As we gear up for our biggest volunteering day of the year, Serve-a-thon, this June 27, we’re sharing stories from Chicago Cares volunteers, staff and supporters about what I’m Impact means to them.

Want to join the fun? Tweet or Instagram a story, photo or quote with #ImImpact 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, by May 17. Click here for details.

Today, meet Dan Alberti, Chicago Cares’ director of corporate volunteer programs, and hear his take on the unexpected impacts of volunteering.

Dan Alberti2

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

There is certainly the obvious impact that can be measured: litter removed, hours served, money saved. But the largest impact comes from showing people that others do care. Many times it is complete strangers that work with the people or the communities in need. It just shows that we are all one city.

If I could tell Chicagoans any one thing, it would be: Do something! Find a cause important to you and start getting involved. Even the smallest efforts can make an impact.

Also, stop using the “dibs” system during the winter. It’s not helping.

2. What are some unexpected effects you’ve experienced or witnessed from civic engagement?

Volunteerism is contagious. The desire to give back can spread easily. When I hear stories about how people get involved in service, it almost always stems from a friend or family member that turned them onto it. While a volunteer’s direct efforts are important, little do they know that they are probably inspiring someone else to give.

3. What’s your favorite story about Chicago Cares or volunteering?

I am impressed with Serve-a-thon every year. This year will be my sixth Serve-a-thon and it never fails to amaze me. So much goes into planning this event, but the work is always worth it in the end.

Serve-a-thon would never happen if it wasn’t for our volunteer leaders. These are dedicated people that put in so much extra time in making sure the event goes well and everything gets done. Volunteer Leaders have a rewarding experience, but it can be stressful.  But every year, they come back. Seeing the same friendly faces at the end of the day, year after year, is my favorite part.