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 )
Every year, we celebrate the spirit of service in Chicago at the Chicago Cares Star Awards Gala. This is our chance to thank you for strengthening Chicago through your commitment to children, seniors, adults and the environment. On this exciting evening, Chicago Cares will toast our volunteers, leaders, community partners and sponsors.
Everyone is invited to attend this fun-filled evening where we pause to recognize the best-of-the-best, the people who are raising the bar for what it means to be a volunteer. Of course, the most committed volunteers are often too humble to point themselves out for recognition, so we need your help!
If you’ve seen a Chicago Cares Star in action, please take a moment and nominate him or her for the 2012 Awards. Whether it was a positive attitude during unexpected circumstances, a kind word when you felt overwhelmed or an innovative idea that has left a lasting impact; we want to know who in the Chicago Cares community is inspiring you!
2011 Volunteer Star: Ildifonso Fuentes Nominate a 2012 Volunteer Star!
2011 Leader Star: Melissa Degleffetti Nominate a 2012 Leader Star!
2011 Leader Team Star: USG Serve-a-thon Team Nominate a 2012 Leader Team StarRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Things are buzzing here at Chicago Cares! We’ve just completed an awesome Serve-a-thon that saw over 5,000 volunteers working together to improve the lives of Chicago Public School students and now we’re gearing up to welcome service leaders from around the country as Chicago hosts Turning Point 2012: The National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS).
A program of Points of Light, NCVS is the world’s largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, corporate and government sectors. If your organization deals with volunteers in any capacity, NCVS is an opportunity you don’t want to miss! Here are just a few of the ways that you can take advantage of the resources that will be offered right here in Chicago.
Excellence in education is at the core of all volunteer programs. We know that when students are taught about their community needs and challenged to help address those needs through service learning programs, we are building a foundation of civic-minded adults for the future. These conference sessions will help you discover how service learning curriculum can help us meet the needs of our students and our communities.
Faith Based Volunteer Programs
Working for the common good and caring for others is a sustaining theme for most world religions. Whether you are interested in finding out more about interfaith dialogue, building bridges between faith communities and corporations or using federal programs to help those in need, there are many workshops designed specifically to address the needs of those in faith-based volunteer programs.
Conference workshops are great but sometimes you just need something a little different. Books and Brew are book club-style sessions providing participants with an opportunity to have intimate conversations and discussions with featured authors on new and relevant books for civic engagement practitioners. If you love staying up to date on all of the latest reads about community service, this is a great opportunity to encounter some new material and share lively discussions with others in the field.
The Social Media for Social Good Preconference will cover basic and intermediate levels of social media topics including an introduction to core tools, evaluation, implementation and strategic application. With a mix of presentations, panels and small group workshops, participants will benefit from learning best practices, hearing from other organizations using these tools effectively, and have a chance to start building some plans of their own.
The generationOn Youth Summit is a FREE opportunity on Sunday, June 17, which will convene 250 young people for an afternoon of civic dialog and service-learning. Panel discussion with notable youth leaders, leadership development skill building activities and a service project to benefit the local Chicago community! Registration is required for this event and space is limited, so be sure to sign up today!
On a Budget
If you’re like us and serve at a nonprofit, then you’re probably on a budget. Conferences are great but sometimes lack of funds can prevent you from attending. Well, NCVS wants you to be able to join the conversation too! The session, Civics and Service, Helping to Drive Economy through Action, will bring together well-known speakers to discuss how civic engagement can help build a stronger economy, a more highly skilled and versatile workforce and more a productive nation. This session is free, but registration is required.
No matter who you are or what you do, there is something for you at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. We hope to see you there!
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It’s an exciting time to be in Chicago. With NATO in town there are political powerhouses around every corner, community organizers spreading their messages with megaphones and grassroots protesters practicing their first amendment rights.
Unfortunately, all of this energy has the potential to cause delays and frustrations as you travel to your Chicago Cares projects across the city. There are no direct restrictions at any of our sites, however with security on high-alert for all mass transit options and closures within the Interstate system, it’s a good idea to give yourself extra time to navigate the city.
