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 )
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 )
Volunteer leaders assemble in a conference room for training. They are excited to be there. The firm has approved their project, and in a few months time, their peers will load buses on their way to make the project they planned a reality for an organization they love. Others will attend projects planned by Chicago Cares both on site at the firm, but also across the city. The partnership means that not only does critical work get completed in the community, but through Chicago Cares, Deloitte associates learn how to build a project for an organization whose mission they themselves are passionate about.
That passion does not die out when the last bus of volunteers arrives back at the doors of the corporate office. The passion lives on, as does the service that they seeded in their colleagues that day.
Companies like Deloitte do not do corporate service as part of a marketing plan. Deloitte does Impact Day because the firm believes in service, and knows that commitment to strengthening communities strengthens their business. Deloitte knows that investing in high school students now is an investment in their future associates as well as the community they live and raise their own family in, which is why their Corporate Social Responsibility goals focus on supporting education and decreasing dropout rates.
Deloitte is just one company of many that have committed to sweat equity in the community.
Business is in the business of business. They are not in the business of philanthropy. They do not exist to solve society’s problems. And yet, many companies show up.
Many companies show up to serve and to support their communities. Many companies have Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives or foundations. Many companies are thoughtful about how they impact the world and how it feels as a person to work for an organization that invests in their community.
And many community organizations need their help to achieve their mission goals.
NCVS was an example of this. Toyota sponsored a volunteer business track at the conference. They had their logo on a few things, a car in the exhibition hall, and a chance to speak about how they engage their communities using what they know as a corporation that is both innovative and also efficient. While being a sponsor of the business track has some marketing perks, they probably won’t sell a lot more cars because of it.
So why say yes? Toyota was excited to stand on stage in front of their peers to talk about how they helped a non-profit streamline their production using proven Toyota processes so that families on the Gulf were in their new homes after 6 weeks instead of 6 months. THAT is meaningful impact.
Toyota was excited about what they had discovered and wanted the chance to share. They wanted other companies to see what they see, to learn what they learned.
It reframed for me, as an experienced non-profit professional, what a company could contribute to my organization, especially when paired with what I know about the community and the needs I see every single day. The partnership between the Non-Profit and a Corporation brings together the best of each to make the communities we share stronger.
The Chase Seeds For Change project at conference resulted in 500 garden kits that will go to 95 different schools who currently have gardens or garden space but no shovels, no seeds, no way to engage the students in using the garden as a learning tool. Now those schools have that resource. Three of those schools received gardens on their grounds because Seeds For Change volunteers built them.
Chicago Cares could not afford to pay for a single kit, a single seed, a single trowel, a single bag of soil, a single plant for Schmid Elementary School without Chase underwriting the Seeds For Change project.
It is easy these days to cast Corporations in the role of villain. It is easy to sit and type out an angry post about how marketing has gone too far. It is easy to say that companies are in it for themselves. Admit that it is a little fun to cast yourself as the David to their Goliath and to say that all funding should be purely altruistic.
But the rest of us live in the real world, with real need, and real responsibilities and very real bills to pay. When mission meets interest of a corporate funder, it would be bad business to turn away that dollar because promoting the brand through a marketing initiative makes their motives for service not pure enough for you.
As companies evolve their corporate social responsibility programs to meet business needs, non-profits can be there to marry those interests with the needs we see in the community; in fact, it is our responsibility to do so.
Today’s post is by Kris Smart, Chicago Cares Vice President of ProgramsRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Nonprofit agencies and schools throughout Chicago need help from socially responsible corporate partners. Unfortunately, many of these nonprofits don’t have the staff, resources or the experience to coordinate a customized volunteer event to meet their needs. At Chicago Cares, we are volunteer activation experts, we’ve been building volunteer opportunities since 1991, mobilizing more than 34,000 volunteers each year.
Our ongoing presence in the community allows Chicago Cares to identify real needs in the neighborhoods we serve and ensures that the projects we create deliver a sustainable impact. Partnering with Chicago Cares provides companies the expertise necessary for a volunteer event that will leave a true impact in the community.
