Archive of ‘Living & Giving’ category

Volunteering in the ‘Burbs

Six months ago, I swapped my Chicago (proper) address for a suburban one (*sobs*) and have been adjusting to life ever since. There are many practical reasons why I chose to move to the suburbs, but the most important one was my husband’s declaration that he would never live in the city of Chicago. I begged and tried to sell him on the virtues of my hometown, but it was a no go. I get it.

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So, now I’m out here and am trying to substitute many of my favorite Chicago (proper) activities with acceptable suburban versions. I know where I can get jerk chicken (25 minutes away) and found a great nail spa in town. One of the things that I was really concerned about was finding volunteer opportunities out here. While there’s a tendency to think that the suburbs are perfect, the truth is that many people out here need assistance as well. So, how could I help in my new neighborhood?

Well, the first sign that I received was the sight of a food drop-off bucket for the Self Help Closet & Food Pantry of Des Plaines in a grocery store across the street from our house. This is probably my favorite way to give back because I can just buy extra staples or canned goods on sale and place them in the container. I found out that the Food Pantry has regular volunteer opportunities so I hope to help out there one day.

Another opportunity that I’m really excited about is the Breakfast for Baby activity hosted by my local Salvation Army chapter. On the second Saturday of the month, families with little ones under a year old can come out for breakfast and the opportunity to “shop” for diapers and other baby supplies.

Between the above opportunities and the listings on the Hands On Suburban Chicago website, it makes me feel better to know where and how I can give back to my community. This isn’t to say that I won’t ever volunteer in Chicago (proper) again. I love my city too much to do that. Besides with my annual service challenge on the horizon, I need all of the service learning projects that I can find! More info on that to come. Until then…

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Image: Daily Herald

Nesting (Unplugged)

Bless_Our_Home

Does fall automatically trigger the urge to nest? I believe that I fell down the domestic rabbit hole on August 15th. We’ve been in our new place since May and I just haven’t been in the mood to be a homemaker. That was up until a few weeks ago. Now, I can’t seem to pull myself away from Pinterest for decorating tips. I make stews and desserts. Oh, and let’s not forget the Powerpoint slides that I created to help guide my interior design projects.

Is this normal? Maybe I’m finally starting to settle into my reality that I am a suburban wife now and my single city girl days are done. *pours glass of wine*

So, let’s talk about the projects that I’m really looking forward to completing over the next month.

1. Reupholster two ottomans that I purchased about seven years ago. The fabric is beige microsuede and I’m over it. I’ve been scouting Jo-Ann Fabric for some great swatches and have narrowed it down to four patterns. Hopefully, I can make a decision. #LibraProblems

2. Find the perfect turquoise accents for my living room. My color palette for the space is brown/orange/cream with turquoise mixed in. I will probably kickoff my search at Home Goods and Goodwill. Both stores have a great selection of knick-knacks.

Room Inspiration (Source: Pinterest.com)

Room Inspiration (Source: Pinterest.com)

3. Let Pinterest guide me to the perfect apple pie recipe. My husband wants pie but this city girl has never attempted such a dessert in her life.

4. Track down my Moulin Rouge poster and (finally) hang it in my kitchen. The movers left my framed poster on their truck and they finally found it. It is the ooh-la-la piece that my kitchen needs.

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5. Set up the home office. Currently, our office is filled with boxes of books, office supplies, bins of Red Pump materials and the couch from my old apartment. I’m thinking that we will need lots of storage and a big bookcase to help us get started. I’m in charge of organizing the room. My husband is responsible for furnishing it.

There are probably other things that I could add to this list, but I’m trying not to overwhelm myself with the pressures of domesticity. Up until Monday, I kept experiencing minor anxiety attacks while trying to find the perfect dining room table. Luckily, we were able to snag a beautiful Ethan Allen table (plus six chairs) for an incredible price from a couple preparing for a cross-country move. #Blessings

I wish I could say that I was going to do some before and after shots, but I’m not that evolved. I will promise to snap some pics on Instagram. Who knew that I had a domestic side? My mother is probably in heaven grinning from ear to ear. We’ll see how this goes!

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Laced Up and on the Move

I have been trying to become a true runner for yearssss. Last year, with my sister’s encouragement, I finally completed a 5K during the AIDS Run Walk. It was a sweaty, ugly completion, but at least I crossed the finish line. With my 2013 accomplishment in mind, I jumped at a couple of opportunities to get my reignite my interest in running while supporting two separate but worthy causes: fighting hunger and supporting children’s hospitals.

After completing my first 5K!

After completing my first 5K!

Today marks the beginning of the Miracle Marathon, a cool event to support my local Children’s Miracle Network hospital. Before you fall out of your seat, this is not a traditional marathon. Instead of running a bajillion miles at one time, everyone just commits to run one mile/day from September 16th to October 12th (my birthday!). If only all marathons could be so simple, right?! I’m looking forward to this running event because it is such a simple idea and will help keep me on track for the next item on my fall race agenda.

