Celebration of Service
As part of our month-long service in honor of Dr. King, children at many Chicago Cares programs participated in special activities. These MLK special projects shared the legacy of Dr. King with a new generation and promoting the ideas of peace, freedom, and love. “I’ve never seen the students so engaged in a book or activity” community partner Whitney Nash at Mercy Housing shared. Together, children and volunteers read books, participated in discussions, created murals and “I Have a Dream” mobiles to honor Dr. King.
To many, the most meaningful part of the activities was learning what dreams these young children have: safe neighborhoods, clean parks, a college education, and an end to pollution, animal cruelty, and violence. Many children spoke with volunteers about ways to make peaceful change in their lives and share these beliefs with their friends, family, and neighbors. We can only hope that these children continue to follow their dreams!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This year, Chicago Cares has had the opportunity to partner with Mercy Housing in many incredible ways: we started two new ongoing children’s programs, hosted Cbeyond for a corporate volunteer event, and facilitated the World’s Fair activities for Celebration of Service.
A few weeks ago, corporate volunteers from Cbeyond committed their afternoon to Mercy Housing, providing hours of work in the community garden. Volunteers worked in the warm spring sun to build two new planter beds, clean out existing beds and prepare the garden for their amazing community garden.
During summer months, students and residents tend to the garden, selling much of the produce to neighbors and local businesses. In addition to the hours of help provided by Cbeyond volunteers, “Mercy Housing saved more than $2000 in mulch and other garden supplies; money that can now be spent on more books and school supplies for the 30 students participating in after-school programs at the site,” said Resident Services Manager Whitney Nash. Cbeyond will return to Mercy Housing in October, working to improve the community center where the after-school programs meet.
Cbeyond volunteers are just a few of many volunteers who’ve impacted the children at Mercy Housing this year. Individual volunteers spent every Thursday evenings at Read-with-Me and Kids Create, reading books and creating unique art projects with the after-school students at Mercy Housing.
Volunteers logged more than 160 hours of enrichment to the children, providing encouragement, support, and individual attention that the children so deserve. Because of these programs, staff members at Mercy Housing are able to focus their after-school classes on reading, writing, and math skills knowing that the art component was covered by Chicago Cares.
While our ongoing school programs ended on May 31st, volunteers have the opportunity to attend Garden Explorers at Mercy Housing this summer, where they’ll help the students tend the garden and then participate in a garden-related activity.
We hope you’ll come see for yourself how great our partnership is with Mercy Housing this summer or fall!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Meet Melvin Bridgmon, your May Chicago Cares Leader of the Month. Melvin has been a leader with Chicago Cares for three years, serving as both a Volunteer Leader and a Primary Leader for Serve-a-thon and Celebration of Service. Melvin has been a leader at his former elementary school, Betsy Ross in Washington Park, twice.
Many of his experiences including being a veteran and being homeless have led him to Chicago Cares as well as the other organizations of service where he spends his time. Melvin is the President/CEO of Thomas Bridgmon Outreach Ministries. Melvin started this outreach ministry in 2009, which helps address the hunger issues homeless individuals experience on the weekends. He is currently a student at Olive-Harvey College majoring in Computer Sciences. We are proud to have Melvin as a leader and we are inspired by his dedication to Annual Events and his overall service to the Chicago community.
Chicago Cares: Melvin, can you share with us how long you have been volunteering with Chicago Cares and what projects you have led?
Melvin: I have been a volunteer leader for three years. My first role as a leader was leading the letter murals project at Scott Joplin during Serve-a-thon 2010. The following year, I lead the same project at Betsy Ross during Serve-a-thon 2011. I was very proud to participate at Betsy Ross because I am an alumnus of Betsy Ross. In 2012, I returned to Betsy Ross as a Primary Leader during the Celebration of Service.
Chicago Cares: The impact that volunteers such yourself can have serving in their own communities is tremendous! What has motivated you to devote your time to volunteering and leadership?
Melvin: As a veteran and formerly homeless individual, I received help from people who cared about my condition. Their commitment inspired me to return the wealth of help through volunteering, by feeding the homeless, reading with children and tutoring individuals on using computer programs. Although Chicago Cares is my home, I volunteer with the Chicago Food Depository on food recovery events at McCormick Place. It is our job to help our neighbors.
Chicago Cares: What is your favorite neighborhood to serve as a volunteer?
Melvin: I really don’t have a specific neighborhood. Since I am on public transportation, I volunteer in an area that doesn’t require a long commute.