The CTA has created a helpful webpage where you can find the schedule of necessary bus re-routes. The ‘L’ is expected to run normally since it operates on a private right-of-way. However, an increase in riders may cause some delays, so it’s best to plan accordingly.
If you travel by Metra, be sure to take a moment to review their revised schedules. Metra has implemented a wide range of safety measures during the NATO Summit. Passengers may see an increased law enforcement presence and K-9 units.
In addition, the following safety measures apply to riders of all Metra lines during the three days (May 19, 20 and 21) of the summit:
- Riders may be subject to search and/or screening before boarding or while en route.
- Riders may carry only one bag not exceeding 15 inches square and 4 inches deep. Boxes, parcels, luggage, backpacks and bicycles will not be allowed on trains. Banned items cannot be stored at Metra stations. They must be removed or they will be disposed of.
- Riders may not carry any food on the trains. Liquids and personal effects (such as makeup) must be less than three ounces in size. This includes coffee and other beverages. Breast milk can be carried but is subject to inspection and should be declared during any screening.
- Riders may not carry any type of tools, pipes, stakes, wood or weapons, including pocket knives and pepper spray, on the trains.
- Law enforcement personnel must identify themselves and present their credentials and any weapons. Armed security guards will need to provide proper credentials and be subject to verification prior to boarding.
Failure to comply with these safety measures or instructions from law enforcement personnel, or attempted avoidance of screening, will result in ejection from the station or further police action.
To get up to the minute information about traveling in Chicago, you may want to consider signing up for Notify Chicago. This free subscription will provide you text or voicemail alerts related to traffic disruptions, weather alerts, health alerts and major incidents.
It may take a little longer but you can still have a great weekend volunteering in Chicago. Just be sure to plan your route, check for last-minute alerts and fill your iPod with some new podcasts to keep things interesting if you end up delayed.
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At the Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon, thousands of volunteers come together to paint, plant and revitalize Chicago Public Schools throughout the city. With a staff of just under 40 people, there is no way that we could coordinate all of those people on our own. That’s when our trusted Production Assistants (PAs) come to the rescue!
PAs are vital in making sure that other volunteers get the attention and direction that they need and help ensure that everyone has a great day of service! If you can’t commit to the entire day, or just prefer to serve behind-the-scenes, volunteering as a PA may be the perfect fit. There are opportunities for early birds and late starters; you can sign up for one or both shifts.
And of course, no matter what time you volunteer, all of our PAs are welcome to join us back at Daley Plaza for our evening celebration with free food, drinks and live music!
For Early Birds (6:30 am-10:00 am):
- Meet and greet registered volunteers as they sign-in for the event.
- Assist with youth and adult volunteer check-in process
- Assist with Bus Ambassador check-in
- Help with behind-the-scenes operations such as bus loading and lunch distribution.
- Welcome volunteers as they arrive
- Assist with the volunteer check-in process
- Labeling event buses
- Bus loading
- Distribute lunches to volunteers
- Welcome volunteers and provide assistance at the information tent.
- Welcome volunteers as they arrive
- Serve coffee to volunteers
- Assist volunteers at the information tent
- Welcome volunteers as they return from service projects and assist them with the sign in process.
- Assist with the bus unloading process
- Help to check-in volunteers
- Help with the set up of food and beverage tents and assist with food and beverage distribution at the after party.
- Welcome volunteers as they return to Daley Plaza
- Assist with the volunteer check-in process
- Help to serve beverages and food to volunteers as we celebrate a day of service
A few weeks ago, members of our staff were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. On Tuesday, April 24, I attended two sessions, “One Person Can Make a Difference” and “Women Forging Peace,” both of which were inspiring and eye-opening.
Panelists included Nobel Peace Prize winners and leading peace activists from across the globe. Seeing people from different cultures and walks of life interact in respectful, appreciative, and collaborative dialogue was refreshing.
The Summit was purposefully focused on youth this year. Being in a room filled with engaged students was very powerful. Through the excitement, though, the ultimate question, “What can I do about it?” loomed at all times. Thankfully, there is an answer.