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That item would be Run 10 FEED 10 on October 19th in Chicago. I have a confession about this event. I signed up a couple of years ago but never ran it. *winces* So, I have to redeem myself and prove that I can complete a 10K, even if my legs and lungs turn against me. I’ve been doing training runs, but am nowhere near where I need to be. Thank God for my trusty dusty training plan. It is giving me the confidence that I need to prayerfully knock out these miles.

With all of this running, I have been on the prowl for a great pair of running shoes but I’ll save that for another post. In the meantime, I would love to hear any suggestions for becoming a better runner. Help!

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Domestic Violence Resources in Chicago

DomesticViolence

This week, the topic of domestic violence has been ALL over the media thanks to TMZ’s release of the video capturing Ray Rice attacking his wife, Janay. Much has been said about the NFL’s reaction, Janay’s statement on Instagram, and why Ray did what he did. I haven’t really joined these discussions and I probably won’t. However, a few things come through the conversations loud and clear. Domestic violence is incredibly personal, painfully real, and swept under the rug way too often. I didn’t need a video to tell me that though.

 Thankfully, there are many organizations that work very hard to help those dealing with domestic violence escape and recapture control of their lives. Below I’ve rounded up a list of resources here in Chicago. I pray that this list helps someone. Please share and consider giving back with your time and money to help these groups continue this work. For them and the women that they help, this isn’t just this week’s “water-cooler topic.” This is their life. Please show your support.

 

Organizations

Between Friends
P.O. Box 608548
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-5232
http://www.betweenfriendschicago.org/

Between Friends is dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and abuse by providing education, support, counseling and advocacy services to individuals and families affected by abuse.

 

Mujeras Latinas En Accion
2124 W. 21st Place
Chicago IL 60608
(773) 890-7676
http://www.mujereslatinasenaccion.org/

Mujeras Latinas en Accion provides domestic violence and abusive relationship counseling for women.

Family Rescue
9204 S. Commercial Avenue, Suite 401
Chicago, IL 60617
(773) 375-1918
http://www.familyrescueinc.org/

Family Rescue is dedicated to eliminating domestic violence by providing comprehensive support services and shelter to victims of domestic violence, particularly to abused women and their children.

House of the Good Shepherd
P.O. Box 13453
Chicago, IL 60613-0453
(773) 935-3434
http://hgschicago.org/

House of the Good Shepherd offers an intensive residential recovery program for women with children who are struggling to overcome the trauma of domestic violence.

Rainbow House
4149 W. 26th Street
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 521-1815
http://rainbow-house.org/

Rainbow House has two locations and offers intervention, counseling, and advocacy services for women and children affected by abuse.

Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC)
1116 N. Kedzie, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60651
(773) 489-9081
http://cawc.org/

CAWC provides a shelter for women and children, and counseling, advocacy, and a 24-hour hotline for those affected by domestic violence.

Hotlines

Chicago Domestic Violence Help (24 hours/day)
877-863-6338

The Domestic Violence Help Hotline provides referrals (counseling, shelters and legal services) to victims of domestic violence throughout Illinois. The Hotline is operated by The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.

Family Rescue (24 hours/day)
800-360-6619

Cook County Domestic Violence Hotline(24 hours/day)
800-603-4357

Legal Resources

Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse
555 W. Harrison, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 325-9155
http://www.dvlcchicago.org/

LifeSpan Center for Legal Services & Advocacy
70 E. Lake Street, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel: (312) 408-1210
http://life-span.org/

Life Span provides comprehensive services for women and children ranging from counseling and criminal court advocacy to legal representation in all types of family law cases.

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Photo: Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs

Do A Little Good with Your Tax Refund

This year, I’ve placed financial responsibility at the top of my priority list. As part of this plan, I signed up for LearnVest, a pretty cool site that helps you with everything from budgeting to investing to setting financial goals. With today being Tax Day (dun dun dunnnn), I thought that I would share tips from a LearnVest article about ways to do a little good with your tax refund.

Here are a few of the tips below:

  • Donate your dime. Consider donating all or a part of your check to a charitable cause that you’re passionate about.
  • Shop with a conscience. Update your wardrobe with some of my favorite social good brands like TOMS and Warby Parker.
  • Take a volunteer trip. I’ve always wanted to get a little voluntourism under my belt. Maybe next year… NOLA, perhaps?

You can read the rest of the list here.

I plan to donate a few of my dollars to charity, but the majority will be going to credit cards and wedding expenses. What are your plans for your tax refund (if you’re getting one)?

