As we prepare to close our 20th Anniversary year with a special celebration this Friday, we’ve had the opportunity to sit back and reflect on how much Chicago Cares has grown since 1991.

What began as two young women in a donated office, has blossomed into a thriving staff of over 40 employees. The dream of our co-founders Leslie Bluhm and Mary Prchal was to make service simple. They saw busy people who wanted to make a difference but were overwhelmed with where to begin. Two very different people, Leslie and Mary complemented each other well and soon their little volunteer project was growing into a city-wide phenomenon.

Since 1991, Chicago Cares has created and implemented over 30,000 volunteer projects throughout our city. We have filled more than 362,000 volunteer positions and our volunteers have donated 1.4 million hours of service to the help meet the needs of Chicago.

1.4 million hours.

That translates to 58,526 consecutive days of service, or over 160 years! According to Independent Sector the average, estimated dollar value of a volunteer in America is $21.36. Over the past two decades, Chicago Cares volunteers have provided over $30 million of service to our city.

Neglected schools have been revitalized, students with limited resources have been given the tools to succeed, harvests have been gathered to feed the hungry and sick, seniors living in isolation have been re-connected to the world around them, corporations have been given the opportunity to share their resources with communities that desperately need them, lives have been changed because of the opportunity to serve others.

What can 1.4 million hours of service get you? At Chicago Cares, it give us joy and hope. Joy for 20 years of relationships that have been built and hope for the many more amazing things that we will learn and discover through our volunteers and partners in the future.