HISTORY OF SURVIVE ALIVE
The foundation was formed in 1989 as a vehicle to donations
and in-kind contributions from the private sector to the design,
construction and operating support of the current Survive
Alive House at 1010 S. Clinton Street.
At the time, the foundation was formed and a small makeshift
facility had been built by firemen in a firehouse on Orleans
Street near North Avenue. The house and the firemen who used
it, mostly in their spare time to instruct area children,
had nowhere near the outreach that the current facility does.
Two of the firemen, Jack Schneidwind and Joe Figel, along
with the commissioner at the time, Louis Gallante, contacted
representatives of local businesses and other professional
organizations to help them figure out how to create a bigger,
more effective program.
Jim Werner, past president, Bernie Schroeder an executive
with Brach Candy, and members of the Chicagoland McDonald's
owners formed the foundation and the first board. Right out
of the box, that group began contacting major insurance companies
to start raising funds for a new, interactive Survive Alive
House. At the same time, the City of Chicago committed a shell
of a building at 1010 South Clinton to the program. The building
had been a 911 call center and it was being abandoned. The
main call center area was perfect in size for a 3/4-scale
Mark Kelly, businessman, was contacted to get involved, join
the board and become the Survive Alive House architect. Over
the course of about six months, Mr. Kelly worked with a city
architect to create the design and construction drawings for
The city committed to creating the necessary support facilities
for the public education staff that would eventually be committed
As the construction drawings were completed and run through
the building permit process, the fundraising committee had
secured donations of nearly $200,000 to build the Survive
Alive House facility. Only a portion of those funds needed
to be used after the general contractor Morse Diesel agreed
to volunteer all necessary labor to build the project and,
through their subcontractor and suppliers, much of the materials.
The facility opened in the fall of 1990 and the foundation
had a healthy bank balance that has since been used to fund
additional fire safety programs, support the efforts of the
public education unit at 1010 S. Clinton. Fund grants that
help schools arrange transportation to the Survive Alive House
facility, and generally propagate the messages of fire safety
and prevention in the communities of Chicago.
Since the house was completed and additional houses were not
in demand, our focus has shifted somewhat. The focus has expanded
to an audience the goes beyond elementary school-aged children
to adults and businesses.