Hello,

Happy National Volunteer Week!

Volunteers are truly the life force of Chicago Lights. Their commitment and compassion make the life-changing work of Chicago Lights possible.

Thank you for mentoring students through high school graduation. Thank you for planting and weeding crops at our Urban Farm. Thank you for helping guests shop in our Food Pantry. Thank you for offering expertise and for fundraising. Thank you for being a part of the Chicago Lights family.

Although we cannot properly thank our volunteers in person right now, our staff has a special message this National Volunteer Week. Please watch the video below and keep reading to meet some of our incredible volunteers.
"It is a commitment—you need to show up, slowly build a relationship, and let your student know you are there to help them. I learned so much from each student about life, good times, and struggles. I watched them grow like they were my own kids, and they all knew I was there for them no matter what. It’s a life-changing way to volunteer!”

- Ann Linton, Chicago Lights Tutoring volunteer for 30 years

Ann Linton and Neriaah Tutoring
Ann with her student, Neriah, last fall at Chicago Lights Tutoring
“I think my volunteering makes a difference in my own life and the lives of those I get to share my experience with. This past year I obtained a certification in plant-based nutrition, and I taught a class to the high school kids at the Urban Farm. I love learning more about my community and getting involved to make the world just a little bit more green and healthy.”

- Dani Zielinski, Chicago Lights Urban Farm volunteer and a nurse at Northwestern Memorial currently caring for COVID-19 patients in the ICU

Dani Zielinski and Malcolm Patterson Urban Farm
Dani (left) with Chicago Lights Urban Farm Head Grower Malcolm Patterson (right) prepping produce at the Farmstand last year
"Over the last few years as I began to refine and expand my volunteer work, I focused on those organizations that were making a difference in bringing needed services to disadvantaged populations. It was also important for me to be associated with an organization where, in addition to my financial contribution, I was able to have a direct impact as a member of the board. For me, providing both active participation and financial assistance is the only way to make a true impact. Chicago Lights allows me the opportunity to do both."

- Joe Tyler, Chicago Lights Board of Directors
Urban Farm Cookout Chad Tischer and Joe Tyler
Joe Tyler (far right) with Board President Chad Tischer (center) and Heidi Tischer at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm community cookout last year
“I like volunteering in the Food Pantry, for I believe it is important to serve people who are under-resourced in our neighborhood. It is good to be reminded that even within Streeterville, the Gold Coast, and other adjacent areas, there are people in need. They are our neighbors. Working in the Food Pantry is an extremely rewarding experience because the guests who use our services are so grateful for the access to food and are people I look forward to seeing each month."

- Cassandra (Cass) Book, Chicago Lights Social Service Center Food Pantry volunteer

Cass Book Social Service Center Food Pantry volunteer
Cass welcomes guests to the Chicago Lights Social Service Center's Food Pantry
I really miss seeing the in-person connection among volunteers, students, and adults as they partner to overcome the challenges of poverty and build brighter futures.

But until we can be together again, I thank you. Your generosity and support mean the world.
Wishing you good health,
Stacy Jackson headshot
Stacy Jackson
Stacy Jackson
Executive Director
Chicago Lights builds brighter futures for Chicago's youth and adults through supportive relationships and life-changing programs.