Through our Corporate Volunteer Program, Chicago Cares fully develops and coordinates all aspects of a volunteer project, from the logistics of getting to and from a project site, to making sure volunteers are fed, trained and supplied with everything needed to complete a successful project, including:
- A Completely Customized Event: Whether your objective is to strengthen your team internally, build your brand awareness externally, or meet corporate social responsibility goals; Chicago Cares will create a service event to satisfy your unique needs.
- Professional Account Management: We will provide a formal project description that includes a timeline, task descriptions and information about the neighborhood and agency you will be serving.
- Easy Volunteer Registration: Chicago Cares will create a registration website tailored to meet your needs. We’ll keep you informed with real-time registration updates and share useful recruiting tips to engage your staff. Please note: We request that volunteer registration officially close one full week before your service event.
- Volunteer Leader Training: For projects of 150 volunteers or more, Chicago Cares provides leadership training for your chosen volunteers. This is an opportunity to give your corporate rising stars additional instruction on people skills and project management, allowing executives in attendance to see their strengths put into action on your day of service.
- Event Oversight: Chicago Cares handles all aspects of your day of service; all you have to do is share the event information with your co-workers, encouraging them to register as volunteers or leaders.
- Post Event Reporting: Chicago Cares conducts comprehensive post-event evaluation reporting to reflect impact data and collect feedback from community partners, volunteers and leaders.
Through service, your employees will learn more about the challenges facing our city. They will gain a new appreciation for the needs of individual communities and discover the positive impact that each of us can make when we volunteer our time.
Contact Megan at 312.780.0800 ext. 153 to find out more about Chicago Cares Corporate Volunteer Programs.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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.
Safe travels!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
When asked what they would wish for, most people have one answer: MORE TIME.
Whether it's time to get that degree we've been putting off, more time to spend with our family or the free time to finally write the great American novel; we think we know how valuable time is. Yet, when we are surprised with an abundance of time, it's easy to squander those precious hours on things that don't leave any lasting impact on our lives.
It’s that time again, when Chicagoans crank the heat, pull up the covers and begin their hibernation until the temperatures rise above 20 degrees. Snowy days are a fun chance to slow life down a bit but they’re also great times to give back and get to know your neighbors! Here are 5 ways that you can give back this winter:
1) Cook dinner for an elderly neighbor. It’s a great way to check in on a senior without seeming abrasive. Plus, your neighbor will enjoy a warm meal without having to worry about getting out of the house to do grocery shopping. This is a great option for families because everyone can help, kids too young to cook can make handmade cards to include with delivery.
2) Shovel snow. Help dig out a random car on your street, clear your block’s sidewalks of snow or offer to shovel a neighbor’s walkway free of charge. No one is as beloved as the neighbor who helps with snow removal and you might just score yourself a warm cup of cocoa if you’re lucky!
3) Help someone get their vehicle unstuck. You don’t have to walk far to find someone revving their car’s engine but not moving anywhere. Tips: 1) Make sure you remain in the driver’s vision at all times. 2) Place a piece of cardboard under the spinning tire to give the car enough traction to get unstuck.
4) Donate your old winter clothes. With windchill temperatures under 20 degrees, many are in need of warm clothes. Drop off your donation of winter clothes at these non-profit organizations, most of whom are also Chicago Cares community partners:
a. Bottomless Closet- Accepts Business Casual clothing
b. Deborah’s Place- Accepts any type of clothing
c. LaSalle Street Church- Accepts any type of clothing
d. Cornerstone Community Outreach- Accepts any type of clothing
5) Volunteer at Chicago Cares. We make sure that nearly all of our projects are easily accessible by public transportation, so avoid cabin fever and warm your heart by helping others! If a project that you’re signed up for has to be canceled due to weather, you’ll receive an email alerting you to the schedule change.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
As many of us are crawling back into our regular schedules after Thanksgiving, it can be difficult to concentrate on work tasks when our minds are already on the holiday season. Newly decorated office buildings and lavish downtown Chicago Christmas displays greeted many of us as we commuted to work Monday morning, and I’m willing to bet that some of you couldn’t resist continuing your shopping obsessions online for cyber-Monday as well!
I know it’s been hard for me to focus on work tasks as the weather gets colder, the shopping deals get better and my Type-A personality begins planning holiday festivities with family and friends. Sometimes I get swept up in the stress of it all and forget to dedicate some time for myself. Not just quality time with the people I love, but time to learn, reflect and do things I’m passionate about.
