This week, we’re proud to celebrate the 5th Annual AmeriCorps Week. This is the perfect opportunity for AmeriCorps members, alums, grantees, program partners, and friends to demonstrate AmeriCorps’ impact on critical issues, bring more Americans into service, and thank the community partners who make AmeriCorps possible.

At Chicago Cares, AmeriCorps week reminds us to take the time to thank our current AmeriCorps members, while also providing the opportunity for many of our staff to reminisce about their own past service.

Today, we want to highlight the work of our current HandsOn AmeriCorps members and share with you why their service is so important to the work of Chicago Cares.

Claire Dooms and Lyzeth Mondragon are both HandsOn AmeriCorps members on our Volunteer and Leader Services (VLS) team. VLS is dedicated to providing all volunteers with transformational experiences each time they engage with Chicago Cares. Claire meets this goal by focusing on Leader Services. From initial leader recruitment, through the training process, to networking socials; Claire works hard to make sure that we have competent and content volunteer leaders for over 215 monthly programs.

If you’re a volunteer with Chicago Cares, then you have probably seen Lyzeth in action. Often serving as a first point of contact for our volunteers, Lyzeth oversees our welcome emails and works on retail outreach. If you forget your login information, need to verify your volunteer hours or want to receive news from our Hot Projects list; Lyzeth is here to assist you.

Katie Barthelow and Angelika Lewis are both HandsOn AmeriCorps members with our Youth in Service (YIS) team. YIS believes that by educating youth on social issues, engaging them in meaningful service and empowering them to be agents of change, we are fostering a new generation of leaders grounded in the ethic of community involvement.

Being on the YIS team, you may find yourself doing a site visit for a new project, buying the groceries to cook breakfast for 100 people, or writing thank you notes to students who took the time to serve. Whether it’s a hands-on renovation project, or an opportunity to engage in relationships with seniors or others in need of a friend; Katie and Angelika provide the youth of Chicago a unique opportunity to make a difference in their community while also taking the time to reflect on how service has made an impact on each student personally.

As you can see, AmeriCorps members aren’t just a nice addition to Chicago Cares, they are a necessity! And while we appreciate their hard work and dedication to fostering the ethic of volunteerism, what we love most is that they each bring a piece of themselves to our organization. Claire, Lyzeth, Katie and Angelika remind us every day that working with Chicago-area volunteers and students is a privilege that none of us should take for granted. Their passion for service is inspiring and we are so proud that they have chosen to call Chicago Cares, home.