Lew and Sheila Coffin - Volunteer Spotlight (November 6th, 2023)
In mid-summer of 2023, Northwest Compass, Inc. received a generous grant from the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors to install a public community garden on site outside of our office. Northwest Compass, Inc. is a non-profit organization serving the Homeless and Housing insecure in the Northwest Suburbs of Cook County. At the time we did not know how we would pull off the installation of the garden project due to the tight deadline requested by the funding organization to have all work completed and
funds expended by September 15th, 2023. As active volunteers for Northwest Compass who were at that time working on maintaining our small vegetable garden, Lew and Sheila took this project under their wings and ran with it. They gathered and managed several groups of volunteers to assist in renovating the area, pulling out old plants, laying mulch, clean-up, installation of water features and bird feeders, installing benches, planting flowers and vegetables, and more. They also spearheaded the hiring of a contractor to put in gravel pathways that are handicapped accessible and a garden demonstration area and selected and managed installation of a large shed to store equipment.
Without their hard work and dedication to the project and to making the garden exceptional, we may not have been able to meet the requirements for funding.
In addition to the garden project, Sheila also works as a volunteer at our front desk assisting clients with intake and food pantry access and Lew is looking to take on another infrastructure project at Northwest Compass involving expenditure of grant funds to re-pave the hard surfaces outside the office including the parking lot and front steps to improve safety and accessibility.
Daivyon Bates and DeTerrion Corneal - Volunteer Spotlight (October 2nd, 2023)
Daivyon Bates and DeTerrion Corneal are AmeriCorps members serving at the Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries Youth Service Programs. The two young men believe in mentoring and being positive role models in the lives of the youth they serve. Furthermore, these young men attend the youth’s basketball games and events throughout the year to provide support. Daivyon Bates and Deterrion Corneal provide a family environment for each youth they mentor and allow them to dream as well as understand that if they work hard, anything is possible.
Daivyon and DeTerrion are born leaders. They coach
and mentor the youth in the program who are aged 17 and up to a tough championship game win of 70-60 at the Dayton Spring Championship. Daivyon and DeTerrrion understand what it means to mentor through sports.
Taylor Stevens - Volunteer Spotlight (September 13th, 2023)
Taylor Stevens is the Captain/Team Leader for the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and a Local First board member. She spearheaded a professional clothing drive in 2022 that was HUGE; the goal was to help those in need of professional clothing to help them find a career path. Taylor created a cornhole/silent auction to help raise money for childhood cancer (Go June for June Benefit). She also volunteered to be on a panel for the Springfield Police Department conducting mock interviews to those going through training to become a police officer.
Lindsey Sadler - Volunteer Spotlight (August 7th, 2023)
"In early 2023, I reached out to my local youth soccer league in my hometown of Anna, IL. I am the mother of a special needs child and I am always looking for opportunities for my son to be included. I quickly found out that there was a strong need for a special needs sports team in our area. Upon bringing my idea to the Union County Soccer League, I was approached by parents in other counties about coming to ours to play because no such team existed in their towns either. I quickly went to work volunteering all my free hours to this new Special Needs Program. I worked on this team every hour I wasn't at my full-time job. I had a vision initially - I wanted the program to be free to special needs families. Special needs families
often have financial hardships relating to their child's diagnosis. I approached businesses in my town and presented them with my idea. I created a program plan, purpose statement, budget, and schedule. The purpose of this team is to celebrate players of all abilities. Using a social soccer program structure, this team exists to serve children with physical and developmental disabilities and for players that might be more comfortable participating on a less competitive team. This program is open to any boy or girl, ages 3-13. It is designed to bring the excitement and fun of playing soccer to players who traditionally have not had a place in the youth soccer system. Union County Soccer League encourages participation and passion in youth soccer and this team is a part of UCSL and participates under their guidance.
Fast forward to March 2023 - The Warriors Special Needs Soccer Team has their inaugural game and I see my dream come to life. I have 19 players, a handful of devoted volunteers, and myself. It is absolutely heartwarming to see my community embrace minds of all kinds, and their level of support has been overwhelming. But, the best part of all is the smiles and the laughter from my players. One parent confided that their daughter loves soccer again, because of this team. Another shared she'd never seen her son smiling so much! And that is why I do this. It's always been about them and for them and that is how it will remain. I hope to continue this program for as long as I possibly can. GO WARRIORS!"
