The work of Chicago Cares is rooted in connection. We build community. We share resources. We care for one another.
For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting this way of life. The best thing we can do right now is physically isolate ourselves, but let’s not confuse that with social isolation. There are still many ways we can step up to support our neighbors and make an impact, and Chicago Cares is here to help you to do that.
Chicago Cares’ commitment to volunteerism is unwavering. We will continue to amplify the critical work of Chicago’s community organizations, particularly those serving the south and west sides of our city, and we will continue to help you increase your engagement over time, setting you on a path from connection to education to action.
Over the past two weeks, Chicago Cares has provided counsel and technical expertise to our community and institutional partners, including the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois, as they and others consider how to engage volunteers during the pandemic. Many organizations and institutions are working hard to reassign their current and displaced staff, recruit those who possess critical skillsets, and reimagine volunteer service that maintains social distancing requirements. After all, social distancing has limited service opportunities at the exact time when many are looking for ways to get engaged.
However, there are still urgent needs in our community and, acknowledging that urgency, we encourage you to connect directly with organizations accepting volunteers to sign up for available opportunities. Here are a few suggestions, but please click here and also subscribe to our social media channels as we will be posting up-to-date information there.
- Food banks, pantries, and social service providers are still looking for volunteers to pack and distribute food. Check out opportunities offered by Brave Space Alliance, Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Franciscan Outreach, Greater Chicago Food Depository, La Casa Norte, Lakeview Pantry, and The Night Ministry, who all provide vital services to Chicagoans.
- The city has launched efforts to connect Chicagoans who have experience caring for children with families of first responders in need of childcare. This new website will make it easier for essential workers to find reliable childcare that will allow them to continue their crucial work.
- Consider giving blood. The Chicago Red Cross has seen an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations and they are working hard to ensure we have sufficient blood during this critical time.
If you decide to volunteer, please be safe and consider the whole community, particularly those most vulnerable. Practice social distancing safeguards, wash your hands regularly, and stay home if you are sick.
Chicago Cares is also committed to helping us expand our definition of what it means to serve, to connect, and to support one another. Let’s use this exceptional time to build empathy even when we cannot always connect in person – by shifting the conversations we are having, by learning our neighbors’ stories, by educating ourselves on the issues we face, and by asking ourselves how we will be better advocates when this is all over. After all, this health crisis has revealed the significant fault lines in our policies and how much more we need to be doing to support our neighbors.
To that end, Chicago Cares will be rolling out a new series of virtual opportunities to keep us connected and engaged during these challenging times. We invite you to join us:
- To build the social connections that will help us collaboratively solve challenges facing our city,
- To learn more about the assets and challenges of Chicago’s neighborhoods, and
- To explore opportunities to take deeper action on an issue important to you, whether through advocacy, organizing, or other change efforts.
Invitations are coming soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to follow Chicago Cares on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn) to learn more about how you can socially connect with us even while we are physically distant. We will continue to be a resource for how you can make an impact during this crisis. When the pandemic ends, and it will end, let’s challenge ourselves to continue expanding our definition of what it means to serve one another so that the city can become more vibrant and equitable for all.