The founder of a Chicago charity called Buffalo Grove resident Steve Kaplan “an angel” when he presented a $100,000 check to her organization at the conclusion of this participation on the reality show Secret Millionaire.
Kaplan donated $225,000 in cash to three South Side organizations through his weeklong participation on the show, which aired Sunday night. He also provided funds to complete specific projects, including a lighted basketball court for members of Kids Off The Block (KOB), which works to keep youths out of gangs.
The show included peeks at Kaplan’s Buffalo Grove home, which includes an Olympic-size outdoor pool and a movie theater.
His trip to Chicago’s South Side was “probably 40 miles from my house, but it might as well be 40,000,” he said on the show.
Previously on Patch: Buffalo Grove Resident is a 'Secret Millionaire'
The hour-long episode showed Kaplan volunteering with three different organizations that he chose after he was assigned to live in a run-down home in the Roseland neighborhood. During the week, he helped build a wall in memory of youths who have died from gang violence, paint a mural, prepare a meal, wire electricity, and haul plastic barrels full of leftover hotel toiletries to benefit guests at homeless shelters.
“I never thought in my own town there were quite so many lives that need help,” he said.
After posing as an ordinary volunteer for a week, Kaplan admitted to the charities’ organizers that he had held something back.
“I’ve had some successful businesses and I’m fortunate enough to be a millionaire,” he told a crowd at H.O.M.E. (Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly), which provides home maintenance services to senior citizens.
Kaplan’s donations included $100,000 to KOB, $75,000 to Bin Donated and $50,000 to H.O.M.E.
“Oh, my goodness!” exclaimed KOB founder Diane Latiker, when Kaplan surprised her with the check.
“Steve is an angel in our neighborhood. We don’t have too many of those,” she said.
“You have no knowledge of the impact you've just created. You’re saving lives,” she told Kaplan. “You just don’t have a clue.”
The charities have already put Kaplan’s donations to use. H.O.M.E. purchased a van to transport seniors to appointments, Bin Donated upgraded its loading dock and hired an employee, and KOB purchased a van, completed the memorial wall and provided 1,000 Thanksgiving dinners to youths.
“I want you guys to know that I’ve gotten more from you than I’ve given you guys,” he told a crowd at KOB.
Kaplan told Patch last week that he provided the organizations with additional donations, including computers, which were not shown on Secret Millionaire.
“I was happy to do what I did,” he told Patch.