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 )
This is the last blog post of the year and the gist of it is simple, so I’ll save you some time. We are asking that you make a special gift to Chicago Cares today! You’ve probably already heard a lot about I Care in the other emails you’ve received. In case you didn’t have an opportunity to read them all, I Care is not a hot new product from Apple, though we’d love to have that kind of exposure. I Care is an annual appeal for donations for the projects, programs and the organization you know and love: Chicago Cares.
If you’re reading this, chances are you have a relationship with Chicago Cares. Maybe you’re a faithful long-time volunteer or leader. You could be a loyal staff or board member. Maybe you just Googled “volunteer, Chicago” and you stumbled upon our website. No matter how you discovered this blog today, welcome!
As volunteers, we serve from the heart, but service costs time and money. Your donation to Chicago Cares is crucial and extends to people all over the community.
When you sign up for a volunteer project with Chicago Cares, you want to help – and we make it easy. Chicago Cares provides hundreds of books for children’s programs every week. If you pass a school and there’s a huge map of the United States on the playground, Chicago Cares probably provided the stencil, the paint, as well as the volunteers to get the project done. Maybe you’ve seen an overgrown, unruly garden on Friday that’s tame and beautiful on Saturday? Often, that’s the work of Chicago Cares volunteers. We pride ourselves on living our mission – mobilizing and inspiring people to make Chicago a stronger community. With the assistance of a robust corps of volunteers and leaders we can pull off unimaginable feats of service. Our staff takes pride in the projects we create and manage but we cannot do it without you.
So, return that terrible sweater or that useless kitchen gadget you received just a few days ago, and pay it forward to Chicago Cares. We want to say thank you for your hours of dedication throughout this year; our city and our fellow citizens truly appreciate it. As the year comes to a close and you’re thinking ahead to your goals and resolutions for 2013, please consider a donation to Chicago Cares today. It’s not too late to make a difference.
Senior Officer, Corporate RelationsRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Youth in Service doesn’t exist to host Senior Breakfast Clubs on the weekend. Youth in Service doesn’t exist to plant a vegetable garden for a malnourished community. And Youth in Service doesn’t exist to bag lunches to donate to a food pantry to feed hungry families.
We do not serve to see the genuine grins on the faces of the people we are helping. We do not serve because we want to change someone’s day for the good.
Yes, we do all of these things. Yes, we love all of these responses.
However, the youth groups that serve through Youth in Service serve to BE the change, not just to make a change. Our youth that serve want to be the change in our community that makes a lasting impact on our world and paves the way for generations to come.
Our groups of youth, aged 8 to 18 years, who volunteer through Youth in Service, are the future of our world. With each seemingly small project, we strive to engage, educate, and empower our volunteers to continue serving the community by illustrating the powerful impression each person has in helping the future generations of Chicago and the world.
One project at a time, Chicago Cares Youth in Service is able to work with youth volunteers to serve many issue areas: seniors, homelessness and hunger, children’s education, persons with disabilities, environmental issues, and anything they can imagine. Allowing these youth to take the lead and work together is truly empowering and makes a difference on how they view the world and how they view the meaning of service.
I have been fortunate enough to work with students from Mather High School this past month and will continue doing so for the rest of the school year. From day one it was clear that they want to help others, but weren’t really sure how. After serving at their first Youth in Service project last Saturday, the students are better able to relate to people unlike themselves and better understand the needs of our community.
Help continue bettering Chicago and the world by starting with this amazing generation by making a donation through the Chicago Cares I Care campaign. Invest in small project, like a $150 Senior Breakfast Club that not only provides a fun and nutritious meal for senior citizens, but also teaches youth the importance of service.
Written By Danika Marcano
HandsOn AmeriCorps Member
Youth in ServiceRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
It’s hard to put 2012 in perspective just a few days after 27 people were gunned down in Connecticut (including 20 six and seven year olds), not to mention the dozens of Chicago children killed by violence every year. We start to feel like violence is all around us. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who held my child a little tighter this weekend and wondered what kind of world I was leaving her. It is easy to feel helpless and hopeless when confronted with such evil.
But, every time I feel that hopelessness, I find that volunteering provides a sure remedy. Seeing our volunteers in action reminds me that there is so much good in the world. This Saturday a group of volunteers shepherded dozens of children through the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World exhibit. Others cooked breakfast and played bingo with low-income seniors. On Friday, a group from Discover made blankets for homeless shelters. All over the city, hundreds of volunteers came together in service this weekend.
Our volunteers do more than educate our children, reduce isolation and depression among seniors, feed the hungry and clean up our schools and parks. Every time you volunteer, you create community. And that community gets bigger and stronger every time you join a project. They and them become we and us.
We is a powerful word. WE make a difference. They sit at home and wonder why our schools are failing. We get off our butts and read to children from May Elementary in Austin, helping eight year olds learn to love reading. They look at a vacant lot and shake their fists at the trash. We gather together and turn emptiness into a learning garden like we did at Schmid Elementary in Pullman. They shake their heads at a senior citizen holding up the bus. We laugh and cry at senior breakfast, building friendship and community instead of isolation and depression.
