Remember how I told you about the Chicago Cares Serve-A-Thon a while back? Well it came and went and I can report back that it was an awesome event.
The day kicked off with a check in at Daley Plaza at 7am at which time we each got a bag full of PepsiCo products (hooray for my old company!) as well as a map with a circle around which bus we were each going to get on. The pre event took place from 7:30-9am during which time they served up coffee and bananas, had a guest speaker, and even had Musicality come sing few tunes. I will say, I think most people were there with groups so I was a little awkward just there with myself but I managed to make a few friends while mingling around the crowds before heading to the buses.
Then 9am rolled around and they started hearing the crowds towards the busses lined up on Wacker drive and I promptly found mine. As soon as I got on the bus I found a little blue slip of paper that explained where we were going and what the location was all about. Also as we got on the bus, we were each sent a personalized video recording from the CEO of Chicago Cares talking more about our specific destination for the day, Breakthrough Urban Ministries.
At about 9:15, with only 12 people on our school bus (the others were packed! I think we were the random solo people bus) pulled out and headed 4.5 miles due west for Garfield Park to get to the site.
When we arrived we were taken to a nice conference room and told more about the history and services that Breakthrough offers. Theres a women shelter, a youth department engagement program, and so much more. They’ve grown from single woman almost 25 years ago to a massive organization serving hundreds of people in the community. Some guests stay for 3-7 months as they transition to stability & contribution, others come for just a day to get a meal or shelter or laundry.
That day, we had two tasks: 1) to replant a large garden area and to clean and de-weed another that had been quite abandoned and overrun 2) to clean up & organizae what they call the west wing, a part of the women shelter that houses tons of items that have been donated or saved over the years.
Only two volunteers were needed for the outdoor duties and only two of us lifted our hands so alas I was on gardening!
Many of the women at the shelter spent the day hanging outside with us, having some casual conversation, giving us input on where we should plant their pretty new flowers and I ended up meeting some really neat people as part of my volunteer group.
We took a brief break for lunch at noon and then kept working until about 3pm. I had to leave directly from the location for a family commitment but following the event the plan was to debrief and then head back to Daley Plaza for a celebration during which time the leaders announce statistics etc for the day.
It was a very well run event and I would definitely recommend doing it next year if anyone out there is interested. In the meantime, I’m heading back to the Lincoln Park Community Shelter again in July & August and am really looking forward to it!