Putting the ‘Lunt’ in Volunteer.

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

To all the do-gooders, past, present, and future, I bid you a Happy National Volunteer week!

Studies show that volunteers lead lives that are measurably more enriched and fulfilled. Here is evidence on the powerful impact of giving from The Globalization for the Common Good Initiative. PBS also has a special segment called “This Emotional Life” which also offers insight on giving and altruism. Happily, volunteerism is trending in The United States, a remarkable reminder that kindness never goes out of style.

I’ve been volunteering at 826 Chicago since 2008. What a great place this is—miles and miles of exceptionally sweet, smart, and absurdly generous people. Not only have I had some great experiences promoting literacy and strengthening my community, I’ve met truly incredible people, making fantastic friends along the way. I help school children with creative writing projects andBoringStore homework, or help staff The Boring Store,  a fund-raising storefront that specializes in selling ridiculous wares, such as samurai sword umbrellas and stainless steel fish flasks (I have one, of course), all to benefit Chicago Public School students! Even now, plans are underway for the annual 826 Chicago “Prom” (21 and over) dance and fundraiser. This year’s 826 Chicago Prom themes are fantastically weird.  This year’s Prom 9 From Outer Space promises to be replete with neo-futuristic costumes galore! If you are interested, buy your tickets here.

LPConservatoryRecently I began the training program to become a volunteer docent at The Lincoln Park Conservatory. Expand my volunteering life to the Lincoln Park Conservatory is the best decision I’ve made in 2014. Naturally, the conservatory is sublime, but even more impressive is the team of seasoned volunteers, who work as part of The Lincoln Park Conservancy, devoting their time to teach my trainee class a considerable amount about the Chicago Park district, and I mean a lot: the history of the parks, the origin of the plants, the nature of interpretation, and the importance of green spaces are all part of the training curriculum, and like a true nerd, I’m thrilled to have homework!

Most significantly, I began volunteering thanks to the extraordinary example of the people I know and love. Nearly all of my closest family and friends support the work of amazing non-profit organizations. Below is a (incomplete) list of the fantastic organizations my friends and family have enriched with their time and talents.

The American Red Cross

Autism Speaks

Bike Walk Logan Square

Boy Scouts of America

Chicks Against Hunger

Cleveland International Film Festival

Corner FarmVolunteer2

Donate Life

Girl Scouts of America

Habitat for Humanity

The Humane Society

The Peace Corp

Teach for America

The United Way

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly involved in volunteer work. Allow me to highly recommend you do the same!

  1. Marletta says:

    Thank you providing the of organizations for volunteerering. I have enjoyed volunteering and was excited to hear about The Lincoln Park Conservatory’s training program.

  2. Kristin says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post!

    Spring is known for “cleaning” time, so it would be an excellent idea for students and faculty to clean their homes and donate items that are no longer of use to them to local charities. You’d be surprised if you spend a little bit cleaning out your closet to see how many items of clothing you have that haven’t been worn in over a year! I was listening to a talk segment on B96 a few weeks ago about how some women actually have clothes and shoes valued at $500 or more that have never been worn just sitting in their closets. People were calling in and admitting to doing this – imagine how nice it would be if those clothes were donated to people who truly needed them rather than just sitting there and taking up space. A clothing drive was recently held at Willow Bend School, and over 75 families came to “shop” for clothing. Almost all of the items were gone by the end of the day.

    I believe that volunteer work is very important and special. Giving your time to a cause that is close to your heart is so unbelievable rewarding! I work with a lighthouse restoration group called Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands in Door County, Wisconsin. Our group is working to preserve the lighthouse and range stations so that others can continue to enjoy them as they are an important part of Door County’s history. Plum Island is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and the work that I have done on the island has been informative and useful – I can now use a circular saw without screaming thanks to the help of a very patient, seasoned volunteer!

    Monetary donations are also wonderful, especially if you are not able to give of your time. I always like to donate to Native American charities in honor of my grandmother on her birthday because that was a cause she supported. By doing so, not only do I get to remember my grandmother and know that I am making her happy, I’m also supporting people who are in need.

    I recently saw a quote on Facebook that says “if you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.” Sometimes just the simple act of paying it forward is rewarding and an act of volunteering and promoting kindness, even if it’s just something small and simple. Making others happy is what life should truly be all about!

    If anyone is interested in joining Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands or curious about the work that we do, please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/plumandpilot‎

    We also are going to be taking on a special project next month in building Aldo Leopold benches to put on the island. For more information, please visit: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5e3f36c90cc2fa2f4b9ad8e33&id=ac22d14b2e&e=b8ee01aa9a

    I plan on dedicating a bench to my grandmother as well. She loved Door County and had a summer home up there that I went to each year when I was a kid. Being able to donate a bench in her memory is very special to me, and I know she would appreciate it.

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