Adding a New (Furry) Member to My Family

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or starting to nest, but I’ve decided that I am going to adopt a dog. It’s something that I have been thinking about for a few years now, and I think that now is the time! I’m obsessed with pugs (proof) so my original plan was to buy an adorable pug puppy. But, after talking it over with a few friends, I realized that 1) Puppies are WAY too much work for me and 2) there are so many great shelter dogs that need homes in Chicago.

So, I’ve been doing my research at on the sites below and I even got a chance to experience life with a dog this past weekend. As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed my precious time dog-sitting Marley. My planned timeline has me finalizing an adoption in mid-October. Have any of you ever adopted a dog before? Do you have any tips to share with a soon-to-be dog mommy?

Chicago-Area Pet Shelters

PAWS Chicago – http://www.pawschicago.org/

Chicago Canine Rescue – http://www.chicagocaninerescue.com/

Animal Welfare League – http://www.animalwelfareleague.com/

Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago – http://www.anticruelty.org/

 

Do You Have a “Do Good Bucket List?”

Lately, I’ve been all about creating lists and mapping out my life. Things can get a little chaotic, and I like to make plans (even if I change them later or never get started on them). The other day, I was thinking of the various volunteer activities that I would like to do one of these days. So, that inspired me to create a “do gooder bucket list.” It may sound odd, but I think it’s a good idea! I’m still in the process of adding things, but here is where I’m at so far.

Before I kick the bucket, I hope to…

1. Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans

2. Volunteer at a Special Olympics competition

3. Complete the two-day Capital Challenge Walk for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

4. Make care packages for our troops

5. Read to a group of children at a local children’s hospital

6. Run in a charity race (10K or longer)

7. Sing carols at a nursing home or hospital

8. Spend a week at an AIDS orphanage volunteering with the children and learning from the medical staff

9. Serve as a volunteer baby rocker and feeder for infants in the NICU.

10. Host an amazing conference for teen caregivers.

Some of these things are probably going to happen before others, but at least it’s a start. What service project would you like to complete before you kick the bucket?

 

7 Charitable Gifts To Scoop This Weekend

While I know that many of you have already completed your holiday shopping, I know that many more of you probably haven’t even started. I planned to put up a gift guide with zillions of charitable items until I realized that many of you are going to just hit up your local mall or shopping center for these last minute items versus ordering online. So, I decided to just feature 7 cool gifts that you can pick up while out this weekend. No shipping anxiety here!

1. Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Limited Edition Products (Kiehl’s Stores) | 2. Tiny Grey TOMS Classics (Anywhere TOMS are sold) | 3. Belvedere Red (Your favorite spirits retailer) | 4. Heart of Haiti Metal Bowl (Macy’s) | 5.  Goofy Hooded Towel (Barney’s New York) | 6. Beats by Dre Red (Best Buy) | 7. MAC Viva Glam Holiday Set (MAC Counters + Stores)

Girls, Don’t Just Run the World…Change It

Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” is one of my favorite songs. I’m talking one of my “dance until I fall down” favorite songs. Between the empowering lyrics and hypnotizing beat, I feel like I can do any and everything thing that I put my mind to. And, I suppose that was the point of it all. But, yesterday, I got to thinking. What good is simply running the world? Why not do something to change it?

Tell 'em, Rosie!

While many of us look to volunteering and service as a means to make a difference, the truth is that philanthropy still has a price tag to it. With the economy shrinking and grants drying up, I’m proud to know that women are stepping up to the philanthropic plate and putting their dollars where their hearts are.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article, the author talked about how women are exerting a new influence in the world of philanthropy and that makes me excited. Women care. We care about our families, communities, causes, neighbors, and future until it almost hurts. So, why wouldn’t we bring our power and influence into the world of “do-gooding?”

From the article,

Welcome to the world of female philanthropy – it’s not your father’s United Way. “Women are taking ownership,” said Andrea Pactor, associate director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, which has found that female-headed households are more likely to give to charity than male-headed households; and that in nearly all income groups women give more than men.

Women are exerting a greater influence on how philanthropy is done as they accumulate wealth and use their clout to change the way funds are raised and distributed. Roughly 1 million women in the United States each have assets of at least $2 million, according to 2007 Internal Revenue Service data, the most recent available. Wealth controlled by charitably minded women can be expected to grow as they build careers and inherit money from their parents and their husbands.

Ladies, doesn’t that excite you? One of the things that I am obsessed with is creating a legacy and making an impact that will outlive me. No matter how you start, begin looking for causes to support financially. It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a difference. Whether it’s buying supplies for a back-to-school drive or making purchases from sustainable companies, there are an infinite amount of ways for you to make your dollars count.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Merle Chambers, creator of the Chambers Family Fund. She says,

“This work is so wonderful, and you always get so much more from it than you think you give. It’s always important to remind ourselves that we are doing something of tremendous value and worth in this world, and it’s all right to enjoy it as well.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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