A few weeks ago, members of our staff were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.  On Tuesday, April 24, I attended two sessions, “One Person Can Make a Difference” and “Women Forging Peace,” both of which were inspiring and eye-opening.

Panelists included Nobel Peace Prize winners and leading peace activists from across the globe. Seeing people from different cultures and walks of life interact in respectful, appreciative, and collaborative dialogue was refreshing.

The Summit was purposefully focused on youth this year. Being in a room filled with engaged students was very powerful. Through the excitement, though, the ultimate question, “What can I do about it?” loomed at all times. Thankfully, there is an answer.

Professor Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate, 1997, shared it loud and clear when she was asked how to get involved and be a part of making a difference, “Volunteer!”

Jody started as a volunteer and worked her way into a life of full-time peace advocacy. Jody recommended to everyone listening that they start by finding an issue they care about. Then, find an organization that does something for that issue and volunteer with them. Finally, continue to learn and grow and share what you learn with others.

Here’s your chance. Follow the theme of the summit and “Speak Up, Speak Out” by volunteering with Chicago Cares.

Find a project that you feel makes a difference in your community. Go to that project, volunteer your time, volunteer your energy, volunteer your mind. Be open to learning from the people who work at the organization, from the clients you are spending time with, from your volunteer leader, and from your fellow volunteers. Then do it again and talk about your experiences. Share what you’ve learned, share how it made you feel, and continue to ask questions.

My hope for peace and equality is one of the many things that drives the work I do at Chicago Cares. I hope I can help you find what you are passionate about. Come be a part of building the future of our community. Volunteer.

Today’s post is by Wendy Neuert
Director of Human Service & Community Service Partnerships