I recently read an article in The Onion that declared December National Awareness Month.
“Defined as the ability to realize what one is doing, to whom one is doing it, and what the consequences of doing it or not doing it may be, awareness is considered to be a major factor in a number of modern human endeavors, among them: decision-making, prioritizing, and just basically walking around without always bumping into things.”
Of course, the reason that satire is so effective is that at its heart, there is a grain of truth. Many of us do get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that are right in front of us.
It may be an unlikely source, but maybe The Onion has challenged all of us to actually do something important; to take positive steps toward educating ourselves about the world around us, being more aware of our surroundings and the needs in our communities.
This holiday season, glance up and enjoy the brightly colored lights and beautiful decorations. Spend a few moments each day really listening to the people you care about. Don’t forget to look at the city around you; whether or not that may seem uncomfortable at times, it may encourage you to take positive action in your life.
You might find yourself confronted with families who are hungry, seniors who are lonely or adults and children who are in desperate need of more education. But if you look a little further, you may see the ways you can contribute to some of the issues that afflict our neighborhoods. You’ll see two feet, ready to walk alongside a fellow citizen in need; two hands, ready to serve a meal; a voice, ready to speak words of encouragement to a child in need.
May we all become more aware of the needs that surround us this holiday season, because it is only when we choose to see the problems that surround us that we are able to find solutions.
Todays post is from Senior Manager of Education, Alisha G. FloresRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This holiday season, Chicago Cares volunteers will make sure that hungry people across the city receive a warm meal, young children are nurtured through reading programs, and seniors are able to socialize with members of our community.
These programs would not exist without financial support from caring citizens like you. Donations help make possible the many programs that Chicago Cares creates and manages each month–programs that provide critical support to thousands of people all over Chicago.
Giving money isn’t just about keeping Chicago Cares running. Just like giving your time, donating money is an important expression of your values. By giving to Chicago Cares, you connect to others in a profound way. The act of giving shows that you care about your community, and are willing to make an even deeper commitment.
Donating to Chicago Cares is one of the smartest investments in your community that you can make — Chicago Cares is one of only 9% of nonprofits to receive Charity Navigator’s four-star rating four years in a row, with over 85% of every dollar going directly into our programs.
Donating money is an incredibly personal decision, and one we hope you’ll consider today. Chicago Cares programs make a difference in the lives of Chicago’s most vulnerable, throughout many communities across Chicago. Every dollar given makes a difference, so we need your support.
Make your impact–donate to Chicago Cares today.
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“I contribute what’s appropriate for me. One person can make a difference, but collectively, [donating] is powerful.”
- Mary Johnston, Chicago Cares Volunteer, Leader and Donor
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” While Churchill’s words were true decades ago, they are still relevant today. Every one of the thousands of motivated and compassionate individuals that volunteer with Chicago Cares is a living example of that giving spirit. Not only does the community benefit through giving, but our volunteers are living a life full of empathy and engagement. Volunteering is crucial to the wellbeing of society, and is at the core of our mission at Chicago Cares. There are many other ways that we can give back, one of the easiest ways is through philanthropy.
Philanthropy literally means “the love of humanity.” It’s about caring for the well-being of our neighbors, developing our community and lending a helping hand to those in need. Like giving your time, choosing to give money is an expression of your values and beliefs. Organizations like Chicago Cares rely on philanthropic individuals to create programs that make a difference in our community.
Every donation, large or small, helps support our programs. Philanthropy is important to us all, and donating money connects us to our community just like volunteering does. Every dollar donated to Chicago Cares impacts our community. We are making meals for the homeless and hungry, providing after school activities to young children, teaching adults computer skills necessary for the workforce, spending time with isolated seniors… this list goes on. For the past four years, Chicago Cares has received the highest fiscal responsibility rating by Charity Navigator – and 86% of the funds we raise go right back into the community.
November 15 is National Philanthropy Day and I plan on giving back to the community, not only through my time, but also with my money. I feel good about donating to causes I believe in, and I believe in the work that Chicago Cares is doing. The impact of my donation will be felt by many Chicagoans across the city who are in need of assistance. I encourage you to take part in National Philanthropy Day and make a donation to Chicago Cares today!
Today’s post is from Development Assistant, Liz Toms.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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