Friday, June 29, 2012

Farewell, Lisa!

Today, we're saying farewell to our Program Director and good friend Lisa Wittig.  After 2 years as Volunteer, and 5 years as a staff member, Lisa is moving on from Amate House and onto new, exciting adventures!  The contributions and impact that she has made on our program are enormous - if you're reading this and are familiar with Amate House, you have no doubt interacted with, served with, worked with, or been supported by Lisa in some way, shape, or form.  We're going to miss her dedication, organization, creativity, and sense of humor.

As she moves on, our staff wishes Lisa nothing but the best, and we hope that she remembers that she will always be a part of the Amate House family!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Little Village Fun Day!

The following is a reflection written by Katy Kawauchi, one of this year's Little Village Volunteers.

Little Village celebrated our In-Service Day by having a scavenger hunt in Wicker Park! Planners, Nicole and Melissa created an individual clue for each member of the house and our House Coordinator. Each clue related to a destination that triggered a fond Little Village memory, or a personal favorite thing that we learned about the individual this year! There were 9 clue destinations in all, with an additional special “secret” mission that needed to be completed before heading to the next location.

Our first stop was Felipe’s clue, where we witnessed the beautiful architecture of a Polish Catholic church. We then headed to a coffee shop to fulfill Nicole’s daily caffeine addiction! Next up? Illinois' own native, Anna M.’s clue, brought us to Illinois’ own Oberweis Dairy, to grab her favorite dessert, ice cream! Our very own House Coordinator, Ali, revisited her days of teaching, by playing Lava Monster with us all at a local playground. After our game of Lava Monster, Earl’s love for man’s best friend found us all at a dog park where we got to play with some adorable new friends! We then did a hop, skip and a jump to a place called, “Double Door“ which related to Anna A.’s love of all things Harry Potter and also lead us to a mini scavenger hunt within a scavenger hunt in Wicker Park. With Melissa’s love for reading and books, we ventured over to a unique bookstore, full of books of all genres. Right across the street, Courtney was pleased that we ended up at a video shop called “Exchange,” that sold both used and new movies where she was able to showcase her knowledge on different films of her liking. Our final stop was of course my own clue, which lead us to…food of course! We ended our scavenger hunt at Thai Village, where no seconds or thirds were needed!

I wouldn’t have spent my Friday any other way, but with the rest of my community, as we soaked up the sun and reminisced on the year.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

North House Fun Day!

The following is reflection written by Kevin Franey, one of this year's North House Volunteers.

North House is certainly not one to shy away from new and exciting experiences, so when my housemate Colin proposed to me that we spend our in-service day at a place called Extreme Trampoline, I knew that not only would there be no opposition to it, North Housers would jump all over it (yes, pun intended).  Even better still, trampolining wasn't all we would have the time and resources for.  We have kept a bucket list all year, and while trampolining was not on the list, when we realized our budget left us a little extra wiggle room beyond the trampolines, we thought what better an opportunity to cross an item off of our bucket list than with an in-service?  Some things from our childhood will never die and a desire to eat birthday party food in a fort built out of bedsheets and shakily positioned poles will always be there.  So the agenda was set and we were pumped.

Extreme Trampolines is exactly what it sounds like.  Wall-to-wall trampolines, trampolines on the walls (so that we could literally be bouncing off the walls), trampolines leading into a foam pit, trampolines set up for dodgeball matches, this place had everything you could want for an afternoon of high-flying fun.  Ninety minutes of flips, spins, dodgeball, choreographed dance routines, relay races, and just plain jumping, left us with burning legs, sore backs, and full hearts.  A quick stop at a nearby park for a picnic and relaxing games gave us shady respite before heading back to North House and a fort which would have impressed Gaudi himself.  We followed the perfect physical activity with the perfect non-physical activity of pizza and pillows to complete our wonderful day.  It was an excellent day of light-hearted fun which brought us closer as a community and gave us a few memories which we will be able to cherish always as the North House Ninjas!

Monday, June 04, 2012

South House Fun Day!

The following is a reflection written by Chris Stefonowicz, one of this year's South House Volunteers.

As our Amate House experience comes to a close, many of us have struggled to remain focused and present within community.  Amidst the stress of trying to plan what we will be doing post-Amate we continue to work a 40-hour workweek, have numerous Amate House obligations and still attempt to maintain the relationships we have outside of Amate. Needless to say that within this juggling act, often times, we lose sight of why we are in Amate.  So, for our final in-service we took a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life to enjoy a bit of the beautiful Chicago scenery.

Our day began at 9:00 a.m. with a scrumptious breakfast prepared by two of our wonderful roommates.  We enjoyed the relaxed meal over some light-hearted conversation and once again, came to appreciate the community that we’ve formed over these past 9 months.  After breakfast we grabbed our bicycles and headed out into a nearly perfect spring day.  Our bike ride began through the busy city streets of Chicago’s south side, a territory that we at South House have come to know and love.  The scenery took a drastic change as we turned onto the bike paths that follow the gorgeous Lakeshore Drive.  Along the lakefront we stopped for pictures and water and walked along our first destination: Navy Pier.  After a brief rest on the pier we continued north to our second destination: North Avenue Beach. We spent a couple hours at the beach soaking up the sun, playing catch and going for a quick dip in the refreshing lake water.  A few of us were brave enough (stupid enough) to challenge the rays of the sun with SPF 0…the sun won and continues to win every time I move my shoulders.  Content with the tan (or burn) that we received, we hopped back on the bikes and headed to Portillo’s for a late lunch.  With Amate House picking up the tab, we treated ourselves to our first ever community dinner while dining out.  I chose the Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers and a side of fries, a must have if you ever dine at Portillo’s.  Bellies full and bodies burned, we decided to call it a day.  We biked back along Lakeshore Drive all the way down to the south side and cut directly across the south side of the city to our humble abode.  After a few hours of retreating to our rooms and entering various states of coma, the house once again joined together to grill out and enjoy one final community meal for the day.

South House could not have asked for a more perfect day at a more needed time.  The in-service truly helped our house re-focus on the communal aspects of living that had most recently fallen to the wayside.  By taking a break from our day-to-day realities and focusing only on the community in which we live, we re-discovered the beauty that arises from forming a loving, supportive and caring community.