May 232013

We recently brought our April Shoe Drive to close. Collecting shoes is one thing, but processing them all is quite another. That was our project for Wednesday this week. We had been stockpiling the bags of shoes as they were coming in throughout the drive. (The garage was full.) Early this morning, we packed bag after bag into the back of the pickup and began the journey to Share Your Soles. (The bags were stacked so high, I’m surprised we didn’t lose any along the way.)

At Share Your Soles we received a warm welcome as always and got to work processing our shoes. We unloaded them all and began the count and sort. Four hours of hard labor later, we’re happy to report that we collected 551 pairs of shoes bound for those in need across the globe. Great work to everyone who contributed to this effort. Thank you so much.

Working the Shoes at Share Your Soles

May 232013

Our son was born premature and spent six weeks in the hospital before coming home. Even though this was almost 10 years ago, I remember clearly the long days we spent there at the NICU. I would arrive as soon as the nursery opened first thing in the morning and would stay until the nurses kicked us out late into the night. We basically lived at the hospital for those six weeks. During that time I remember friends, family, and acquaintances who stopped by to offer support, love, and . . . food. Yes, food. It is amazing what a warm, home-cooked meal can mean when you have been eating hospital cafeteria food for days on end (or forgetting to eat all together). Food can be such a comfort in difficult times.

I think this is part of the reason that I have been enjoying going to the Ronald McDonald House these past couple months. This past Monday was our third time going and it just warms my heart to have the kitchen filled with yummy smells and tasty treats, and my hope is that the food offers the same comfort to the families staying at the House as it did for me so many years ago.

We spent a lovely afternoon on Monday with two other families baking all kinds of tasty goodness–cookies, brownies, and oatmeal chocolate chip bars. The sweet aroma of chocolate filled the kitchen, and we filled platters with the delicious treats for the 16 families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Oak Lawn. It was a good day.

Happy Kids with Sweet Treats in Hand

May 082013

The ActOut 2013 fair was significant success—even bigger and better than last year. Over the course of two days, we hosted three amazing speakers, about 75 students showcasing their service-learning-related work in one form or another, and over 30 local nonprofits with information tables informing the community about the good work they do and how others can get involved. We had posters, found and original works of art, video installations, and more all focused on the idea of action toward positive and lasting change in our communities and in our world.

As a service-learning event and academic project coming through several college courses, including a number of research composition courses, political science and international relations, and American history at Moraine Valley Community College, the event is getting more recognition and support from the College and the community. This is a good thing as it will help the annual event grow stronger each year.

Check out the photos we snapped during the event. If you missed this year’s ActOut event, we’ll be doing it again next year. In the mean time, get involved and act out!

May 072013

Last week, Act Out Now hosted ActOut 2013, its second annual service-learning and volunteer fair in cooperation with the Moraine Valley Community College Library. During the course of the two day event, we had three inspirational speakers. The awesome folks at the MVCC library (along with their tech crew) captured these brief lectures for those who couldn’t make the event to see them in person.

First up was Jodi Leiffring, Regional Volunteer Coordinator for the American Red Cross. Here she discusses disaster relief and the role of volunteers.

Later that day, we heard from Moraine Valley’s very own Tamarra Coleman-Hill who talked about her life as an activist and the role that activists play in society. This lecture reminds us all of the importance of developing advocacy skills.

Finally, during the second day of the ActOut event, we heard from community organizer Claudia Ayala about her work the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

To see more, check out the photo gallery from this year’s event.

May 072013

Come one, come all! Its that time of the year to lend a hand in cleaning a favorite local nature preserve—The Lucas Berg! Come on out from 9:00 to noon on Saturday, May 11, get a little dirty, have some fun and see the wildlife all while lending a hand (and some elbow grease) to beautify this local area of need. Refreshments and “ataboys” will be provided by the Life Safety Committee and Village of Worth leadership at high noon. Come out and lend a hand to keep this green space one of the most beautiful on the Southwest side.

The Lucas Berg is a site of some controversy, as the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been considering it as a repository site for contaminated dredge material from the Cal Sag project. The Life Safety Committee is working to promote its removal from the USACE’s list of placement property forever.

The Lucas Berg is a fragile ecosystem; flora and fauna have developed at Lucas Berg after 30 years of neglect by the USACE. The Lucas Berg hosts an abundance of fish and wildlife in a wetland that are currently not protected or recognized by the USACE, they will certainly be destroyed should the Life Safety Committee fail in its mission. To learn more about this project visit the Life Safety Committee. To lend a little help in the short-term, come on out for this clean up day on May 11. No RSVP required. Just come on out.