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The Idell - McCarthy Foundation began as a vision held by Sharita Farmer Cenac while attending Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.


The first in her family to leave home to attend a four-year university on a full academic scholarship from the United Negro College Fund, Sharita understood firsthand the impact of giving and its power to change someone’s life. In her formative years she recalls being greatly influenced by the consistently generous and caring nature of her grandmother Idell Marshall.  Idell was the eldest of 12 children. She went on to marry Sharita’s grandfather James and they shared 11 children of their own. Idell passed away in 2005 surrounded by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family and friends. Her capacity to love, care, and gracefully give of herself was bestowed upon her in her final moments. 


Every student has that one teacher who has changed their life! For Sharita, that guiding light was Lawrence McCarthy. Since their first meeting, where Lawrence served as her 6th grade teacher, they have shared a special father-figure/daughter bond and sense of humor. Lawrence has served as a pivotal part of Sharita’s growth, development and transition into adulthood. With more than 20 years of listening to his wisdom, world traveling experiences, and stories of humble beginnings, Sharita gained the insight and confidence to believe that everything she ever dreamed of was possible! His generosity and consistent presence through the ups and downs of her life led to many of her “second chances”, which further ignited her desire to give back to others.


To give a second chance where needed, so that others may flourish to become who they are destined to be. 


Our core values are centered around Service, Care, Respect, Responsibility, Collaboration, Excellence,

and Innovation.


Our work is guided by three of the eight dimensions of wellness set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are (our focus):

  • Emotional / Mental

  • Environmental

  • Financial

  • Intellectual

  • Occupational

  • Physical

  • Social

  • Spiritual

Emotional &
Mental Wellness

Emotional wellness is all about understanding and respecting your feelings, values, and attitudes, as well as appreciating those of others. Having healthy emotional wellness allows you to feel confident, in control of your feelings and behaviors, and better able to manage life's challenges to feel positive and enthusiastic about your life.


Financial wellness is managing your resources to live within your means, making informed financial decisions and investments, setting realistic goals, and preparing for short-term and long-term needs or emergencies. It's important to be aware that everyone’s financial values, needs, and circumstances are unique.


Occupational wellness is balancing work and your lifestyle, building relationships with coworkers, and managing workplace stress. Finding work that is meaningful, financially rewarding, and aligned with your values, goals, lifestyle, and skills are important here. Contributing your unique gifts, skills, & talents to personally meaningful & rewarding work.


We currently only serve the Chicago-land area.