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 )
Chicago Cares is in the midst of our annual I Care campaign. It’s a time when we reflect on the amazing work you have helped us to accomplish and when we set our goals for our programs to continue to meet the needs of the community. As I analyze our impact data I am always amazed by what can be invested in our community in a year. It puts all of my experiences cooking breakfast for seniors, pulling weeds at a garden, leading a children’s activity, or the other projects I’ve attended this year into perspective. I have done so little compared to what we have done together. Your time, talents, passion, and compassion go a long way. With that said, the opportunities you have to serve your community through Chicago Cares wouldn’t be there without much-needed funding.
Today, I’m asking you to donate to Chicago Cares to support the programs you volunteer at or believe in. Here’s why:
So far in 2012…
• Volunteers have given positive one-on-one attention to children 9,260 times.
• Volunteer hours given at the Greater Chicago Food Depository have allowed partner organizations to purchase 43,000 pounds of additional food.
• 19,562 meals have been served to Chicagoans in need.
• There have been 14,350 visits made to seniors living in isolation.
• 989 adults received individualized attention in classroom settings with job skills, ESL coaching, tutoring, and more.
• 177,216 square feet have been landscaped at 7 neighborhood gardens, 4 nature area sanctuaries, 2 conservatories, and 2 parks.
• 635 murals have been painted and 86 mosaics created.
• 1,058 benches, bookcases, cubbies, planter boxes and more have been constructed.
• 475 classrooms and 86 hallways have been painted.
• 27,247 volunteer opportunities have been filled.
• And 87,662 volunteer hours have been served, which equals $1,872,460 worth of services donated to and invested in Chicago area schools and organizations.
What our school and organization partners have to say about it:
• 88% of partner organizations have increased the number of services they provide.
• 86% have increased the number of clients they’re able to serve.
• 94% have improved the quality of services they offer.
• 86% report that their projects wouldn’t get finished without Chicago Cares volunteers.
Wow. You have a lot to be proud of – and the year’s not even over yet!
I hope you’ll join me in taking this opportunity to be a part of making sure we can do this – and more – together again in 2013. None of this would be possible without both your time and the supplies and expertise provided by Chicago Cares. Your donation to the Chicago Cares I Care campaign will keep Chicago Cares programs going strong and allow you to stay invested in your community. Donate to your favorite area of service or to our general fund. Every dollar makes a difference.
I look forward to seeing you at a project soon.
Director of Ongoing Programs, Chicago Cares
Proudly invested in our community for nine years
Have you ever wondered how a Chicago Cares program starts? All programs start with an idea about how Chicago Cares volunteers could serve an organization and their clients. Next is a site visit where Chicago Cares staff meet with community partners to discuss their needs and figure out how Chicago Cares volunteers can help address those needs through an ongoing program. From that point, all programs need help from donors and volunteers in order to get them started. Children’s programs in particular require a large amount of support to get them off the ground.
At a visit with a potential children’s education site, we may learn that the community partner is unable to offer any structured programming to students, and we are able to meet this need by developing an academic or extracurricular program to encourage and inspire children as they grow into young adults. Or, we might be able to free up a couple hours of the activity director’s time twice a month by leading the after school activity for that day, so that he or she can concentrate on a grant proposal or developing a new program for clients.
For all of our children’s programs, we rely on volunteer leaders to facilitate the programs we develop and volunteers to provide individualized attention for the children. What we also rely on are the generous donations from volunteers, our corporate partners, and foundations. This funding helps purchase cooking supplies for Healthy Start, books for Read-with-Me, or a volleyball net for Sports League. It helps us purchase watercolors for Young Artists, magnifying glasses for Science Sleuths, and even helps us program coordinators travel to and from the sites we work with as we continuously meet with our community partners to learn how we can make our impact even greater.
Funding to Chicago Cares is far reaching. A donation’s impact does not end at the project it funds. Donating through our I Care campaign is a great way to support the programs where you volunteer. Chicago Cares projects are part of the after-school and wraparound services provided to students that have shown an increase in student attendance, academic success, social development and improved attitudes and behaviors. Chicago Cares is proud to be even a small part of the great successes our partners have had from enrichment programs and partnerships at their sites.
This year, Chicago Cares volunteers logged over 5,500 hours serving more than 1,000 children at our community partners. From tutoring to reading to art and games, Chicago Cares volunteers provide essential individual attention, support, and encouragement at a variety of programs. Please consider making a contribution to children’s programs at Chicago Cares so that we can continue to turn our site visits into successful ongoing education programs.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
There are few things that strike fear into the hearts of volunteers as quickly as the word, FUNDRAISING.
