It’s that time of year again, time to bid farewell to our wonderful AmeriCorps members as they complete their year of service with Chicago Cares. We have loved the opportunity to get to know Chris, Adrienne and Jen. We’ll miss them here at Chicago Cares but we know that they will continue to do great things as they take the next steps in their careers!
Adrienne, Chris and Jen will be sharing their thoughts on what they’ve learned through their year of service on Monday’s blog, but today we wanted to share a little bit about what their service has meant to us here at Chicago Cares.
Chris and Jen worked as part of our Youth in Service team. Here are some reflections from their co-workers.
Jen created 3,471 volunteer slots over her 11 months of service. This was in large part due to her facilitation of 2 Student Service and Leadership programs with 28 students in each at Mather High School. Jen did an amazing job of supporting and managing our programs there. She was also really great about working hard to create introduction and reflection information for her projects that would really engage the students and get them thinking about the issues they were working within.
Chris worked very hard to create some awesome new issue education pieces- he created an interactive piece about the global water crisis that shows students the difference in water resources in a developing country vs. the United States. He also worked to develop the “What’s on my plate? Game” which is a game that shows students the complexity of feeding yourself in America! Each student plays a role- some students have more money and access to transportation while others have less and some have less money AND no access to transportation. Chris also added a great twist to this game in adding in a health component, asking students to not only look at the costs of food, but to also think about what it is they are eating.
One of the best things about this past year of working with Chris and Jen has been watching them both learn to come together and work as a team with Joyce and I. The first few weeks/months were not always easy and figuring out how to work together took perseverance- but both really fought to learn how to help one another and they have both become really great team players!
Chris did a great job working with community partners to find project models that fit for both us and them. When one of our partners requested that we host an arts and crafts night for their residents, Chris came up with a unique craft idea for project. He was open to trying out new ideas and models and it helped us develop stronger relationships with partners that we have not worked with as much in the past.
Jen put a lot of work into creating a variety of issue education, introduction ideas, and reflection activities for our projects. Her interest in education definitely showed throughout the year as she created new activities to help our youth groups learn and become more passionate about service.
Adrienne spent her time with our Volunteer and Leader Services team, here are some thoughts that they wanted to share.
Adrienne joined Volunteer & Leader Services during our busiest recruitment season. She didn’t hesitate to jump into her projects and share her perspective with us. Adrienne developed a volunteer newsletter for Annual Events Production Assistants in order to bridge the communication gap between volunteers and staff, successfully raising our recruitment and retention numbers by 15%. Adrienne has great ideas and is focused on achieving her goals. We wish her the best.
Adrienne has been at Chicago Cares longer than I have, so I’ve always been lucky enough to have her on the other side of the wall. She’s answered bazillions of questions, blessed me after countless sneezes, and helped me strategize through the busiest of times, but the greatest comfort has probably been just knowing that she has always been there.
I recently ran across an email I got from her on the afternoon of my very first day at Chicago Cares that she probably has no recollection of even sending. It simply says, “Hello, Happy First Day!” and it came at a time that I was so overwhelmed, that I saved it but had almost no recollection of it myself – almost. My life as a Chicago Cares staffer flashed backwards in an instant, and I remember feeling so grateful that first afternoon for such a kind gesture and delightful neighbor. Of course, I’m even happier now for all the growth that has happened for us and for our team since then. And though the other side of the wall and VLS soon won’t be the same, I truly thank Adrienne and wish her the greatest success with school and all of her future endeavors.