To learn more about The Warriors Special Needs Soccer Team, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ucslwarriors/
Tonya Powers - Volunteer Spotlight (July 7th, 2023)
Tonya Powers Serves as Executive Director for Homeless United for Change (HUC) on a volunteer basis. Tonya brings together numerous organizations, churches, and people who provide in-kind and money donations for community organizing projects and to feed the chronically homeless at the Overflow Shelter in Springfield, IL. Tonya initiated the project years ago to help nurses excel at their work by bringing them in to serve as volunteers with HUC. This project continues and allows them to earn community service hours which enables them to climb their career ladders. Tonya also brought in two
churches as well as numerous independent people who also serve with her and because of her to help the chronically homeless.
She serves on the Board of Directors of Body of Christ of Buffalo on a volunteer basis. Tonya has a talent for bringing people together for fun activities such as movie nights and skating nights and does photo shoots with her pets bringing joy to both adults and children. And, she organizes fundraisers to support well needed church projects. She also bakes the best pumpkin rolls and donates the proceeds to the church on special occasions.
Tonya also volunteers at SouthTower community church on several projects as well always to help others.
Lynn Eichorn - Volunteer Spotlight (June 6th, 2023)
Lynn Eichorn, a former teacher with a deep love for both children and reading, has been fostering the promise of literacy with Reading Power for over seven years.“The time I spend at Reading Power is so positive and energizing. Seeing students improve their reading skills and gain self-confidence is a gift,” Lynn shares. Lynn started out tutoring one or two days a week, and then because of the bond she felt with her students, she has been volunteering up to four days a week so no student would ever miss out on a tutoring session.
When she’s not at Reading Power, you might find Lynn enjoying a Notre Dame football game, a Cubs baseball game, or walking her two dogs. She is now also spending some of her days babysitting a new granddaughter.
Reading Power is a literacy nonprofit headquartered in Lake County, IL. They provide in-person one-to-one tutoring to students at risk of reading failure during the school day.
Rosa Pineda Lopez - Volunteer Spotlight (May 2nd, 2023)
Rosa is a Fellow (2nd Year Ally) with Public Allies Chicago. Rosa supports teachers and partners at Chicago Public Schools. Rosa is developing a system and manual for guiding new vendors through the vendor process, purchasing process, and invoicing requirements at CPS. The infographic Rosa made helped train approximately 30 teachers on the procurement and purchasing process. We asked Rosa to share more about herself and her work.
What are three strengths you bring to your team?
1. I am able to give gentle reminders to the team that CPS Students are people too. All of them come from different walks of life and not everyone has the same
privileges. It's important to remind the team, vendors, and partners that CPS students sometimes do come from low income households. The expectations that these students have are very different from their other counterparts. Sometimes they have jobs, home expectations, or children. Also bringing in some much needed cultural awareness.
2. Being a former teacher. I am able to bring a perspective of what students' immediate concerns/needs are. Students would share their feelings and thoughts about social justice, their neighborhoods, and what they need to succeed in their education pathways.
3. Being a CPS parent. I can share how it feels on the other side of the issue. There is a lack of resources, school counselors, and information for parents. There is always that gentle reminder of systemic oppression that black and brown citizens of Chicago must go through. How that affects us and our children.
Share more about work you are doing:
o Traveling to CPS High Schools with Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs to support our partner demonstration and presentations.
o Building relationships with the CTE teachers and providing support.
o Visiting partner sites including Lurie Children’s Hospital and Rush.
o Developing a CTE Summer Internship Handbook to help the teachers, vendors and partners and will include a how- to -soft skills, program expectations and resources.
o Creating visual resources for teachers and vendors to support communications efforts.
What are 2-3 leadership qualities you possess?
Rosa: It's so important to be able to follow as you are able to lead. I do not like being a leader but I will step up when it's needed. I lead with intention and understanding. I stay as the most authentic version of myself I can be. It's more important to guide and inspire than to boss people around and expect them to do as you like because you said so. I am also meticulous and stick to guidelines and deadlines.