As 2012 comes to an end, I thank all of you for your service to Chicago this year. I urge all of you to re-commit to volunteering in 2013 so we can continue to build a stronger Chicago.
Yours in service,
PS We always welcome your support as a volunteer AND as a donor. Please make a contribution to our work. Your $25 donation buys bingo prizes for senior breakfast club or art supplies for an after school program. Without your time and/or financial support, our programs simply would not exist for the over 270 community organizations we partner with every year.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The first Mock Interviews session at San Jose Obrero Mission (SJOM) came as a surprise to many of the male residents that would be participating that day. I showed up with five volunteers, my curriculum, and approached my excited site representative for the session. After explaining the program to the volunteers, we started the interviews. The first resident I worked with was Michael*, and he did not seem quite as eager as I was.
Michael was hesitant to sit down with me; he said he already had a job and did not need the extra practice. I sat with Michael anyway and talked to him about the importance of honing his interview skills. Michael agreed to humor me, and we worked through one interview together. After the session was over, I shook his hand and provided him with our job coaching packet. As I was getting up, Michael asked if we could go through it again. So, we completed a second interview.
As the project was ending, Michael talked about how I had asked him questions that he is always hesitant to answer. He explained that he now knows what to put on his resume, and what questions are appropriate to ask his interviewer, something he has never done before. We parted ways and I said I would see Michael for his interview next month.
During our Mock Interviews program at SJOM, our volunteers conduct one-on-one interviews with the male residents of the shelter. Currently, there is one staff member that coordinates the job coaching program at both the men’s and women’s center, as well as the other educational opportunities. Because of this, the residents are not always able to get the individual help that would assist with their job searches.
Imelda Rodriguez, our community partner representative, sees that Chicago Cares’ program and volunteers are helping SJOM’s residents gain essential life skills. “Mock Interviews is about practicing how to get better and better. Chicago Cares has been helping us help the homeless population at SJOM. Volunteers are helping [our residents] get the skills so our participants can cross from the unemployed side to the employee one, which means getting a better life style.”
Chicago Cares has numerous adult education programs that include Mock Interviews, ESL tutoring, GED preparation, US Citizenship coaching, and job coaching. These volunteer opportunities provide the students of these programs with the individual attention they need to be successful in their particular class. In US Citizenship Coaching, we review the exam with the students so the participants can not only practice their English, but take away some of the anxiety of taking the exam in hope that they will pass. In Job Coaching, we provide the residents of the shelter with the tools to write resumes so that they feel confident when turning in job applications. Our adult education programs have the ability to reach clients in numerous community areas of Chicago, but they need your support in order to do this.
A donation of $50 through our I Care campaign can provide the Mock Interview curriculum for an entire year. This donation would engage 72 volunteers and help 120 residents with their job search. Please consider making a donation to Chicago Cares and helping our adult education programs grow.
*name changed for privacy purposes.
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On February 5th, Chicago Cares will start ongoing programs at Fuller Elementary. Our first new school in 2011! Fuller Elementary, located in Bronzeville, serves students K-8 and focuses on excellence for all.
“All children are capable of success, NO EXCEPTIONS!” says Principal Dr. Kennedy.
Along with Dr. Kennedy and new assistant principal Ms. Block, the faculty and family members are thrilled to have Chicago Cares provide opportunities for their students beyond the regular school day. Already thinking ahead, Ms. Block can only imagine how great this partnership can be; she already has plans to serve not only her students but their family members this fall. Between Dr. Kennedy’s long history at Fuller and Ms. Block’s enthusiasm in her first year, we could not be more thrilled at the possibilities. Being welcomed into the Fuller family is both a privilege and an honor!
Not only are we rolling out a new school, but also an all new program called Explore Chicago! This program uses Chicago’s colorful history, culture, politics, and arts to build student’s reading, writing, and artistic abilities. Explore Chicago will get students out of the normal classroom setting and will help them learn through experience. Whether you’re new to the city or a life-long resident, Explore Chicago is a fantastic way to learn and share stories about Sweet Home Chicago. And less we forget, a volunteer favorite, Fuller Sports League will also begin in early February. Athletic skills not needed, just the ability to model good sportsmanship and have fun! Whether you’re new to volunteering or a seasoned pro, Fuller is the perfect site to be involved. “Fuller goes that extra mile” and you should, too. Come see for yourself on February 5th…and who knows, you may just become an honorary Fuller Falcon!
To sign up for one of these programs, please click on the appropriate link:
(Explore Chicago! at Fuller and Fuller Sports League kick-off at 9:50 AM on February 5th, just a few blocks from the Green Line and the 43rd Street Bus. Both programs are still searching for the perfect team coordinator to make the programs soar; to learn more about volunteer and leader opportunities visit our website at www.chicagocares.org.)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )