June has been an exciting month for Chicago Cares. In just 30 days, our staff has had the honor of working with over 9,000 volunteers who gave their time to help strengthen the city of Chicago. Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who make our work possible. Your excitement to serve fuels us every day, urging us to find new, meaningful ways to meet critical needs in our city.

Volunteers in ongoing programs continued to serve children, adults, seniors and the environment through interactive projects. Whether it was preparing a meal, leading a discussion group, chaperoning a field trip or maintaining a community garden, Chicago Cares volunteers readily answered the call to serve their neighbors with kindness and compassion. The dedication of volunteers with our ongoing programs reminds us that at the heart of all service is the belief that caring relationships can change the world.

During Serve-a-thon we saw thousands of volunteers come together on one day to focus on a single goal; make our schools more welcoming to students and communities. Standing in the sea of volunteers, you could feel the excitement as we all sacrificed our Saturday to serve under-resourced students. In his remarks at the opening ceremony, CPS Principal Robert Lazers shared the story of a girl who could only comprehend the transformation of her school as a magical event. He told volunteers, “all of you here are as magical as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and all the other mystical beings who make children’s lives better overnight.” Annual Event volunteers teach us that together, we can do so much more.

Chicago Cares Corporate Volunteer Programs regularly help companies meet their community goals through service. This month we saw employees from the Big Ten Network, Deloitte, Hilton Worldwide, Aon and Hyatt mobilize to restore beaches, plant gardens and provide facilities improvements at schools and social service agencies throughout Chicago. Corporate Volunteers encourage us to look forward to a day when the success of a company can be measured by their social impact and not just their bottom line.

Through the National Conference on Volunteering and Service (NCVS), volunteers from around the country donated their time to help provide vital community garden programs to food deserts in Chicago through the Seeds for Change program. Together, we built raised beds, planted vegetables, constructed sheds and packed 500 community garden kits to be delivered to Chicago Public Schools. Although many of the participants may never meet one of these students, they came to each project excited and ready to serve. Sharing a volunteer experience with NCVS attendees confirmed that our neighbors are not just the people down the street. As a country we must all work together, with common vision and singular purpose to meet the needs of America.

Thank you to each and every volunteer who took the time to participate in Chicago Cares opportunities this month. You have inspired us to raise the bar for community service and reminded us, once again, that People are the Answer.