Evanston Day of Caring: Volunteers Uniting for Change

A gray sky and monsoon like conditions didn’t break the spirits of the 68 volunteers who were ready to take part in United Way of Metro Chicago’s Evanston Day of Caring.

Evanston Day of Caring is a volunteer based community event designed to further United Ways support of Evanston, a community that is part of United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative. Joe Higgins, Executive Director of External Affairs at Comcast and Board Chair for United Way of Metro Chicago’s North-Northwest division, says the Day of Caring helps to bring residents closer to their community.  “I believe investing in our communities is our civic duty.”  Higgins said. “It infuses pride and productivity to residents and is a great way to give back.”

The morning kicked off with a breakfast rally at Wild Café located at Northwestern University’s Ryan Field.  Mayor of Evanston Steven Hagerty was on hand rallying the participants before the festivities kicked off.  “Having a day where people can come together and learn about the different opportunities the city has to offer for giving and to support people in need is fantastic,” said Hagerty.  “I hope at the end of the day people will want to get more involved in our community.”

At the Evanston YWCA, which also serves as a woman’s shelter, volunteers were working on a wide range of projects from weeding and mulching to prepping the shelter for winter.  Brian Cataldo, Relationship Manager at United Way of Metro Chicago, was out in the torrential rain transporting a wheel barrel filled with mulch.  “This site is where the diehard volunteers are,” Cataldo joked as he continued to work in the down pour.

With the change in seasons, many of the area shelters are prepping for colder weather including Hilda’s Place, a homeless shelter located in the basement of Lake Street Church.  The shelter, run by our partner agency “Connections for the Homeless,” serves about 1,000 people per year, according to Lisa Todd, the organizations Community Outreach Manager.  “As the weather turns, people will come to our drop in program looking for winter clothing, and we’ll have plenty of clothes to warm them up.” 


On the other side of town at Orrington Plaza, volunteers working with our agency partner PEER Services were 

preparing for a charity stair climb. Jenny Phan, Development Director at PEER Services, explains the climb will raise funds to treat low income teens and adults who are struggling with addiction. “I look forward to this event because it’s a way to celebrate people who are on a journey to recovery,” says Phan.  “Much like we celebrate people who beat cancer or other serious diseases, addiction, the biggest health problem currently facing the country, should also be recognized.”


This was United Way of Metro Chicago’s 4th Annual Evanston Day of Caring.  There were six project sites spread throughout the community and five agencies that participated. The Evanston YWCA, PEER Services, and Connections for the Homeless are all partner agencies of United Way’s Evanston Neighborhood Network Lead Agency Cradle to Career.



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