Chicago Cares Volunteer Event: Lincoln Park Community Shelter

You might remember in my Ways To Get Involved Volunteer Edition post I mentioned how awesome the StateFarm Neighborhood of Good website is for finding opportunities and I can officially vouch for it! Two weeks ago I volunteered with Chicago Cares to make and serve breakfast at Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

There were 5 volunteers that day including me, plus the volunteer lead who is there once a month and coordinates everything (getting the groceries, planning the meal, giving us tasks, etc)

Let me just tell you, it was such an awesome experience I’ve already signed up for more!

Two Wednesdays a month Chicago Cares hosts breakfast at the Lincoln Park Community Center which houses 30-40 men and women who are working to get back on their feet. The shelter, as one female resident told me, is “extremely efficient & effective” with the money they are given, offering life skills classes, help in finding jobs and apartments when the residents are ready to move on, and  incentivizing residents to finish certain financial literacy courses with a stipend when they graduate to go towards furnishing their own apartment. The shelter has also teamed up with a corporate sponsor who provides a plethora of volunteers for dinner along with all new appliances and gadgets in the kitchen.

The cooking started when we met up at the shelter at 6:15am and took about an hour and a half. Once we finished making eggs, turkey bacon, sausage, yogurt parfaits, and pancakes we served up the hot meals to the men and women living at the shelter and then enjoyed some time eating and chatting with them.

The same female resident that told me about how well the shelter uses their funds, also told me that she feels so safe there. She was unfortunately in an abusive marriage and ended up falling into a bad crowd of people, in turn leaning on drugs to cope. She ended up serving time in prison and has bounced around to many safe houses and shelters throughout her marriage and after her stint in jail. She is now 4 years sober and is about to move into a one bedroom place of her own, in large part due to the support of the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

I had such a great experience not only talking to the residents and serving them a nice warm meal which they so appreciated, but I got to cook all sorts of yummy breakfast foods I never make at home like pancakes and bacon. I realized it was a great way to use my skills in the kitchen to help others in my city and I cannot wait to volunteer there again!

To sign up click HERE but hurry these spots fill up fast! I've already signed up for times in July & August!