In just two short weeks, thousands of volunteers from across the Chicagoland area will join together to enhance the learning environments at dozens of under-resourced public schools. At first glance, facility improvement projects seem superficial. True, volunteers at Serve-a-thon will be focusing on cosmetic improvements. However, the effect that a bright, beautiful and welcoming space has on a child is truly remarkable.

In preparation for June 9, we want to share a few of the school stories that you’ll get to experience first-hand at Serve-a-thon. Chicago Cares has been working with these schools for months to ensure that the work that you accomplish as a volunteer will have a lasting, positive impact on students and the community.

Peeling paint at Stevenson

Stevenson Elementary serves families living in the southwest side of Chicago. Serve-a-thon volunteers will be doing a variety of projects at this site, including painting classrooms, hallways and the playlot; landscaping the outdoor areas and creating an inspirational mural. The parents at Stevenson could not be more excited to have Chicago Cares volunteers serving their school! Along with the general preparations that have to be made, parents will be showing off their hospitality by cooking a meal for all of their site volunteers, welcoming them into the Stevenson community.


Great Expectations at Hale

Also located on the southwest side, Hale Elementary School has a vision that, “All students including those with disabilities and English Language Learners, are educated in the least restrictive environment to their full potential and are prepared to take their place in society as literate, compassionate, productive and responsible citizens.” None of the staff can remember that last time their walls were painted, so it’s been at least a decade since this school has seen the simplest of cosmetic improvements. Besides painting, volunteers at Hale will also work on the school’s playlot, build benches for classrooms, create murals and more.

Out-dated paneling at Fairfield


Fairfield Elementary Academy is located in the West Englewood neighborhood and is home to another group of committed parents. This school has not been painted in over 15 years and the hallways are covered in a dark, safari-themed paneling. Neither the principal nor the students are especially inspired by this old-fashioned design, so parents are spending their free time stripping the paneling and preparing the walls for Serve-a-thon volunteers to paint. By doing this time-consuming work themselves, Fairfield parents and teachers are ensuring that your work will have the greatest impact on their students.


Holden students love the playlot volunteers painted in 2011

We’ll return to Holden Elementary this year, a site that included mural, hallway and playlot painting at Serve-a-thon 2011. This bright school in Bridgeport encourages students to think creatively and supports their work with artistic installations throughout the building. Volunteers at Holden will continue the painting theme with the school’s lunchroom and classrooms. In addition, the school’s preschool building will receive 4 exterior murals to welcome even the youngest students to an exciting day of learning.

We’re proud to be able to support that work that these and many other dedicated communities are doing to create amazing schools in every Chicago neighborhood. As a Serve-a-thon volunteer, you are showing students in these schools that they are valued members of our Chicago community. Your work may be cosmetic in nature but it is so much deeper in impact.

We hope that you’ll join us at the Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon!