Presbytery of Chicago
YAVs in Chicago have a unique opportunity to have their faith transform and be transformed by many of the current hot topics of the day. Working alongside non-profit agencies that are working in the areas of education, poverty elimination, and food security, YAVs have a chance to learn about the importance of advocating for structural change as well as responding to immediate needs. While learning through the work experience, YAVs are encouraged to live intentionally by engaging in the YAV community, a faith community, and learning to know their neighbors.
Graceseeds: A Presbyterian ministry that works with church gardens to provide food pantry fresh vegetables. In the off season, Graceseeds teaches various hunger awareness programs. Volunteers work in both areas and often help with the social media for the organization.
Westside Christian School: The motto of the school is "equips youth to lead and serve as Christians so they can make a difference in the world". Volunteers work as teacher assistants and in the after school programs.
Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development (BUILD): A program that prevents gang interaction through working in schools and providing after school and sports programs. Volunteers work with elementary, junior high, or high school students in the different levels of programming as teacher assistants. Volunteers can be asked to take more responsibility based on skill levels.
Sarah's Inn: A domestic violence prevention program that works with emergency shelters and in schools has several positions that are available to volunteers. 1) Volunteer coordinator: Working with others on staff to provide volunteers for in school workshops and the domestic abuse hotline. 2) School trainer: Working in schools with 7th and 8th graders with the prevention team to teach ways to prevent sexual harassment and domestic abuse.
Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly: A national network of non-profit volunteer-based organizations committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. Volunteers are matched with elders without family and provide services such as rides to appointments, hobby outings, and other creative ways to create community for elders.
Heartland Alliance: Advances human rights and responds to the human needs of endangered populations—particularly the poor, the isolated, and the displaced—through the provision of comprehensive and respectful services and the promotion of permanent solutions leading to a more just global society. Volunteers work in the investment program for Heartland. Working with low income families to understand the importance of saving and investing in many forms.
Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry: Works to eliminate hunger and bring awareness to the many social concerns that hunger effects. Volunteers have opportunities to work with clients, develop relationships with local churches to further education about hunger, and the ability to learn more about the food systems that resource the city.
Fair Trade Chicago: Works with Chicago businesses and non-profits to continue to work for fair trade options throughout the economic systems. Volunteers have opportunities to work within high schools to bring awareness of the importance of living wage and fair trade marketing.
Volunteers live in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago in Faith House, a two unit apartment building that can house eight volunteers and is owned by First Church of the Brethren.
A short video tour provided by a 2013-14 YAV, Megan.
Intentional Community Aspects
We ask that YAVs live in Faith House not just as roommates but as a group that is committed to each other and the neighborhood. We ask for committed intentional living that includes simple living. The group will write a covenant in the first month of living together and will work with the covenant throughout the time they are here.
Volunteers will meet weekly on “Community Days” to reflect on their placements, learn about the social concerns of the day, and grow in faith and understanding of vocational call. The group will read 6-8 books together, meeting with authors and experts when feasible.
Each week, volunteers will work with Melody Elementary School together to help homeless students receive federally mandated services. This work allows volunteers to build relationships with families in the community and learn community organizing skills.
Willingness to learn: Much of the Dwell year is spent learning a new place, new people, and new work. Dwellers will be well served if they desire to learn.
Willingness to cross cultural boundaries: Chicago's people are diverse! Dwellers should be ready to engage in cross cultural faith development, friendships, and understandings.
Willingness to be stretched: Living within intentional community, in a new city, and in a setting where reflection is encouraged can be stretching and rewarding.
Juan Pablo Herrera