Chicago Cares: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an Annual Events leader? How did you overcome it?
Melvin: I had a bad experience the first year I led a letter mural project. I was short of volunteers in order to finish my project on time. I had to work on two of the murals simultaneously. And a few of my volunteers claimed they had to use the wash room. I was left with four murals staring me in the face. Unbeknownst to me, they recruited their friends to help me. When my volunteers came back to work. They told me they had been watching me work. One of my volunteers got me a seat and told me to sit down and eat my lunch. Another volunteer took the leadership role. She told everyone else to direct all questions to her. It was a bad situation that turned out to be great.
Chicago Cares: What advice would you share with others who are interested in becoming a volunteer leader?
Melvin: Always place yourself the position of the person you are leading. Be compassionate, everyone’s time is precious. With that being said, volunteer your skills unselfishly. The reward is serving the best interest of our neighbors. Inspire everyone around you no matter how bad you feel. Sooner or later someone will cheer you on and make your day.
Congratulations to Melvin for being May’s Leader of the Month!
If you are interested in learning more about being a leader with our Annual Events Service Team like Melvin, contact Kim Thomas or call 312-780-0800 ext. 125. Registration is open for the 19th Annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon on June 9th, 2012!
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Last week we celebrated National Volunteer Week by taking time each day to thank the tens of thousands of you who help make our work possible.
Whether you volunteer through your company, lead an ongoing project, give a monthly donation, or all of the above; we appreciate all you do for Chicago Cares!
Many departments throughout Chicago Cares took time to create these fun projects, each bringing their own message and unique brand of creativity. Whether you missed a day or just need a good reason to smile, here’s a look back at our celebration of National Volunteer Week.
- Monday: Thank You, Annual Event Volunteers
- Tuesday: Thank You, Corporate Volunteers
- Wednesday: Thank You, Education Volunteers
- Thursday: Thank You, Donors
- Friday: Cheers to Chicago’s Best AND Thank You, Human Services and Environment Volunteers
- Saturday: Thank You, Youth in Service Volunteers
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Thank you to everyone who made the 2012 Celebration of Service in honor of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. such an amazing day of volunteering.
One of the most common questions we get asked after big events like Celebration of Service is, “How do you do it?”
With a staff of just under 40, it quickly becomes clear that we aren’t doing it on our own. Yes, we do have a dedicated staff who are willing to put in long hours to support the programs that we believe in. But we also have a secret weapon: Production Assistants!
Production Assistants are volunteers who agree to start the day extra early and take care of all the behind the scenes work that large events like Celebration of Service require. They help at the kick-off and/or wrap-up celebrations on the day of event and help bring together thousands of volunteers for check-in, inspirational ceremonies and more.
You may only see a Production Assistant once during the day, so they can be easy to forget. They may be standing in the snow for hours directing buses, making sure you get your goody bag at check-in or handing you a nice cup of coffee and welcoming you to the event.
For the 2012 Celebration of Service we had nearly 200 Production Assistants ready to serve you at Union Station and supporting our staff in running the event.
What you do behind the scenes, makes what we do possible!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Click Here to follow all the Celebration of Service action on our live blog! You’ll be able to get updates from the volunteers at 40 different sites, see photos of volunteers at work and hear how things are going for our teams across the city. If you’ll be busy serving, take some time to read and enjoy the live blog when you get home to find out how other volunteers spent their day!
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hopefully, you’re all registered and ready to join us this Saturday at Celebration of Service! This is going to be an inspiring day as we take time to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and then go out into the city to help keep his dream alive through our service.
Below is a quick checklist to help you get your day of service off to a great start:
- Dress well. This doesn’t mean wear your finest, it means dress well for the work you’ll be doing! There’s a very good chance that you’ll end your day with some paint, glitter, glue or scrambled eggs on your shirt; so dress comfortably in clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Plan your route. Self-pay parking near Union Station is available in numerous public parking lots. However, we recommend taking public transportation to Union Station. Call 836.7000 from all area codes for CTA, Pace and Metra routes/schedules or visit www.transitchicago.com.
- Get some sleep. It’s going to be an exciting and full day, so make sure you hit the hay a little early on Friday night so that you have plenty of energy to enjoy all of the experiences the Celebration of Service has to offer.
- Eat breakfast. We do not serve breakfast at the Celebration of Service Opening Ceremony. There will be coffee (thanks to our wonderful friends at Metropolis Coffee) but you’ll need more than caffeine to keep you going until lunch, so eat up!
- Pack your lunch. If you pre-ordered your box lunch from Subway, you will be able to pick that up after you check-in. If not, please remember to pack a lunch and bring it with you to your site. No lunches will be delivered to project sites, so don’t forget that little brown bag.
- Be Kind. Almost everyone serving you on Saturday is a volunteer, just like you. Our Production Assistants are volunteers who get up extra early to make sure that you can check-in, pick up your goodie bag, have your questions answered and find your bus. Our Volunteer Leaders have donated many hours to learn the specific needs of your site and get specialized training to lead you well. So please be patient when the inevitable bump-in-the-road has you stalled for a moment. We know they’ll do their best to help you have a great day of service.
- Know the hashtag. We’ll be live blogging throughout the entire day and we want to know what you’re up to! Use #chicares for your tweet to show up in our live blog feed, or you can mention us @chicagocares. Give details of your project, share an inspiring quote from the ceremony or take a picture with some new friends; your participation will help make our blog extra great! To follow the blog or read through it when you get home, visit www.chicagocares.org beginning Saturday morning.
- Have an open mind. Whether you’re serving a new population of clients, getting to know volunteers who seem different from you or finding someone to sit next to on the bus; you may find yourself in a situation that makes you a bit uncomfortable. Remember, you have well-trained leaders ready to help you at your project site and you’re surrounded by fellow volunteers who, just like you, want to make a difference in Chicago.
- Tell us what you think. At the end of the day you’ll be given a short survey, please take the time to fill this out and return it to your Bus Ambassador. We at Chicago Cares look through each and every one of these surveys, taking all of your feedback under careful consideration. We want to provide you with the most meaningful volunteer experience possible, so need to hear from YOU!
- Plan your next project. We hope that participating in the Celebration of Service is just the beginning of a year filled with community service. You can find more than 215 volunteer opportunities each month on our opportunity calendar.
We can’t wait to see you on Saturday. If you have any other questions, feel free to check out our Celebration of Service FAQs.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Students, seniors, adults with disabilities and veterans facing homelessness will all get some much needed support thanks to the work of 3,000 volunteers on January 14.
Every Celebration of Service volunteer—whether you’re cooking a meal, leading a group of volunteers or running check-in as a production assistant—should feel proud. You chose to give up your Saturday to support your community and make a real difference in the lives of fellow Chicagoans!
Throughout the year, Chicago Cares creates programs that serve those in need. Through our programs, volunteers serve meals to the homeless, run afterschool programs for kids, tend community gardens, spend quality time with seniors and much more. Chicago Cares relies on the generosity of individuals like you to fund these and hundreds of other programs.
Celebration of Service is our version of a fundraising gala—except that instead sitting down to a gourmet meal, we ask that you grab a skillet and serve breakfast to those in need. Instead of bidding on silent auction items, we ask that you invite your friends and family to support our work by making a donation.
Fundraising by Celebration of Service volunteers supports the work Chicago Cares does all year long. We will invest the money you raise directly into programs and building our capacity to serve more Chicagoans in need. This year your donations could help:
- Sponsor Chicago Public High School students as they design service projects
- Purchase supplies for a healthy cooking program for families living in poverty
- Support a U.S. Citizenship tutoring class
- Provide training for 25 volunteers to lead new programs across the city
- Buy practical household items for low-income seniors to win as BINGO prizes
- Fund transportation for a group of south-side students to visit the Shedd Aquarium
We hope that you’ll choose to participate in Celebration of Service fundraising over the next week. Event participants can start by sending emails to friends and family asking them to support Chicago Cares using our easy templates. Share your experience with your friends and family—let them know why you’re giving up your Saturday to volunteer with us.
Where you choose to give your time and money is an expression of your most personal beliefs, values and passions. We are honored that you choose to give your time to Chicago Cares projects. Please consider taking your dedication a step further by asking your friends and family to support our work.
Not able to participate in Celebration of Service, but want to support our programs? Make a donation today or consider holding a fundraising event benefiting Chicago Cares. Contact Development Manager, Sarah Holliday for more information.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The last week of the year is often a time of reflection, as we begin to think about where we’ve been and where we’re going. At Chicago Cares, one of the ways that we do this is through the Celebration of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This event reminds us that, through common vision and cooperation, our nation was transformed for the better. It also inspires us all to continue to seek justice for the oppressed, help the needy and serve our community in meaningful ways.
We invite you to make the new year even brighter by joining us at the Celebration of Service on January 14.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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