AmeriCorps Team Chicago Participates in Make a Difference Day

By vulpas on November 9, 2010 in AmeriCorps, Community Partnerships

photo of Team ChicagoOn Saturday, October 23, our team volunteered with our team member Tracy Gallagher’s host agency the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project (CWAP) at their annual Positive and Powerful, We’re Still Standing! conference.  The conference was an all-day event at the University of Illinois at Chicago and included a presentation by keynote speaker Waheedah Shabazz-El, empowerment workshops, movement workshops, a raffle and awards.

A week earlier, on Friday, October 15, we got together as a team at CWAP and prepared boxes of games and toys for the children who would be at the conference with their mothers.  We also organized fliers and made folders for the participants.

When we got to the conference, we each had different roles.  A few of the team members worked at the registration table, getting participants signed in and pointing them in the right direction to rooms that were spread out over three floors.  Others helped set up food, showed participants where their workshops were, and passed out information.  During the movement workshops, which included stepping and salsa, a few members of the team joined in learning the dance moves and mingling with participants.

What struck us most as a team were the various faces and ages that came through the door, giving light to who exactly we were serving: everyone. It wasn’t like magic to see them light up when we said there was breakfast, nor was it unbelievable that they smiled when we smiled, grateful to receive a break from their daily lives. What it was was real life and seeing how offering someone child care, meals, and exciting activities really meant a lot to women who traveled from all over the city to make it. What we recognized as a team is our obligation to servicing communities in need as they are dedicated to come when people provide opportunities for empowerment. Just being there and assisting however we could was a shot of reality: yes we made a difference and yes it was absolutely appreciated.

The event was really fun and, thanks to Tracy’s leadership, everything went smoothly.  We were able to spend time supporting the participants who were living with HIV/AIDS in a way that was outside of our usual professional role.  We were able to meet their children, shake their hands and help them in ways that testing and counseling doesn’t let us. In order to recognize the humanity of the situation, that we are not dealing with clients but with people who have needs, that made a world of difference for us. We are thankful for the chance to see a different color in the spectrum of being in service to our community.

- Annie V. and Phillip W., Team Chicago

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