Leading up to Serve-a-thon, Chicago Cares is excited to launch a blog series called “Three Questions With ….” As part of this series, we will celebrate the diverse and dynamic voices of those who are making a difference inside and outside of our city. Throughout the series, we hope that you will chime in with your thoughts as well by answering a simple question: What does Chicago mean to you? Tell us with the hasthtag #MyChi through words, photos, and videos on social media!

We are thrilled to kick off our series with reflections from Arianna Huffington, chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of 14 books. Our executive director, Jenné Myers, recently met Arianna when she was visiting Chicago.

Ariaana Huffington

1) In your mind, is volunteering and giving back key to helping people thrive?

Yes! Giving, loving, caring, empathy and compassion, going beyond ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zones to help serve others — this is the only viable answer to the multitude of problems the world is facing. If well-being, wisdom, and wonder are our response to a personal wake-up call, service naturally follows as the response to the wake-up call for humanity. And the science is incontrovertible: giving is a miracle drug (with no side effects) for health and well-being.

2) What was your most meaningful volunteer experience?

When my younger daughter, Isabella, was five years old, we were living in Washington, D.C. One day we were volunteering at Children of Mine, a center for children in need in Anacostia, a struggling part of town. The day before we had celebrated Isabella’s fifth birthday with a mermaid cake, presents, balloons, and a birthday party. By coincidence, at the center that day there was a little girl also having her fifth birthday. This little girl’s entire birthday celebration consisted of a chocolate chip cookie with a candle — the cookie served as both her birthday cake and her only gift. I remember watching my daughter from across the room, her eyes welling with tears. Something clicked for her, something that I could not have taught her. When we returned home, Isabella rushed to her room, collected all the presents she had gotten for her birthday , and told me that she wanted to take them to the little girl.

3) From your “outside” perspective, what does Chicago look like to you? Feel free to share thoughts on Chicago’s personality, opportunities and/or challenges.

I love how green and walkable Chicago is — with all the parks, the beautiful bike path along Lake Shore Drive, and the unique architecture and public art all over the city.