It’s National Volutneer Appreciation Week, and Urban Initiatives wants to give thanks to all of our amazing volunteers that help make our programs such a smashing success in all corners of Chicago! In honor of this special week, we give you this special blog post that was kindly written by Bob Luchsinger, an active Junior Board Member and committed volunteer coach at Jenner Academy in Cabrini Green. The soccer kids at Jenner love Coach Bob, and so do we!
Since joining Urban Initiatives as a volunteer in January 2012, my experience with the program has been overwhelmingly positive. As a recent transplant to Chicago in late 2011, my work with Urban Initiatives has provided a tremendous opportunity for me to get involved in the local community, meet new people and begin to understand many of the issues that confront the youth of Chicago.
I have been very fortunate to work with the Jenner Academy in Cabrini-Green for the past four months. As a resident of Old Town, working with students from the same neighborhood has been at times challenging, always interesting and unquestionably rewarding. Even in four short months, the success of the program and its impact on the students is tangible and undeniable. The beauty of the Work to Play Program is that it provides students with the resources to gain confidence, learn about the importance of a health and education, while growing as teammates and leaders – all taught through the discipline and structure of "The Beautiful Game." Furthermore, as the students ability to participate in the program is dependent upon a strong academic performance in the classroom, the benefits of the program stretch well beyond the 4 -5 hours per week spent on the pitch.
My advice to anyone considering working with Urban Initiatives would be to 100%, absolutley, without a doubt, GET INVOLVED. Aside from the aforementioned benefits, working with Urban Initiatives is a lot of fun. Volunteering with Urban Initiatives has been one of the defining experiences of my time in Chicago and I plan on working with the program for a long time to come.