Lizzy Seeberg legacy impacts Chicago neighborhood
From left, Karla Irving of Northbrook and Lauren McCallick (a Christ the King resident teacher) outside the Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House in the Chicago Austin neighborhood. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2012 6:24AM
Forty, a biblical number, counts as a leap of faith for the Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House in Chicago.
Forty steps, past the three-flat’s entrance via five flights of stairs to a third floor apartment, caused Karla Irving of Northbrook to reflect.
“There’s a connection there,” said Irving, a Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School corporate work study volunteer.
“Forty days in the desert…forty days in Lent.”
Irving, standing May 30 in the vestibule of this Austin neighborhood brownstone, toured renovated apartments which will welcome Jesuit Alumni Volunteer (JAV) resident instructors like Lauren McCallick and Michael Laughlin.
Seven JAV faculty members, who have committed to teach two years at the four-year-new prep school, will live across the street.
They had been commuting to work seven miles way in Pilsen.
Move-in date unofficial, the June 9 Christ the King graduation ceremony featured keynoter Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. All 52 Class of 2012 graduates are attending college.
“It’s a labor of love,” said the Rev. Christopher J. Devron, S.J., Christ the King president.
“We built it (the school), now we just have to pay for it,” he said, citing multi-million dollar debt service.
The Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House, dedicated in early May, was funded with donations raised after Lizzy, 19, a St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., student, died by suicide on Sept. 10, 2010.
The building, purchased in March 2011 for $116,000, required $125,000 in repairs. More donations, local trades people heartily donating talent.
Northbrook St. Norbert Church donated Whale of the Sale (a May 19 rummage event) items. Two Baker couches are being reupholstered via Glencoe interior designer Ann Kendall.
Melly Schwartz of Turn the Tables, a Northbrook consignment shop, is repurposing a dining table.
The Lizzy house features hot pink flowers in a front door container. A name plaque offers perpetual neighborly endorsement of Chicago’s West Side.
A third floor chalkboard spans an entire kitchen area wall. Lizzy once sold handmade smaller chalkboards to fundraise for Christ the King.
“Lizzy had a very generous heart,” said Rev. Devron. “She was a doer.
“She wanted to do something here, it’s amazing,” he said, also acknowledging St. Norbert where the Seebergs are parishioners.
Tom Seeberg, originally from Northfield, and his wife Mary (a 1983 Glenbrook North High School graduate), are 21-year Northbrook residents.
Lizzy was the oldest of three children. Mary Claire, 18, is a GBN senior. Their son Mark, 15, is a GBN freshman.
“In the days that followed Lizzy’s death,” said Tom Seeberg, “as the gravity of our tragedy sunk in, Mary and I prayed for the strength to carry this with grace and dignity.
“We needed this to be our finest hour, as husband and wife but more importantly, as parents for Mary Claire and Mark.
“We found that strength from the unyielding love and support of our families, our church and our Northbrook community.
Eighty percent of Lizzy House donor funds originated from Northbrook.
Of the June 7 move-in: “It’s going to be a great day,” said Tom Seeberg.
“Lizzy had such a strong sense that, with great privilege, comes a great responsibility to serve, to give back.
Lizzy noted “access to a world-class education, while 25 miles away, kids have limited access to quality education and the opportunities that education brings.
“And she insisted on doing something to help.
“The Lizzy House is a fitting honor for her giving spirit,” her father said.
“I think the school is a vote for Austin,” said Stewart A. Schoder, Christ the King chief financial officer.
“For this community, it’s a vote of confidence, that we’re your neighbors.”
The Seeberg family attended the Christ the King June 2008 groundbreaking.
Lizzy and her GBN classmate Cristin Monaghan were photographed with Cardinal Francis George.
Lizzy’s dress included a pink top.
“Well, pink and green are Lizzy’s colors,” affirmed her father, “so those colors continue to represent her bright smile.
“You can catch me most mornings hitting the Edens (expressway) with a hot cup of coffee in Lizzy’s pink and green travel mug,” said the Chicago commuting executive.
The pink roses out front were a gift from Tom Seeberg’s administrative assistant.
“Lizzy’s big, bright smile is forever with us,” he said.
“She continues to be an important member of our family. Not a day goes by without some “Lizzy moment” to inspire the best in us.”
Of the 40 steps to the top of Lizzy House: “Wow,” said Tom Seeberg, “I hadn’t caught that before.
“I just knew it was a lot of steps, just as in many things in life.”
The Lizzy Seeberg Volunteer House is located at 5069 W. Jackson Boulevard.
Donations are encouraged to the Christ the King Jesuit College Prep, Lizzy Seeberg Memorial Fund, 5088 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60644.
Call 773-413-3509.Visit www.ctkjesuit.org//