Monday, November 28, 2011

The Changing Faces of Chicago

The following is a reflection written by Lindsay Williams, one of this year's North House Volunteers.

This year I am working as an Oral Health Educator at a community health clinic, and a large part of my job is to give dental health presentations at schools and community centers around the city.  As a result I have been ping-ponging all over Chicago to present to parenting groups and schools in diverse neighborhoods.  Driving the alleged “grid system” of Chicago without a GPS has been a (slightly stressful) crash course in orienting myself in this city that seems to morph and expand exponentially each day,  but this has been one of the aspects of the year that I feel most blessed to have.  Because I spend hours and hours each week navigating the streets from my scribbled Google Maps directions I have had an opportunity to observe some of the most interesting, and most challenged, areas of the city.

People in Chicago really identify by their neighborhoods, and each and every neighborhood has its own unique taste.  One thing I have noticed as I drive around is the abrupt and significant shifts that occur in neighborhoods in just a few blocks.  These shifts can be seen clearly in the types of stores, restaurants, language, and populations of neighborhoods.  I can drive down one street for a few miles and feel like I have passed through ten different towns.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

The following is a letter that Little Village House Volunteer Melissa Carnall sent to friends and family in this season of Thanksgiving.

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope this letter finds you enjoying some crisp near-winter weather!  Will you grab a cup of tea or coffee and join me as I share a bit about what I’m up to here in the windy city of Chicago?

As you probably know, when summer drew to a close and my days of post-grad relaxation and snuggling with my precious nephew dwindled in number, I set out on an adventure to a city that I knew nothing about…Literally, I had to look up what Great Lake Chicago bordered (Lake Michigan) and I didn’t even know that the Sears (well, Willis) Tower is in Chicago. But I packed my bags and flew north to this city I’d never been… and Chicago quickly won my heart! Some naysayers like to tell me I might change my mind come winter though. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

But something that has won my heart even more than Chicago is Amate House itself. Amate House is the Catholic young adult volunteer program that I currently have the blessing to be a part.  Amate House is actually three houses throughout the Chicago area. I live in the one in a predominantly Mexican immigrant neighborhood called Little Village or La Villita. Here in Little Village, I live in community with 8 other volunteers. We like to say that you can’t spell ‘love’ without LV.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Amate Thanksgiving 2011!

What a special occasion Amate Thanksgiving was this year! For those of you who are unfamiliar with our Thanksgiving tradition, we invite Alumni, Board members, parents of Volunteers, and other friends to join us for a weekend of football, a special liturgy, and (of course) a big traditional meal. It's always a wonderful time. This year, we had the added joy of dedicating our new Little Village house!

Look below for some of the weekend's highlights!

Team Alumni gets ready for action

Team Volunteers huddles up pre-game

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Fall Retreat Recap!

Courtney Hardebeck, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers, created a video of some of the highlights from our recent Fall Retreat weekend in Watervliet, Michigan. We hope that you enjoy it!