Cara Founder Tom Owens Honored by Alma Mater

Cara Staff

“Tom embodies the best of what Leo High School’s motto is all about: facta non verba…deeds, not words.” – Fr. Tom Hurley

(l to r) Leo President Dan McGrath, Principal Shaka Rawls, William Conlon, Admissions/Athletic Director Mike Holmes, Tom Owens, and Andrew McKenna

Cara founder Tom Owens received the highest honor from his alma mater, Leo High School, when he was recently given the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was the highlight of The Third Annual Leo High School Scholarship Benefit, held Tuesday, November 27 at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.

Tom (Leo Class of 1954) received the honor for his extensive philanthropy, on behalf of the all-male Catholic high school and most notably as the founder of Cara and the thousands of lives that have been permanently transformed by his vision of poverty alleviation. The scholarship benefit also marked Leo’s 92nd year of operation in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood on the city’s South Side.

“It’s not so much what Tom’s done, it’s what he’s accomplished. We are delighted that Tom chose to accept the most prestigious honor that Leo bestows,” said Leo President Dan McGrath. “He is one of our true benefactors, but he’s as humble as he is generous and wouldn’t think of seeking recognition for his good works. All of us involved at Leo believe he’s the perfect choice for the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Tom follows previous honorees, Andrew McKenna and William Conlon, whose stature in their respective industries has drawn support and financial commitment from a Who’s Who of Chicagoans embracing Leo’s mission. As Tom was honored, he joined McKenna and Conlon in a discussion on what being an alumni of Leo means to them before he was given a vintage Leo sweater (one of just three made for the Lifetime Achievement Awardees).

The evening included a cocktail reception and seated dinner followed by a program featuring a performance from the world-renowned Leo Choir, an invocation from Tom’s dear friend and long-time Cara supporter Fr. Tom Hurley of Old St. Patrick’s Church, remarks from Leo President Dan McGrath, and a panel discussion featuring current Leo students, Admissions/Athletic Director Mike Holmes, and Principal Shaka Rawls on the topic of the life of today’s Leo student. The entire evening was emceed by Ravi Baichwal of ABC 7 Chicago.

Since opening its doors in 1926, Leo High School has sought to educate generations of young men who have gone on to serve and create a better, stronger Chicago.