By Alex Baird

When Lisa Jung graduated college and moved back to Chicago in 2010, she wasn’t sure where her career would go, but one thing was clear: Volunteering would be part of the fabric of her life.

“I’ve always been a very firm believer that in order to better the community you have to really take part in it and invest time,” said Lisa, whose parents encouraged her to volunteer from the age of 5. That’s what led her to sign up for her first project with Chicago Cares, an arts program with kids at McCormick Elementary.

“After that experience I was like, ‘This is amazing!’” Lisa said. “I loved the ability to go to these programs and build connections, and really feel inspired.”

Lisa eventually became a Volunteer Leader, one of the specially trained volunteers that lead our ongoing programs. Today she leads two programs – Pet Therapy at Covenant Home and Job Coaching at Open Door Shelter. As a Volunteer Leader, Lisa not only manages the logistics of her programs, but empowers and encourages the volunteers to do their best.

“Hearing the passion in their voices when they talk about why they’re there, what they love about the program, it really gives me a very emotional moment of being like ‘Oh my gosh, this is great,’” Lisa said. “Chicago is going to blossom and it’s going to bloom because of people like these who are volunteering.”

Lisa said that she never imagined she’d be as ingrained in the Chicago Cares culture as she is now, having stayed a committed volunteer through different life stages and jobs. Today, Lisa is a customer success manager at Hireology. What’s her advice for volunteers who are just getting started?

“The great thing about Chicago Cares, which I talk to everybody about, is that flexibility,” she said. “It’s OK if you volunteered one time and you didn’t like the program. Everybody’s a little bit different, and that’s OK. There are so many other programs. Allow yourself to be open to a new experience and know that everybody’s been in that same position of starting something new.”