In honor of Serve-a-thon, Chicago Cares is proud to share stories from the who’s who of our volunteers, philanthropists, and prominent Chicagoans in a series called “Three Questions With ….” We’re celebrating the diverse and dynamic voices that make a difference in our city and are inviting all to be part of the conversation! Please continue to share what Chicago means to you through tweets, pictures, videos, and more using hashtag #MyChi.

With registration for Serve-a-thon closing today, May 29, it’s only fitting to feature our fearless co-founder, Leslie Bluhm. We hope this entry and her recent Huffington Post article inspire you to sign up and join our movement!

Leslie Bluhm

1) Why did you decide to launch Serve-a-thon 21 years ago?

I wanted to show people the power of service and that the impact of Serve-a-thon goes well beyond the day of volunteering. It leads to new insights, new connections, and new commitments. It demonstrates that small acts lead to big changes. And it inspires and unites.

2) What’s your favorite Serve-a-thon memory from over the years?

I’ll never forget the powerful experience I had serving at Auburn Park many years ago. At the time, it was in poor condition and was not being used by the community. That day, I worked side by side with people who lived in Auburn Gresham. They were inspired by the army of volunteers that came into their neighborhood and helped to make it better. And I went back to that same park the next year and saw that it had been meticulously maintained by the community. It was a reminder that we can make great things happen and that no job is insurmountable when we come together.

3) What does Chicago look like to you? Feel free to share thoughts on Chicago’s personality, opportunities, and/or challenges.

Chicago is a city full of diverse people and perspectives, but we all have much in common. And when we come together and work toward a common goal, beautiful things happen. This is why Chicago Cares exists. To this day, every time I see a news story about Englewood, Austin, or Pilsen, I have context because I have been there and I have worked side by side with people in those communities. I have met teachers there and I have made friends there. This matters—to me, to tens of thousands of our Chicago Cares volunteers, and to the future of our city.