More volunteer opportunities
Christmas is over, but that doesn’t mean the season of giving has to be. For the civic-minded, wholehearted do-gooder, volunteering may be the difference between keeping spirits high and succumbing to winter blues. Instead of letting your spare time go to waste, turn it over to a worthy cause. Plus, you might not feel too shabby about yourself, either. Luckily, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in and around the area to fulfill anyone’s altruistic inclinations.
Cabrini Connections provides tutoring and mentoring for 7th- through 12th-grade students living in Cabrini-Green public housing.
Volunteer description: Though spots for permanent mentors are filled, the organization has openings for substitute roles in the program. Substitutes come to the program on a regular basis and are matched with students whose mentor is not available for the day.
How to get involved: Visit cabriniconnections.net to fill out a volunteer interest form. For more information about volunteering, call 312-492-9614. All volunteers must undergo a criminal background check.
Why you should volunteer: “We work with students who have career aspirations, but they need more people in their network,” says EL Da’Sheon Nix, administrative coordinator for the program. “We have volunteers from a variety of [career] fields.”
Center for Economic Progress
The Center for Economic Progress helps low-income families by providing them with tax counseling and financial services, as well as advocating for policies and practices on their behalf.
Volunteer description: The center is looking for volunteers to prepare taxes for low-income individuals and families. No experience is necessary to be a tax preparer, but training is provided. Volunteers interested in tax site assistance are also needed.
How to get involved: Contact Angela Perkins at 312-630-0288 or visit economicprogress.org/volunteer to register online.
Why you should volunteer: Even if you’re not savvy with numbers, the Center is a great way to return money to low-income families. “I think our country’s tax system is very complicated,” says Faith Hinz, marketing and media specialist for the organization. “So many people don’t claim tax credits because they don’t know they can.”
Center on Halsted
The Center on Halsted is one of the Midwest’s largest resources for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Volunteer description: Volunteers take an interest in the community and work in many facets of the center. Volunteers often serve as receptionists, monitors and teachers in the computer lab, workers in the youth program, and support staff at cultural events, among other things.
How to get involved: Visit the center’s website at centeronhalsted.org to submit a volunteer application and learn more about upcoming orientation dates.
Why you should volunteer: “There’s not a lot of places in Chicago where you can volunteer with the LGBT community,” says Sarah Sumadi, director of the volunteer program at the center. “I think we’re unique in that sense.”
Garfield Park Conservatory
Located a few minutes from downtown, the conservatory—which is a Chicago Park District facility—boasts six greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls.
Volunteer description: From gardening to beekeeping, there are multitudes of ways to get involved with the conservatory. Other aspects include family programming, special events and administrative support. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age.
How to get involved: Contact Mattie Wilson, volunteer programs coordinator, at 773-638 – 1766 ext. 26 or email@example.com, for more information and a volunteer application. Volunteers must attend an orientation and undergo fingerprinting.
Why you should volunteer: For outdoor enthusiasts, the conservatory combines passion with service. “It’s a great way to learn more about plants,” says Wilson. “Any kind of help is really appreciated and needed.”
Hyde Park Art Center
As the oldest alternative exhibition space in the city, the organization works primarily with Chicago-area artists and offers educational programs in the arts for both adults and children.
Volunteer description: The center is looking for volunteers to help with administrative work, installing exhibitions and assisting at events and programs, among other things. Volunteers are not required to commit a certain number of hours. The organization is also accepting applications for its Art Corps program, which allows volunteers to get more involved by receiving in-depth training about the center, exhibitions and programs. Art Corps members must volunteer at least ten times a year and attend four training sessions.
How to get involved: Contact Crystal Pernell at 773-324-5520 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit hydeparkart.org to fill out a short volunteer questionnaire.
Why you should volunteer: “The best part of volunteering here is it’s easy and fun,” says Pernell. “You’re volunteering and giving back to the community, but enjoying the art center in a fun and relaxed setting.”