CAAN began in Tim Pierce’s and Eric Schor’s home on a cold March 2005 evening: six people sitting around the dining room table talking about how hard it is for LGBTQ people to connect in the suburbs. The acronym CAAN came up early in the discussion; we began to realize that there was a lot that we “CAAN” do to make our lives better. We also realized that we “CAAN” make our lives more visible and let everyone know that LGBTQ people do live in the suburbs of Chicago. In April 2005, we met at Joliet Junior College; the seeds of a community center began to take hold. As we met monthly at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Joliet, we came up with a name (Community Alliance and Action Network), and created a mission statement: to build community and personal alliances to alleviate the effects of discrimination due to sexual orientation and/or gender identification. We began to form committees, and a core group of people willing to dedicate their time and energy grew. From these core individuals, Tim, Paul, Stefanie, Gini and Pete formed the first board with the goal of getting paperwork filed to become a not-for-profit organization, and to find space to open the community center. In August 2005, the State of Illinois granted C.A.A.N. not-for-profit corporate status, and we have been an IRS 501(c)(3) public charity organization since August 2005. C.A.A.N. opened the doors to the offices where we maintained the Sally Howland Memorial Library, on February 4, 2006. Our first sponsored event was the film "Fish Can’t Fly", produced and directed by Tom Murray who attended the screening. In April 2015 renovation began on the Barber Building where we maintained the library. We are looking for a new place to house the library.
The LGBTQ community has new challenges and opportunities in the 21st century. Multiple pride celebrations in small towns and suburbs have popped up over the past few years. Joliet has one too now. CAAN will incorporate Joliet PrideFest to expand its mission.