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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“As a Volunteer Leader for the Youth In Service area, I feel like I get the best of both worlds. I get a lot of personal satisfaction leading a group of young people in service-oriented projects while meeting the needs of underserved populations like seniors who reside in assisted living facilities.
For several years I’ve led a Senior Breakfast Club with YIS volunteers and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to watch many volunteers who may have been intimidated by the idea of working with seniors totally blossom into fully engaged leaders who can’t wait to come back for another project.
I do my best to lead by example and show students how warm and friendly the seniors are, and how much fun it can be to connect with them. At a recent project, we played Black History Month trivia off my iPhone; the youth and seniors had a ball — and I think everyone learned a little something!
Every time I wrap up a project, the seniors are so gracious and can’t wait for us to come back again.”
Youth in Service Leader and Member of the 20th Anniversary Host Committee
Over the past few months, we have had the pleasure of collecting stories like these in preparation for the Chicago Cares 20th Anniversary Celebration. Each story takes us back to the many volunteers, partners and clients that we have had the privilege to work alongside over the past two decades.
We hope that you will join us on March 9 as we celebrate the amazing work of our co-founders, staff, volunteers and partners with a special evening at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Our theme for the evening is Rooted in Community, Growing in Service.
We hope that this time will not only give us a chance to reflect on the past, but also provide an opportunity to dream about what lies ahead! There are many needs to be met in our city and at Chicago Cares, we still believe that people, just like you, are the answer.
Get your ticket and join us next week as we celebrate the past and toast to a very bright future!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
It’s that time of year, when mailboxes gets flooded with holiday cards covered in smiling faces and annual letters letting you know what’s been happening over the past year. Like you, we love hearing what’s happening in the lives of the people we care about.
Even though we are an organization; our community partners, corporate partners and especially our volunteers feel more like family than clients. We have had the pleasure of knowing some of you for over 20 years and we always get excited when someone new is ‘added to the family.’ With over 1.2 million volunteer hours served since we first began in 1991, we have been honored to work with some amazing Chicagoans, strengthening our city, together.
Today, we want to share with you just some of the great things that people are saying about the work that you are doing with Chicago Cares. These programs and events would not be possible without dedicated volunteers and partners like you. So sit back, relax and grab a cup of cocoa; you’ve earned it.
“Because of Chicago Cares education programs our school is now open on Saturdays and resourced with programs, supplies, and adult volunteers so our students can be engaged in a safe environment.”
Principal, Jesse Sherwood Elementary School
“Chicago Cares provides a great experience for our seniors and they truly do appreciate the services that this organization provides. The seniors enjoy the bingo and breakfast event that Chicago Cares hosts once a month… Our Chicago Cares partnership helps enhance the beneficiaries life experience by providing them the opportunity to continue to be social and interactive individuals, all of which has a positive impact.”
Margaret Day Blake Apartments/Clark and Irving Apartments
“Our guests appreciate the time people spend preparing and serving them a complete, nutritious dinner. Many live alone and don’t have the funds (or sometimes even friends) to go out and enjoy a dinner. Chicago Cares volunteers help our guests feel special and cared about.”
United Church of Roger’s Park
“Chicago Cares provides resources such as maintaining the garden for our seniors. This allows seniors that may have slight arthritis in their legs to be more active, enhancing their quality of life.”
These are just a few of the ways that your giving throughout the year has helped thousands of Chicagoans live better, healthier lives. Thank you and we hope to see you at a Chicago Cares project soon!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Chicago Cares Education Programs serve students at public schools throughout the city. Additionally, our Business Shares and Annual Events teams plan projects that provide Chicago Public Schools with facilities beautification and interactive activities for participating sites. Chicago Cares programs and events impact tens of thousands of CPS students every year.
What many may not be aware of, are the 15 partnering non-profit agencies who host Chicago Cares education programs. Partnering non-profit agencies are mission driven organizations serving a variety of communities and issue areas. Working together, we are able to provide additional opportunities and services to more than 250 students each month.
In today’s economy, many non-profits face an uphill battle due to limited budgets and over-extended staff. These organizations are able to reach out to Chicago Cares and find a partner to provide assistance with programming, volunteer recruitment, and facilities assistance.
Agencies such as Chicago Youth Programs, Mercy Housing, St. Joseph Services-San Miguel, and LYDIA; can provide a greater number of high-quality services to their families and students by partnering with Chicago Cares. Simply put, Chicago Cares provides volunteers to help with enrichment and extracurricular activities, but the activities, supplies, and trained leaders also provide some peace of mind that the students will be happily engaged in education-focused, hands-on learning.
Although these sites typically serve a more focused population of students than what is encountered at a school, the impact is still great. Because the sites are often small and the students are consistent, volunteers are really able to make a personal connection with a child or family.
One agency volunteer said, “Wow, how rewarding was that?! I can’t wait for next time.”
It only takes one time of hearing a student greet you with, “hey, you’re back!” to know that you’re making a difference.
Today’s post is from Education Coordinator, Emily Collins.
If you are part of a Chicago area non-profit and would like to find out more about partnering with Chicago Cares, please visit our Community Partner Page.
