This is our city, our future, and improving it starts with us. As we gear up for Serve-a-thon, we’re sharing stories about what this concept – I’m Impact – means to them, in 3 short questions.

Today, meet Rosie Drumgoole, Chicago Cares manager of ongoing programs, about how her family’s legacy of service inspired her, and how volunteering has created a new tradition in her family.

Want to share your #ImImpact story? Tweet or Instagram with #ImImpact this week to enter for a chance to win an awesome prize, like a free month of yoga at CorePower or cooking classes for 2 at Whole Foods Market. Click here for details.

Rosie Drumgoole

What do you think is the biggest impact that comes from volunteering?

I think the biggest impact is education. When you volunteer you learn so much about the issue area, the neighborhood, the task and yourself. That kind of information can be life-changing. All of a sudden you go from tunnel vision to becoming an informed and concerned citizen.

When did you decide you wanted to commit your life to public service?

I’ve always wanted to serve others. My mother worked for the public aide office and my aunt worked for DCFS. So growing up I watched two women who loved and thought the world of dedicating their lives to making sure others were able to get the services and help they needed to succeed. People’s lives were better because they encountered them. I always thought that was amazing, and I knew I wanted to be able to say the same thing about myself  If I can say that I’ve left the world a little bit better than I found it, then I know I’ve been successful.

What’s your favorite story about volunteering?

I have to pick just one?! I have so many! I think one of my most memorable projects was my first Thanksgiving project. I was leading a project where we made Thanksgiving lunch for a group of seniors, and then played bingo with them after the meal. I was completely freaked out. I love to cook and love working with seniors, but that thought of cooking a Thanksgiving meal for 50 seniors was super daunting. Not only that, but our founder was coming to the project with her family. I hadn’t met her before at that point, but I knew I didn’t want to disappoint her. My family ended up helping me so much. They went shopping with me, helped me prepare a menu, and then they came to the project as well.

Well, all of my stressing was for naught. It was an amazing project. We had about 12 volunteers in total feed about 50 seniors and play multiple rounds of bingo. We laughed, ate, and our founder’s kids called bingo and did a great job! The project ended up being one of my favorites, and now it’s something my family and I look forward to every year. I think there was one year where we didn’t volunteer and the holiday just didn’t feel right. So I guess you could say Chicago Cares gave my family a new tradition and I couldn’t be happier about it!