Wednesday, December 16, 2009

midwest swing.

Dearest comrades,
Let me tell you about Team Chicago's November. A time filled with first snows and Guy Fawkes' masks. With Bears' and Bulls' losses. Oh, and Blackhawk wins. They play hockey. Or something.

Our first Fifth day was on November the sixth. We met in the morning and put together safe sex kits. Then we broke up into three teams, covering the north, south, and west sides of the city. There, we handed out our 'awesome night in a bag' kits. According to Kevin's estimate, as a team we reached out to 2,000 individuals and handed out approximately 500 safe sex kits. After this, we went to the Humboldt Park Soup Kitchen where we thought we'd just be serving the meal and chatting with the people there, but it turned out that the cooks weren't going to be coming that evening, so we made and served the entire meal for about 60 people. It was a great day for the team as we reached a huge population in Chicago.

The next week, Mallory and I planned the fifth day. We spent a few hours unloading supplies for a food pantry. In all, we unloaded about 3,000 pounds of food! Later on, we went to my agency, TPAN, and painted the entire staff area (which now looks phenomenal). We did however, sadly, lose one AmeriCorps sweatshirt to paint that day. RIP Katrece's sweatshirt.

(Katrece, happy, before the destruction of her sweatshirt)

(Davina, getting stuff done)

Next, we volunteered and attended the Chicago Youth Against AIDS conference. It was a forum that discussed HIV in the context of young adults. We discussed how kids can be comfortable in their skin, how to reach out to youth, and why we think young people are so complacent towards the disease.

The next week we ate a lot of turkey.

And then finally, for World AIDS Day, we had the honor of attending and volunteering at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's 'World of Chocolate' fundraiser. Taking place in the Hilton Chicago, this testament to AFC's prowess in the community redefined my concept of class. The Governor of Illinois, along with hundreds of others, enjoyed a huge variety of chocolate vendors as the AFC raised over $200,000 that evening.

And then Team Chicago, all dressed up, cleaned up the Hilton.

November was an exciting time for us. It seemed all of our fifth days took shape quickly and had a very real effect on the Chicago community. Our fifth days are a chance to reach out to communities we don't see Monday-Thursday. A chance to see Chicago from a new perspective and tackle problems you didn't know existed. A chance to help a larger community than you see at your agency and a time to see where your friends work everyday. Also, sometimes, you get free food.

I'll post again in January! From Team Chicago, Enjoy the holidays. And here's a holiday food tip:
Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.


Mallory said...

It was actually close to 10,000 pounds of food that we unloaded at Lakeview Pantry... and some of us felt it the next day.

Kevin said...

I'm entirely convinced that having Arun write all the blog posts for our team was a good idea. They're very entertaining.