Volunteers are often the lifeblood of a school, providing skills, dedication, and time that otherwise would not be available. In turn, volunteers join in strengthening school communities across Chicago, broadening their own experience with the city.
Big Shoulders Fund offers a range of volunteer opportunities, with individuals serving as mentors, tutors, sports coaches, guest instructors, school board members, and more. The “Next Generation” of leaders who will guide Big Shoulders into the future includes two groups: the Auxiliary Board and the Chairmen’s Advisory Council.
The Auxiliary Board is now in its 12th year, with 200 (and growing) members who volunteer, fundraise, and publicize the Big Shoulders mission. This fall, the board is sharing its expertise through tutoring, test prep, essay review, and mock interviews across the Big Shoulders Fund network.
“St. Sylvester has benefitted from the generosity of numerous Big Shoulders Fund volunteers,” commented Principal Allyn Doyle. “From tutoring students in math and assisting teachers to landscaping, painting, and reorganizing classrooms, Big Shoulders volunteers have made a big difference in the quality of the education we offer to our students.”
Jeff Apel joined the Auxiliary Board in 2007 after seeking a charity focused on early education. “Big Shoulders stood out with its amazing leadership, impressive supporters, and great families,” he said. Apel joined the Epiphany Catholic School board in 2008 and is now its chair.
“My favorite thing about volunteering on the school board is being part of a team—the principal, teachers, parents, and other volunteers from the business community. Epiphany is in the top 10 schools for enrollment growth. One of the biggest drivers of that success is annual support from Big Shoulders.”
Corporate Service Days offer companies a dedicated opportunity for a positive collective volunteering experience. Terry Donnelley, president and COO of ComEd and Big Shoulders Fund board member, recently brought 30 employees to Maternity BVM School for a day of service. Donnelley embraced the spirit of his surroundings by assuming the role of “principal” for the day, with the promise of a gold star or the threat of a detention based on effort.
The Chairmen’s Advisory Council (CAC) has grown to 160 members and aims to increase support for Big Shoulders and involvement of prospective board members. The CAC also supports the Chairmen’s Emergency Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance for families in crisis. In a new endeavor this summer, CAC hosted a Night at Wrigley. For each of the 225 tickets sold, the Chicago Cubs donated $5 to support the scholarship.
A fun program that benefits schools with financial support and the volunteers with some outdoor exercise is the Big Shoulders Fund Racing Team, which last year raised more than $100,000 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Chicago Half Marathon. This fall, 69 individuals were part of the Racing Team, up from 31 members in 2013.
Auxiliary Board member and engineer Chris Goebbert shares his love of the markets with St. Agnes School through the Big Shoulders Fund Stock Market Program, which brings business professionals into eighth grade classrooms to teach basic concepts related to the financial markets, personal savings and investing concepts, and careers in the financial industry. “I took an economics class in high school that taught me the basics of investing, and it forever changed my life financially,” noted Goebbert.
“I owe that teacher a lot and wish he knew the difference he made on my future. I hope some of the lessons in this program resonate with the kids. If I can make an impact on even one kid’s future the way my teacher did with me, my mission will be fulfilled.”
Goebbert also served as 2018 Big Shoulders Fund Ball Co-Chair.
For information about volunteer opportunities, contact Kevin Pitts, Assistant Director, Volunteerism and Engagement.