Photo of Evanston Day of Caring Gardening Volunteers

A gray sky and monsoon-like conditions didn’t break the spirits of 68 volunteers ready to give back to their community during our 4th Annual Evanston Day of Caring.

A volunteer-based community event, Evanston Day of Caring brings together residents and corporate employees to complete projects at social service agencies across the neighborhood.

“I believe investing in our communities is our civic duty,” said Joe Higgins, executive director of external affairs at Comcast. “It infuses pride and productivity to residents and is a great way to give back.”

Rallying the volunteer troops

To kick off the day of volunteerism, United Way of Metro Chicago and our Evanston partners hosted a breakfast rally at Wild Café at Northwestern University’s Ryan Field. Evanston Mayor Steven Hagerty was there to energize the crowd.

“Having a day where people can come together and learn about the different opportunities the city has to offer for giving and to support people in need is fantastic,” said Hagerty. “I hope at the end of the day people will want to get more involved in our community.”

Following the rally, the volunteers were sent off to work at one of six project sites. Each site was created in partnership with a United Way of Metro Chicago community partner, including the Evanston YWCA, PEER Services, and Connections for the Homeless, all part of United Way’s Evanston Neighborhood Network and Evanston Cradle to Career.

Serving through shelter projects

At the Evanston YWCA community center and women’s shelter, volunteers worked on a variety of projects, from weeding and mulching to prepping the shelter for winter. Those working outside even continued transporting wheel-barrels full of mulch during a torrential downpour.

“This site is where the diehard volunteers are,” Brian Cataldo, relationship manager at United Way of Metro Chicago, joked as he worked.

With the change in seasons, many of the area shelters were also prepping for colder weather, including Hilda’s Place, a homeless shelter located in the basement of Lake Street Church.

The shelter, run by our partner agency Connections for the Homeless, serves about 1,000 people per year, according to Lisa Todd, the organization’s community outreach manager. Volunteers helped sort through piles of clothing in preparation for the increased need. “As the weather turns, people will come to our drop-in program looking for winter clothing, and we’ll have plenty of clothes to warm them up.”