Rosa’s supervisor shares that: “Rosa is a true asset and is doing a wonderful job…She's created a phenomenal graphic that will be used by the vendors and teachers…I am glad Rosa is our PA. She's already adored by other staff members and I can see why. She's very thorough, dedicated, and thoughtful.”
Jorge Reynoso - Volunteer Spotlight (March 28th, 2023)
When Jorge Reynoso came to Public Allies Chicago (PAC) he was looking for an opportunity to engage with the community. His desire was to work with and use his filming skills to tell the stories of communities in Chicago. In terms of skills, he was looking to develop more communication skills and to challenge himself to be more social after having gotten feedback on being reserved in conversation. Despite not having gotten to work with the organization that was his first choice, Jorge never wavered in his positive attitude and excitement towards his leadership journey with us.
One of the most fulfilling and challenging dynamics of his service with us has been having complete ownership of our 30th year anniversary video project. This project entailed capturing the stories of alumni that have served in the Chicago site at some point. Prior to this point, Jorge was used to having someone else leading an initiative and taking direction from there. Driving this initiative was a mindset shift, but has been rewarding and demonstrated to him what he’s capable of. Throughout this process, Jorge has engaged with several stakeholders at PAC across various platforms and has expanded his network. Our stakeholders include current allies (apprentices who serve in our program), alumni, staff, and partner nonprofits. I’ve watched him lead an ice breaker in team meetings, present his work to us, take excellent photos documenting events, and work to feature his fellow allies at their placement sites.
Jorge had the following to say about his experience when asked what has had a positive impact on him during his Ally experience:
“The staff that has supervised me in any capacity. It’s been helpful having them to support me nonjudgmentally throughout my experience. Knowing I can go to someone to check in and get support is a good feeling.”
Donna Wellman - Volunteer Spotlight (February 6th, 2023)
Donna Wellman, who is 88 years old has been volunteering at Teen Turf for 15 years. She bakes homemade cookies for the children in our free afterschool homework program. She talks to all the kids, who range from 9 and up, when she hands them a cookie during meal time. She always has a smile for the kids and has quite a bond with them. She supports our fundraising events and dances as well.
To view Teen Turf's Facebook, click here!
Dr. Joseph F. Hagenbruch D.M.D - Volunteer Spotlight (January 25, 2023)
Dr. Hagenbruch has volunteered his general dentistry restorative skills at the Family Health Partnership clinic for several years. He is the clinics most time devoted volunteer, shows up early and stays late. He has sacraficed time at his well established private practice and time with his family to take care of the dental needs of the patients at FHPC. Fillings, crowns, dentures, patient education, and spreading joy are just a few of his many talents. He has been a dentist for over 35 years and is our leader at FHPC. Whether you are in his chair as a patient or working along side him as a professional, you are bound to learn something and laugh along the way. His selflessness to take care of his patients is unmeasurable.
Noureen Hashim - Volunteer Spotlight (January 17, 2023)
Noureen is an active volunteer at Care for Real, a food pantry in Edgewater. She also participates as a volunteer to clean and beautify the Edgewater neighborhood and beaches. She serves in a volunteer capacity for several boards including the United Nations Women USA - Chicago Chapter, Nourishing Hope Young Leaders Board, and LiteracyWorks Associates Board. Over the last five years, she has served as the National Program Manager for Ismaili CIVIC, a faith-based civic engagement organization, that addresses social issues, such as food insecurity, homelessness, and environmentalism, in local communities through
community service, civic activism and interfaith collaboration. Previously, she has traveled across the country to lead service learning treks with college students. View her LinkedIn here.
Posthumously, Susan Powers - Volunteer Spotlight (January 3, 2023)
Susan Louise Kelly Power, lifetime activist, mother, and friend to many, died Oct. 29, 2022, at the age of 97 in Chicago, Illinois. Susan was a fierce advocate for the Chicago Indigenous community and a founder of the nation’s first urban American Indian Center. Susan Power, a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, helped establish the American Indian Center in Chicago in the 1950s and participated in several other Indigenous organizations around
Chicago, including the Indian Council Fires. In the early 1970s, she joined in a historic protest, the Chicago Indian Village Movement, that cast a spotlight on poor living conditions for Native people in Chicago. A Celebration of Susan's life will be held in January of 2023 in Chicago.