My parents raised me to be a good Chicagoan. I know that anything less than 5 inches of snow is a flurry and it’s perfectly acceptable to hold your winter parking spot with lawn furniture. I know we drink “pop;” not soda, and the number 23 is reverential. In addition to being a good Chicagoan, I was also raised to be a good person, so the work of non-profits has always had a special place in my heart. Being the good Chicagoan that I am, I know my city. I know where the best shopping and restaurants are and of course I have the hook-up on some of the best volunteer opportunities this side of the Mississippi!
I begin with one of my favorites, A Silver Lining Foundation (ASLF). ASLF works to ensure that every woman has access to quality cancer education and prevention services. They provide vital services to low-income women through partnerships with the city’s 3-1-1 center, health organizations throughout Chicago and their signature “Buy a Mom a Mammogram” program. Program Coordinator Kathy Smith welcomes you to “volunteer at the health fairs we participate in, or staff the office.” There’s also an auxiliary board for young professionals. I love to help with “A Sterling Event,” ASLF’s annual gala. I help organize auction prizes prior to the event and I help execute the program the night of. The gala is always a grand fete, but I actually get to meet women who’ve received free mammograms as a result of gala proceeds; that’s the part I most adore.
I also adore working with Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care (VBCCC). A Heartland Health Outreach program, VBCCC’S mission is to assist Chicagoans impacted by HIV & AIDS and other chronic illnesses by providing food, nutrition, housing, case management and prevention services. I’ve volunteered at their South Side Grocery Center. I helped AIDS patients too sick to work or grocery shop for themselves by filling their free grocery orders for them. Michelle Patterson, VBCCC Development Manager says the group also “has opportunities to event plan, inventory donations, paint, clean, do site maintenance or provide in-office assistance.” With program sites on the North, South and West Sides of Chicago and in Elk Grove Village and Oak Park, people from all over Chicagoland can pitch in.
Pitching in is what it’s all about; we’re not just the city of “big wind” or “big shoulders,” we’re also the city of big hearts!
Special Thanks to:
Kathy Kalesperis Smith, Program Outreach and Development Coordinator, A Silver Lining Foundation
Dr. Sandra A. Goldberg, Chairman and Founder, A Silver Lining Foundation
Michelle M. Patterson, Development Manager, Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care
James Hoskins, Food Program Coordinator, South Side, Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care