We live in a fast-paced city where our jobs, families and responsibilities fill our schedules each week. It’s difficult to find space in our schedules for relaxation and time with our family and friends. When life begins to feel overwhelming, we often find ourselves eliminating the activities that are the most rewarding and fulfilling. Our time is one of the most valuable things we have; for a child, our time is one of the most important things we can give.
Whether you’re reading, tutoring or just spending time hanging out, you can make an investment in a child’s future and a significant impact in his or her life. Adolescence is a crucial time when children form their identities and learn about resilience and social competencies. Low-income students are even more vulnerable to violence, lack of nutrition and risk-taking behaviors. Studies have shown that children who are mentored are less likely to use drugs and skip school, and they are more likely to develop trusting and supportive relationships.
With recent CPS budget cuts in after school programming, there is a tremendous need for mentoring and programs to support children in our city. Every month over 350 Chicago Cares education volunteers engage with students, teaching them about the importance of fitness, how science can be fun, and conflict resolution. With a new school year, even more volunteers are needed as our programs expand. Volunteers are needed to read with students and teach them how to express themselves through the arts.
Although our education programs incorporate academics and the arts, education volunteers are not expected to be science experts, artists or teachers. They are everyday people from diverse backgrounds and skills. Do you enjoy sports? Are you passionate about literacy? Can you give encouragement and positive words? Then you can be an education volunteer!
In a recent survey of education volunteers many people noted positive personal, social and professional benefits from their service. Education community service partners also described the impact volunteers have on their students:
“My service in this program has strengthened my passion for teaching and social justice.”
“It has been a positive influence on me and made me learn a lot more about myself. The kids very much enjoy the individualized attention from the volunteers and many volunteers continued to come back week after week, building a connection with the kids.”
“The students were excited to complete fun projects and didn’t even seem to realize they were learning about reading in the process.” -Brennemann Elementary school teacher, Susan Bronder
“Sherwood school students have benefited in many ways. Students are engaged in high quality programs that enhance reading, math and writing. The programs also help our children enhance their social skills and attitude towards school. In addition, students work with volunteers who are from various backgrounds which allow our children to be exposed to many different cultures and individuals.” -Principal Alice Buzanis, Sherwood Elementary
With over 65 volunteer programs in 16 community areas of Chicago, education programs are a convenient and easy way to get involved and help a child. Programs are built to accommodate volunteer availability and schedules, usually occurring twice a month on week nights or Saturdays. Our most successful programs have a strong group of consistent volunteers. Do you have 3-4 hours a month to mentor children in your community? Sign up today with a friend or family member!
Today’s post is from Alisha Flores, Senior Manager of EducationRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Crowe Horwath LLP has been a Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon sponsor since 2006, helping make many school renovations a reality. Chris Wagner was one of sixty-six Crowe Horwath LLP employees to join us this June at the 17th Annual Serve-a-thon, painting and building at R.H. Lawrence Jr School for Mathematics and Science. His recap of his volunteer experience can be found here, on the Crowe Horwath Blog. Many thanks to Chris and the Crowe Horwath team for allowing us to share it with you.
Over the summer, my fellow Crowe Horwath volunteers and I boarded a train bound for downtown Chicago to participate in the 17th Annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon. Little did I know how gratifying this experience would be! We were in for an adventure filled with a lot of hard work and a little bit of compassion. The event began at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, with an inspiring kickoff emceed by my friend Gaynor Hall, a WGN/CLTV reporter, and words of wisdom from Governor Quinn and Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman. From there, “Team Crowe” hopped on a bus and traveled to the far south side of Chicago to begin our assignment, R.H. Lawrence Jr. School for Mathematics and Science. The school had seen better days: walls needed painting, furniture was ancient and time-worn (a bookshelf in the teacher’s lounge dated back to 1954), and landscaping was sparse on the school grounds. We could see our sweat and TLC were needed and would go a long way in sprucing up the inner city school. Fresh coats of paint in classrooms and hallways, hand painted murals in common areas, and hand crafted benches and planters on the school grounds gave the building a fresh look and a landscape for the imaginations of the students who attend the school. Our mission was a huge success and the look of appreciation on the school principal’s face made it all the more worthwhile. The day was such a rewarding experience that we’ve already committed to participating in next year’s event!
The opportunities for activities and events such as the Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon that are available to me while working at Crowe have given me great sense of accomplishment and pride in my firm. What experiences have you had that make you proud to work for your company?
To view more photos of this event, click here.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Our Youth in Service team has been toiling away this summer, working hard to create and manage meaningful projects for students participating in the Summer of Service and Leadership. One of the seniors they served told us, “I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. I especially appreciate all the kids that showed up to give their time and energy for us. I believe that when young people put in such an effort we seniors have a responsibility to make it a wonderful experience for them as well…thank you for arranging this get together.” Big thank you to the students, seniors, and community partners making the Summer of Service and Leadership such a success, and kudos to our Youth in Service team!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
It really is my pleasure to participate with Chicago Cares and Read with Me at HGS. I am SO happy organizations and opportunities like this exist!