates, which keeps them encouraged and focused on their mission.

Help the Calahan Foundation and its mission and help hard-working students build a better life through education by donating here, or click the button below.

Note from the editor: We want to thank Nicole Baldwin, Executive Assistant of Calahan Funeral Home, and each Calahan member for providing us with their help, feedback, and incredible story.