It’s hard to put 2012 in perspective just a few days after 27 people were gunned down in Connecticut (including 20 six and seven year olds), not to mention the dozens of Chicago children killed by violence every year. We start to feel like violence is all around us. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who held my child a little tighter this weekend and wondered what kind of world I was leaving her.  It is easy to feel helpless and hopeless when confronted with such evil.

But, every time I feel that hopelessness, I find that volunteering provides a sure remedy. Seeing our volunteers in action reminds me that there is so much good in the world.  This Saturday a group of volunteers shepherded dozens of children through the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World exhibit.  Others cooked breakfast and played bingo with low-income seniors. On Friday, a group from Discover made blankets for homeless shelters. All over the city, hundreds of volunteers came together in service this weekend.

Thank You Letter

Our volunteers do more than educate our children, reduce isolation and depression among seniors, feed the hungry and clean up our schools and parks. Every time you volunteer, you create community.  And that community gets bigger and stronger every time you join a project. They and them become we and us.

We is a powerful word. WE make a difference. They sit at home and wonder why our schools are failing.  We get off our butts and read to children from May Elementary in Austin, helping eight year olds learn to love reading.  They look at a vacant lot and shake their fists at the trash.  We gather together and turn emptiness into a learning garden like we did at Schmid Elementary in Pullman. They shake their heads at a senior citizen holding up the bus.  We laugh and cry at senior breakfast, building friendship and community instead of isolation and depression.

As 2012 comes to an end, I thank all of you for your service to Chicago this year. I urge all of you to re-commit to volunteering in 2013 so we can continue to build a stronger Chicago.

Yours in service,

Bridget Altenburg

Executive Director

PS We always welcome your support as a volunteer AND as a donor.  Please make a contribution to our work.  Your $25 donation buys bingo prizes for senior breakfast club or art supplies for an after school program. Without your time and/or financial support, our programs simply would not exist for the over 270 community organizations we partner with every year.