Not to say that I don’t work hard for it, but I am privileged and very aware of that. And as someone who is raising a child, I think it’s my responsibility to make her aware of her privilege and provide opportunities for her to learn from those around us. For me, a lot of that comes from volunteering.
Volunteering is something I’ve made part of my life in all kinds of ways. But this post is about sharing something we’re doing with Zelda that I feel is extremely important.
If you’ve followed me for a while you know I live for an extravagant, lavish and over-the-top birthday party for Zelda every year. Some people frown upon those kinds of things, but I really enjoy doing it and I think Zelda does, too. And although the parties are mainly about having fun and including everyone in our life, we’ve also incorporated a meaningful tradition.
Every year, during the week of Zelda’s birthday, we do some kind of volunteer work. I really try to make it something that Zelda can be directly involved in and that she understands. For example, last year we went shopping for toys for kids at Lurie Hospital. Although it’s her birthday and it’s a celebration of her, we’re also teaching her the importance of giving back and being involved in her community. Which I think is cool!
This year, we volunteered for The Youth of Englewood. If you haven’t heard of LaTanya, the woman who runs this organization, or the organization itself and you’re from Chicago, you’ve got to get involved. She is doing incredible things and truly making a change in our community. Latanya provides some much-needed light in areas of the city that can sometimes be riddled with violence and a lack of opportunity. Needless to say, she is an amazing, amazing woman that is going above and beyond.
I’ve been following the Youth of Englewood for a while and knew I wanted to do something to give back. The opportunity kind of came about when, oddly enough, a PR agency sent out some confidential information that shouldn’t have been released. And to make amends, I asked the agency to please make a donation to the Youth of Englewood. They ended up giving us a $2500 gift card that we used to go shopping for supplies that the organization needs for the summer.
As you can see in the photos (or on my recent Instagram Stories), Zelda and I had such a fun time doing this together. We literally had carts full of stuff – and to see the physical products kids will get was just rad. It just feels so good to know you’re instilling these kinds of values in your child. Plus, I love spending time with her in this capacity and explaining what we’re doing and why it’s important. I can kinda see her wheels turning and it’s touching to see how into it she gets.
We were able to donate 54 backpacks filled with school supplies for the kids at the youth center and a ton of sporting goods along with a $500 gift card so they can get whatever else they need. We also donated eight desktop computers that survived the flood at eDrop-off. Seeing all the smiles and excitement when we went to go hook them up was something I will never forget. It’s amazing how much change and impact you can provide with just a couple hours of volunteering and donating things you no longer need.
I feel so blessed to be able to give these experiences to Zelda and to be partnering with amazing businesses like COUNTRY Financial who also have these same values. Their grant program has given millions of dollars in support of local organizations helping families to build their financial health and plan for their future.
These are memories we will carry forever and it’s an annual tradition that I truly look forward to. I hope this is something we can continue to do for the rest of our days, and I can’t encourage you enough to get out there, get involved and start volunteering. If you are in Chicago and want to help out The Youth of Englewood they would LOVE to hear from you. Simply email LaTanya at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to COUNTRY Financial for sponsoring this post. It’s partners like this that make documenting our journey possible.