However, with the right tools, fundraising for a cause you are passionate about is simpler and less time-consuming than you think. Remember, you’re not asking for money for yourself – you’re giving others the opportunity to support an organization that you truly believe in!
As a Serve-a-thon volunteer, the funds that you raise help sustain hundreds of programs that meet critical needs in Chicago, all year long. Your fundraising efforts make a difference!
Here are 5 tips to help you reach your fundraising goals:
Tell your story. Explain to people why you support Chicago Cares, and what it means to you personally. People want to know that you’re committed to the cause, and will be happy to support you because of it! If you’re nervous, remember that you are sharing a story that others who care about you can easily relate to and participate in.
Put it in perspective. Often, people worry that their gift won’t really be enough to make an impact. At Chicago Cares, we know that every dollar can make a real difference in our city. Here are a some examples of how individual gifts are meeting needs in Chicago:
- $5 provides hot meals for two adults
- $5 opens the door to discovery for a child living in poverty as they explore a special exhibit in a museum on a field trip
- $10 buys new books for children building literacy skills at a Read-with-Me program
- $10 purchases two chess sets, providing an engaging and safe place for kids to have fun at a Game Night program
- $25 provides the canvas panel for an inspirational mural, creating more welcoming community spaces
- $25 underwrites a full morning of BINGO with 25 household and personal care items used as prizes for seniors living on a fixed income
- $50 buys flash drives and materials for participants at an Adult Computer Skills program
- $50 buys pots, pans, and utensils for students to learn to cook nutritious meals in Healthy Start
Make it an event. Team Captain Alexa, from CS Stars, shared an awesome fundraising technique that her team is using for the second year in a row. They are partnering with a neighborhood bar for a karaoke event to raise money for their team. Last year they got a cover charge for each person who attended and raked in a ton just from that one event. What’s better than fundraising? Having a blast while you are doing it! We’ve got some great tips to help you create a unique fundraising event.
Ask for a matching gift. Matching gifts double the impact that you’re having on Chicago Cares, our service projects, and community partners! Search for your company’s matching gift forms and don’t forget that many companies also match volunteer hours!
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.
It’s that easy! And don’t forget, we’ve also got some great fundraising prizes to celebrate when you reach your fundraising goals, including a weekly $150 Challenge raffle. With just a few simple steps, you can increase your impact and help Chicago Cares continue to meet needs throughout our city.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Students will come back to a brighter, more beautiful learning environment thanks to the work of 6,000 registered volunteers on June 9. Every Serve-a-thon volunteer—whether you’re making a school brighter with a splash of paint, leading a group of volunteers or running check-in as a production assistant—should feel proud. You chose to spend your Saturday supporting your community and making a real difference in the lives of fellow Chicagoans.
Throughout the year, Chicago Cares creates programs that serve those in need. Through our programs, volunteers serve meals to the homeless, read with children, tend community gardens, provide companionship to seniors at risk of isolation, and much more. Chicago Cares relies on the generosity of individuals like you to fund these and hundreds of other programs.
Serve-a-thon is our version of a fundraising gala—except that instead of putting on your dancing shoes, we ask that you roll up your sleeves and get to work. Instead of bidding on silent auction items, we ask that you invite your friends and family to support our work by making a donation.
Fundraising by Serve-a-thon volunteers supports the work Chicago Cares does all year-long. We will invest the money you raise directly into programs and building our capacity to serve more Chicagoans in need. This year your donations could help:
We hope that you’ll choose to participate in Serve-a-thon fundraising starting today. We’re kicking off your efforts with a $150 Challenge prize drawing on Wednesday at noon. Every Serve-a-thon participant who raises $150 to support Chicago Cares programs will be entered into drawings for event tickets, wine tastings and more from now until Serve-a-thon! It’s our way of saying thank you for sharing our story and raising valuable funding for our programs.
Event participants can start by sending emails to friends and family asking them to support Chicago Cares using our easy templates. Share your experience with your friends and family—let them know why you’re giving up your Saturday to volunteer with us.
Where you choose to give your time and money is an expression of your most personal beliefs, values and passions. We are honored that you choose to give your time to Chicago Cares projects. Please consider taking your dedication a step further by asking your friends and family to support our work.
Not able to participate in Serve-a-thon, but want to support our programs? Make a donation today or consider holding a fundraising event benefiting Chicago Cares. Or, if you are currently registered as a Production Assistant and would like to join Serve-a-thon fundraising efforts, contact Development Manager, Sarah Holliday for more information.
Today’s post is by Development Manager, Sarah Holliday.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )