Not only is Serve-a-thon Chicago’s largest single day of community service, but it’s also Chicago Cares’ largest fundraiser. And we approach this event as we do all other things, by rolling up our sleeves and taking action. In addition to requesting your service on June 15, we also request your financial support so that Chicago Cares can continue to mobilize volunteers to address our city’s most pressing challenges year-round.
With the right tools, fundraising for a cause you are passionate about is simpler and less time-consuming than you think. Here are some tips to help you with the process!
- Tell your story. Explain to people why you support Chicago Cares and what it means to you personally. People want to know that you are committed to the cause and will be happy to support you because of it!
- Build the buzz. Talk up your participation in Serve-a-thon—in person, in email, and through social media! “Like” Chicago Cares on Facebook, connect with us on Twitter, or post a note on LinkedIn encouraging your network to donate in your name. And, if you want to give your contacts a feel for the event and all that you’ll be accomplishing, this video really captures it.
- Lead by example. Sponsor yourself by making a donation to get your fundraising started. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are a donor as well.
Now that you’ve got the tools, please consider participating in Chicago Cares’ 20th Anniversary Challenge. Fundraisers generating $250 or more will be entered into a prize raffle each week.
How to raise $250 easily:
- Start by making a donation of $20 yourself
- Ask your spouse, significant other, or roommate for $20
- Ask five friends for $20
- Ask your parents for $10 each
- Ask 10 people from your religious organization,
social club, or professional group for $5
- Ask four coworkers for $10
But don’t stop here… now that you know how easy it is to become a successful fundraiser, keep the momentum going and reach out to your entire network of friends, family, and colleagues. Don’t forget to identify matching-gift opportunities to double your impact. And know that the Sun-Times Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust will match donations to Chicago Cares through July 5 up to a total of $10,000. Up to $1,000 can be matched per individual donation!
Soon, you’ll be on your way to becoming a champion fundraiser!
Patty White is Vice President, Corporate Engagement Strategy and Development for Chicago Cares.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Primary Volunteer Leaders play a critical role at Serve-a-thon, managing a team of Volunteer Leaders at schools, parks, and agencies who in turn oversee groups of volunteers ranging from 30 up to 250 people. Fostering teamwork, ensuring a successful project and managing supplies are only a few of their responsibilities. So why become a Primary Leader? We asked a new member of the Serve-a-thon leader team for his story!
Ritesh Tipnis became a Chicago Cares Volunteer Leader this past January, after clocking in more than 150 hours at our volunteer events. This will be his first year serving as a Primary Leader for Serve-a-thon, where he will be managing a team of three leaders and 40 volunteers at Mary Hartwell Apartments on Saturday, June 15.
Chicago Cares: Ritesh, how long have you been involved with Chicago Cares? What was your first experience as a volunteer?
Ritesh: I have been volunteering with Chicago Cares since September 2012. The very first project that I attended was ‘What’s The Word’ at Lakeview Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. I can still recall how apprehensive I was that evening, as I first walked in, not sure if I would be up to the task. But as the evening progressed, I realized that it was one of the most enjoyable things I had done since moving to Chicago. I owe that to the Chicago Cares Volunteer Leader and the residents who participate in this activity. They welcomed me in their circle and made sure I was involved. I have served more than 150 hours with Chicago Cares since then, but it remains one of my favorite programs and I suspect it always will.
Chicago Cares: Moving from the role of a Volunteer to a Volunteer Leader represents a change; what was the transition like for you?
Ritesh: Seamless. I have been fortunate to serve alongside some outstanding Leaders who not only make the project enjoyable for the clients, but also for the volunteers. At the same time, they educate the volunteers about the need and the clients. I have learned a lot by just observing and my respect for them keeps growing. When I see someone like Leader Wilson Chow do what he does, it not only inspires, but energizes me. I have tried to use all of this knowledge to function as a better Leader.
I have always believed that one does not have to hold a title to be a Leader. Anyone can lead and everyone should. Leadership is by example, and in all of my projects, I have tried to ensure that the clients as well as my fellow volunteers have fun. It is a similar philosophy to when you actually carry the title of a Volunteer Leader.
Chicago Cares: What are some of the most challenging aspects of being a leader?
Ritesh: As a Leader you are representing the clients, the fellow volunteers, and also Chicago Cares. It is a huge responsibility to ensure that you succeed on each front.
Chicago Cares: So, do you think you will be able to apply your Chicago Cares leadership experience to other aspects of your life?
Ritesh: Why just leadership? I know that I am applying my Chicago Cares volunteering experience in other aspects of my life. Even though it may sound cliché, this experience has made me a better person. It has enhanced my sense of empathy, patience, and understanding. It has enabled me to explore skills I never knew I had. It has filled my life with wonder and truly made me believe in miracles. But most importantly, it has shown me how precious life is, not just your own, but others as well.
Chicago Cares: What advice or tips would you give to someone who is considering being a Chicago Cares Volunteer Leader?
Ritesh: I would start by reminding them that just as volunteering is not an obligation, it is also not a right. It is a privilege. No matter how many projects they may end up leading during their time with Chicago Cares, they should never lose sight of this fact. Our clients trust us and we owe it to them to give them and the project our 100 percent. A Leader has to not only ensure that for themselves, but also for the team of volunteers. The best way to do that is leading by example.
Chicago Cares: What are you excited about for Serve-a-thon this year?
Ritesh: I am excited for the project I am doing tonight; Serve-a-thon is still weeks away! But jokes aside, Serve-a-thon is our flagship event and to be a part of it is one of the highlights of my year. June 15 can’t come soon enough.
Think you have what it takes to be a volunteer leader with Chicago Cares for Serve-a-thon? Contact Elise Cochran to learn more.
Ritesh has logged more than 150 hours at 40-plus Chicago Cares projects throughout the city. Stay updated on all of his volunteer experiences by checking out his blog at: riteshtipnis.blogspot.com.
Rich Jablonski is a coordinator of Corporate Volunteer Programs for Chicago Cares.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Serve-a-thon is just 36 days away, and I’ve got some exciting news to share: Chicago Cares and the Clinton Foundation have announced that Chelsea Clinton will make remarks at Chicago Cares’ Serve-a-thon kick-off on June 15 in Daley Plaza.
This element is sure to make our 20th Annual Serve-a-thon that much more memorable and exciting. Register today!
Bridget Altenburg is the Executive Director of Chicago Cares.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Chicago Cares’ Serve-a-thon is just 43 days away and, this year, we’re working to recruit 5,000 volunteers to help transform the city’s neighborhoods through volunteer projects. Here are the top five reasons to sign up today:
- Chicago Cares’ Serve-a-thon is the largest single day of service in Chicago. What a powerful experience to come together with so many people to make an immediate and direct impact on the city.
- This is a significant opportunity for you to make a statement. What better way to show your commitment to making Chicago stronger than by taking action?
- Your participation not only supports Chicago on June 15, but also year-round. Chicago Cares is the city’s leading service organization and funds raised from Serve-a-thon support more than 250 monthly group service projects Chicago Cares facilitates addressing a range of Chicago’s most critical issues. When you register, sign up for the 20th Anniversary Challenge as well!
- There’s a big party! Following our day of service, we’ll gather on Daley Plaza for a celebration featuring food, drinks, and live music.
- Chicago needs us more than ever. Many of the city’s neighborhoods have been challenged by violence. While a variety of things need to be done to solve these issues, volunteer service is central to the answer. Serve-a-thon is a jumping off point for Chicago Cares’ expanded youth programming throughout the summer and beyond.
Together, let’s be the solution! Register today.
Jessica Krueger is the manager of Annual Events for Chicago Cares.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This week has special meaning for us at Chicago Cares.
For one, it’s National Volunteer Week. Established nearly 40 years ago, National Volunteer Week focuses attention on the impact and power of volunteerism by inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to seek out ways to engage their communities. As we reflect on our volunteers’ many contributions, we celebrate your service and are humbled by your commitment. Thank you!
What’s more, on Monday we celebrated the twenty-second anniversary of our very first project, which took place on Earth Day back in 1991. Since then, it’s amazing to think about all of the volunteers Chicago Cares has mobilized, critical needs we’ve addressed, clients we have served, and nonprofit partner organizations we have supported to make Chicago stronger.
As you reflect on your commitment to volunteerism during this special week, I encourage you to continue making Chicago stronger for our youth and other community members: Join us for the 20th Annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon, the city’s largest single day of service! We’re introducing a lot of exciting programmatic elements this year, and the event’s sure to make a significant mark—on our city, on those we serve and on each and every one of us, personally.
It’s hard to believe, but Chicago Cares’ Serve-a-thon will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year on June 15. When I reflect back on the communities served and volunteers mobilized since 1994, I’m humbled by all that Chicago Cares—and those who have rallied with and around us—have been able to achieve.
This summer, our children need us more than ever. Many of the city’s neighborhoods have been challenged by violence, and these problems are often magnified in the summer when children no longer have the structure or support of their schools. While many things need to be done to solve these challenges, volunteer service is central to the answer. That’s why Chicago Cares will leverage Serve-a-thon as a natural platform from which to launch expanded programming during the critical summer months and beyond—providing at-risk youth with a safe and structured learning environment, and Chicagoans at large with an outlet to come together and make a difference through action.
Information is forthcoming about all of the ways to get involved but, for now, I encourage you to take the first step by registering for the 20th Annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon, showing your commitment through action and financial support.
Together, let’s be the solution!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
June 9, 2012 saw over 4,300 volunteers come together, dedicating more than 20,000 hours of service to 24 sites across the city. Our efforts had a meaningful impact on the lives of 15,000 Chicago Public School students and raised over $625,000 to support the more than 200 group volunteer programs Chicago Cares provides every month.
Chicago Cares strives to provide every volunteer with a day of positive, meaningful service and to make that happen it is important that we get feedback from our volunteers and partner schools. All Serve-a-thon participants are asked to complete evaluations to help us continually improve upon this annual event.
Our staff takes the time to review each and every evaluation so that we can better understand the successes and challenges experienced at Serve-a-thon. We use the collected information as a roadmap in future planning, ensuring that we take steps to address any issues that arose and continue to incorporate those practices that provided the best experience for our volunteers and partners.
Below is a summary of the information collected through this year’s Serve-a-thon evaluation. We want to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey, your participation will help to ensure that Chicago Cares can continue to bring innovative and meaningful service opportunities to people throughout our city!
2012 Serve-a-thon Evaluation Feedback
Selected Survey Quotes from Volunteers
- “I really enjoyed myself. It was my first time giving back to the community.”
- “Everybody was co-operative AND worked very hard.”
- “Painting projects were too large to accomplish.”
- “The planter project was awesome. It gave me great satisfaction in building a project from the ground up to completion. The finished project and beautiful flowers placed in the planters made the school look better.”
- “Impressed with how much the school appreciated our help.”
- “Was pretty good. Could have used actual paint brushes and dropcloths. (Both are reuseable when cleaned) Also, provide a 5 minute painting demo from an actual painter, lots of people have no idea what they’re doing.”
- “We were the stair masters!”
- “It was a great experience and a great feeling to know many people benefit from our work!”
- “It’s a great networking opportunity and met great, wonderful, and talented people.”
- “Overall it was great. Nice to see the teachers, students and other staff from the school at the event.”
Selected Quotes from School Principals
“You’re not just here painting walls today, you are changing lives. When everyone came on the buses I’m sure they saw boarded up buildings. On the news every night you hear about all of the bad things that are happening in Englewood but there’s a lot of good happening in Englewood, too. Especially today, [Serve-a-thon] is one of the best things that could ever happen for our students.” -Eric Dockery, Principal, Dewey Academy
“It has been an awesome day! It means so much to have volunteers come in and contribute their time to change the culture and climate here at our school. They’re really making it better for our students and our community.” -Sonja Spiller, Principal, Jackie Robinson Elementary
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Meet Toyia Hemingway, your Chicago Cares Leader of the Month for July! Toyia works in sales for Moneris Solutions and has been a volunteer leader with Chicago Cares since last year, taking part in Corporate Volunteer Programs and Annual Events. We are proud to have Toyia as our July Leader of the Month.
Chicago Cares: Toyia, can you share with us how long you have been volunteering with Chicago Cares and what project you lead?
Toyia: I am not currently leading a project. I took the leader training last year and my first project was at Lambs Farm. It was so enjoyable that I wanted to do more. (Note: Toyia was most recently a leader for Serve-a-thon)
Chicago Cares: It is wonderful that you are so excited about the communities you volunteer in! What has been your motivation for your commitment to volunteering and leadership?
Toyia: I volunteer because I enjoy it. Chicago is a great city, yet some of our population needs help. None of us can do it all but if we each give back just a little, we can work to make things a better for everyone. I believe that if I can do my part, it will be a start.
Chicago Cares: What has been your favorite project to lead?
Toyia: Lambs Farm, because it was a challenge. It was very physical work on a hot day but it was exhilarating to see the results of our efforts at the end of the day.
Chicago Cares: What advice would you share with others who are interested in becoming a Corporate Volunteer Programs leader?
Toyia: Before the day of the event, become as informed as possible about your project. Read everything, ask questions and become very comfortable with your Chicago Cares Staff member. Once you get on site, talk to the site contacts. Let them get to know you and to become comfortable with you. You are there to help them but you are working with them for a common goal. If you are the project leader, you will need to be comfortable with all aspects of the project and your volunteer leaders. You will be the “go to” person so be as prepared as you can be. You will have a long day but your team will be as enthusiastic as you are, so be sure to set the right tone. Everyone will have fun if you are having fun!
Congratulations to Toyia for being July’s Leader of the Month!
If you are interested in learning more about being a leader with our Corporate Volunteer Programs like Toyia, contact Kim Thomas or call 312.780.0800 ext. 125.
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June has been an exciting month for Chicago Cares. In just 30 days, our staff has had the honor of working with over 9,000 volunteers who gave their time to help strengthen the city of Chicago. Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who make our work possible. Your excitement to serve fuels us every day, urging us to find new, meaningful ways to meet critical needs in our city.
Volunteers in ongoing programs continued to serve children, adults, seniors and the environment through interactive projects. Whether it was preparing a meal, leading a discussion group, chaperoning a field trip or maintaining a community garden, Chicago Cares volunteers readily answered the call to serve their neighbors with kindness and compassion. The dedication of volunteers with our ongoing programs reminds us that at the heart of all service is the belief that caring relationships can change the world.
During Serve-a-thon we saw thousands of volunteers come together on one day to focus on a single goal; make our schools more welcoming to students and communities. Standing in the sea of volunteers, you could feel the excitement as we all sacrificed our Saturday to serve under-resourced students. In his remarks at the opening ceremony, CPS Principal Robert Lazers shared the story of a girl who could only comprehend the transformation of her school as a magical event. He told volunteers, “all of you here are as magical as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and all the other mystical beings who make children’s lives better overnight.” Annual Event volunteers teach us that together, we can do so much more.
Chicago Cares Corporate Volunteer Programs regularly help companies meet their community goals through service. This month we saw employees from the Big Ten Network, Deloitte, Hilton Worldwide, Aon and Hyatt mobilize to restore beaches, plant gardens and provide facilities improvements at schools and social service agencies throughout Chicago. Corporate Volunteers encourage us to look forward to a day when the success of a company can be measured by their social impact and not just their bottom line.
Through the National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS), volunteers from around the country donated their time to help provide vital community garden programs to food deserts in Chicago through the Seeds for Change program. Together, we built raised beds, planted vegetables, constructed sheds and packed 500 community garden kits to be delivered to Chicago Public Schools. Although many of the participants may never meet one of these students, they came to each project excited and ready to serve. Sharing a volunteer experience with NCVS attendees confirmed that our neighbors are not just the people down the street. As a country we must all work together, with common vision and singular purpose to meet the needs of America.
Thank you to each and every volunteer who took the time to participate in Chicago Cares opportunities this month. You have inspired us to raise the bar for community service and reminded us, once again, that People are the Answer.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By “helped,” I mean I stayed out of the way of some of the most wonderful, talented soldiers any lieutenant had ever been lucky enough to lead. It was 1996 and my unit was with the 1st Armored Division in Bosnia. We were there to build a bridge across the Sava River between Croatia and Bosnia, enforcing the Dayton Peace Accords and improving freedom of movement so that people could vote in local elections.
Everything went wrong, but in the end there was that bridge. It was pretty cool to look across the river and see what we had accomplished by working together. I have that same feeling today as I visit the schools where 5,000 volunteers donated their time and talents this past Saturday. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in just one day, by working together.
I see bright and inviting classrooms where there was once dirty, peeling paint and outdated color schemes. I see educational playground games that will be used by thousands of students when CPS institutes mandated recess next year. I see fresh gardens and serene landscaping that will welcome students and families into the school community. Today, over 15,000 Chicago Public School students will walk into their classrooms and wonder if elves or angels were there over the weekend.
Many of the schools you worked in this weekend have not seen fresh paint in over a decade. In these times of tight budgets, you can be sure that without your help, students and teachers would be returning to the same drab classrooms for years to come. Studies show that this type of physical improvement to schools actually increases student achievement. Take a moment and remember all that you accomplished in one Saturday. Imagine how many students will sit in that classroom, school or cafeteria over the next decade!
On behalf of thousands of students and hundreds of teachers, I want to thank you for taking time on a beautiful, sunny Saturday to help people that you will probably never meet, who may never be able to say it themselves.
As the Executive Director of Chicago Cares, I want to thank you for helping me build another bridge; a bridge that connects our perceptions with the realities that students face on a daily basis. Awareness and sensitivity to both the successes and challenges of our schools is a key factor in civic engagement. I hope that our work at Serve-a-thon not only met needs but also introduced you to the CPS system. I invite you to join Chicago Cares and continue serving these vital community hubs throughout the year, educating Chicagoans and creating advocates for the good work happening in our schools.
Today’s post is from Executive Director of Chicago Cares, Bridget AltenburgRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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