Professor Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate, 1997, shared it loud and clear when she was asked how to get involved and be a part of making a difference, “Volunteer!”
Jody started as a volunteer and worked her way into a life of full-time peace advocacy. Jody recommended to everyone listening that they start by finding an issue they care about. Then, find an organization that does something for that issue and volunteer with them. Finally, continue to learn and grow and share what you learn with others.
Here’s your chance. Follow the theme of the summit and “Speak Up, Speak Out” by volunteering with Chicago Cares.
Find a project that you feel makes a difference in your community. Go to that project, volunteer your time, volunteer your energy, volunteer your mind. Be open to learning from the people who work at the organization, from the clients you are spending time with, from your volunteer leader, and from your fellow volunteers. Then do it again and talk about your experiences. Share what you’ve learned, share how it made you feel, and continue to ask questions.
My hope for peace and equality is one of the many things that drives the work I do at Chicago Cares. I hope I can help you find what you are passionate about. Come be a part of building the future of our community. Volunteer.
Today’s post is by Wendy Neuert
Director of Human Service & Community Service Partnerships
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With the start of May comes the anticipation of warmer weather, holidays, and the excitement of just 6 short weeks until summer break! And despite the temptation of trips to the beach and block parties, Chicago Cares students are excited for the special events planned at their programs. Here is a look at just a few of the fun events scheduled in the coming weeks:
Students at Sherwood School are celebrating the school year with a bowling trip on May 5th.
If you’d like to volunteer on May 12, be sure to check out the programs at Henderson Elementary that day; students will be participating in a field trip to see To the Arctic at the IMAX Theater at Navy Pier.
We hope that you can celebrate the end of the school year with Chicago Cares!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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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As part of our National Volunteer Week celebration, each department at Chicago Cares has spent some time working on a ‘Thank You Project’ to share with our amazing volunteers. We’ll be highlighting one of these projects with you each day over the next week. Today’s thank you project is from our Volunteer and Leader Services Team.
Thanks for your inspiring dedication and tremendous example to Chicago’s citizens.
Our work isn’t finished, not even by a mile
We are so grateful that we want to give you a smile,
for being there from the start.
Words cannot convey our gratitude for your thoughtful contribution.
With cheer in our hearts
for your service to Chicago’s youth, seniors, adult with disabilities, and gardens,
We thank you with this little poem
as our personal round of applause.
The credit for our good deeds firmly rests with our leaders and volunteers. Thank you!
We never could have asked
for a more dedicated volunteer
and words cannot express
how grateful we are to have you here.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with you. Thank you!
From Volunteer & Leader Services Team; Kim, Maura & Adrienne
By Anonymous with help from Volunteer & Leader Services
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As part of our National Volunteer Week celebration, each department at Chicago Cares has spent some time working on a ‘Thank You Project’ to share with our amazing volunteers. We’ll be highlighting one of these projects each day over the next week. Today’s thank you project is from our Annual Events Team.
Whether you join us each January for the Celebration of Service, sign up to help Chicago Public School students each June at Serve-a-thon, or make a point to volunteer for both of these events; we want to say, thank you!
Since our first Serve-a-thon almost 20 years ago, we have had the honor and privilege of working with tens of thousands of volunteers who believe that their time and effort can help strengthen Chicago. By spending just one day volunteering, Serve-a-thon participants have revitalized over 5,000 classrooms, created more than 1,500 inspirational murals and organized countless library books; all of this improve the learning environments at under-resourced schools throughout the city.
And your impact doesn’t end there. Each dollar that is raised at Serve-a-thon goes right back into making sure that we can offer much-needed support for hundreds of local non-profit organizations through our on-going programs.
Thank you for spending your day serving our city.
Thank you for believing that every child in Chicago deserves a safe and welcoming place to learn.
Thank you for volunteering with Chicago Cares, your service has made all the difference!
Thanks to all our dedicated volunteers, from the Annual Events Team; Laura, Claire, Jessica, Jocelyn and Violette.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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