While Logan Square has been getting plenty of attention for its bustling restaurant and bar scene, there’s much more bustling around. Amidst all of the gentrification and development are non-profits and organizations that are continuing to help everyone in the community thrive. But they need your help—they need volunteers who are committed and passionate. If you’ve been looking for local organizations and ways to get involved close to home, read below for some dynamic volunteer opportunities in the Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale, and Hermosa neighborhoods.
Goethe Elementary School: Education
Background: Goethe Elementary School (2236 N. Rockwell St.) serves 726 students. Seventy-two percent of those students are Latinx and 65 percent come from economically disadvantaged households. Tutoring Chicago, a nonprofit organization partnered with Goethe Elementary School to create an invigorating tutor program.
According to Site Manager Carolina Estay, its “mission is to empower economically disadvantaged children through education.” It matches students with volunteers and they meet one-on-one once a week during the school year. Many students whom the organizations helps come from families who cannot afford private tutoring, so this program helps these students get tutored for free.
For the upcoming school year, there are already 230 families signed up for their program. Being able to find “local community-minded volunteers is crucial” for the sustainability of this program. Tutoring materials are provided to the volunteers such as on site Chromebooks.
If tutoring isn’t up your alley, there are other volunteer opportunities as well. Tutoring Chicago has a Guest Reader event and are looking for local authors who would be willing to share their work. They also have a one-time volunteer opportunity in December for the holiday season where help is needed with wrapping gifts and running their holiday party.
Estay said most of the families she works with are immigrants and some of them are English learners, so it is a challenge for them to help their kids with their homework.
“They want to offer their kids the best education and the possibility of a brighter future,” Estay said. “They always express to me the impact that this program is making on their children. Besides improving their grades, they have seen their children improving their social skills, their confidence and eagerness to learn. To me, it really takes a village to raise a child, and that is what this program is all about.”
What: Tutoring students once a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. There are also a few one-time events where volunteers are needed for the day.
Interested in volunteering? If you are interested in volunteering, you can apply on its website. After you fill out the application, you will need to attend an orientation session that provides a comprehensive overview of the program and what tutoring will be like with this organization. The Kickoff Week is scheduled the week of Sept. 24. For more information, contact Carolina Estay at 312-854-2990 or by email at [email protected].
Free Geek Chicago: Education
Background: Do you like fixing machines and trouble shooting? Well, Free Geek Chicago might be a perfect volunteer opportunity for you. Located in the northern part of Logan Square bordering Avondale, Free Geek Chicago (3411 W. Diversey Ave.) is a non-profit organization that recycles computers and other technology while providing free training, internet access, job skills and education to those who need it. Equipment is donated and volunteers help disassemble the items and test the different parts for recycling or refurbishing.
According to Evelyn Lopez, communications coordinator at Free Geek, there is a need for workforce development in Chicago. “We at FGC provide tools and hands-on practice so our participating population will be able to find employment in these areas and/or are able to supplement their education,” Lopez said.
She said the organizations has also noticed a need for retirees to develop new skills so they provide that assistance as well. Free Geek provides plenty of volunteer opportunities in the Logan Square area and is in need of volunteer teachers who are knowledgeable about open-source software and are willing to teach one of its recurring courses.
What: Free Geek is in need of volunteer teachers who are knowledgeable about software and computers. Its Volunteer Build Program is open Friday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Interested in volunteering? You must be at least 14 years or older (minors need a parental signature) to volunteer and be able to attend their volunteer orientation either on Fridays or Sundays at 11:15 a.m. Contact Evelyn Lopez at [email protected] if you are interested in finding out more.
Logan Square Neighborhood Association: Neighborhood Voting and Housing
Background: Social justice and diversity are cornerstones of a thriving democracy. The Logan Square Neighborhood Association (2840 N. Milwaukee Ave.) is a community-based organization serving all of the different demographics of Logan Square. They are focused on promoting diversity, leadership development and various forms of engagement for social justice. LSNA has a plethora of programs to promote this mission; they serve over 7000 adults and children in the community. Some of these programs focus on affordable housing, mental health and immigration.
“We are supporting a referendum for a mental health clinic in our community,” said Nancy Aardema, executive director of the LSNA, which LoganSquarist reported on earlier this year.
What: LSNA is looking for volunteers to help with voter registration, getting out the vote, and various housing issues (times/dates vary).
Interested in volunteering? If you are interested in helping out with voter outreach and affordable housing, contact Nancy Aardema at (773) 384-4370 ext. 19 or by email at [email protected].
La Casa Norte: Homelessness
Background: Are you passionate about ending homelessness? La Casa Norte is a community-based organization serving youth and families potentially experiencing homelessness. They also provide comprehensive services such as life skills, technology training, education support, and employment readiness. They have multiple locations throughout Chicago: Logan Square (1940 N. California Ave.), Humboldt Park (3543 W. North Ave.) and Back of the Yards (1736 W. 47th St.) for housing, drop-ins, and comprehensive services.
“We serve about 35,000 meals annually in Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Back of the Yards,” said Roberto Mendez, development associate for La Casa Norte. “These meals are served every single day and we are constantly seeking volunteers to help us in providing a warm meal to our youth.”
What: Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks but La Casa Norte is especially looking for chefs in their Feed Our Youth Program (times/hours vary). They also are looking for more Employment Specialists and Housing Specialists who assist in finding employment, housing, and training (times/hours vary). For a one-time volunteer opportunity, they have the Greater Chicago Food Depository Hunger Walk on Sept. 8 and at the end of the year, they have an annual Volunteer Holiday Wrapping Party where volunteers wrap presents for children in their housing programs.
Interested in volunteering? If you are interested in volunteering, email La Casa Norte at [email protected] or visit its website’s Get Involved page. They are also accepting students in need of community service hours, families with children, and groups as well as individuals.
The WasteShed: Arts and Crafts Education
Background: Are you passionate about the arts? Are you concerned about students and teachers having access to needed school supplies? The WasteShed is a community organization in Humboldt Park (2842 W. Chicago Ave.) that provides individuals with sustainable, affordable, and reliable arts, crafts and school materials. It is a creative reuse space where people can drop off donations and materials are repurposed for individuals in need at a low cost. They also host educational activities related to the arts, crafts and sustainability.
According to the Executive Director Eleanor Ray, The WasteShed is looking for “people with creative tendencies, organizational skills, or a deep knowledge of any and all art and craft media and techniques.”
What: Volunteers are needed to help out with their art materials thrift store by accepting and logging donated materials, sorting donations, pricing and merchandizing. Volunteer shifts are three hours long on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays from11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
McCormick YMCA: Multiple Types of Opportunities
Background: Do you like coaching sports and interacting with youth? The McCormick YMCA (1834 Lawndale Ave.) is a non-profit that serves the Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Hermosa communities. They support Chicago youth by bringing the community together and help children with mentoring, tutoring and coaching. They also provide assistance with computer skills and have multiple youth sports programs.
What: The McCormick YMCA is looking for one-time volunteers to help out with their events during Halloween and Christmas. They are also looking for steady volunteers to help out with coaching a sports team or serving at their membership desk.
Interested in volunteering? If you are interested in volunteering, you can fill out an application online. For more information, contact Membership Experience Director Erin Payton at 773-235-2525 or by email at [email protected].
Connections for Abused Women and Children: Domestic Violence
Connections for Abused Women and Children is a nonprofit in Humboldt Park (1116 N. Kedzie Ave.) that serves women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. CAWC provides shelter and other services to women and children such as counseling, advocacy, and a 24-hour hotline.
Volunteers are required to complete a 40-hour domestic violence training if they are directly serving victims of domestic violence. There are also volunteer opportunities for the Junior Board, which meets monthly and aims to increase CAWC’s exposure to the larger community. For more information, contact the Direct Service Volunteer & Education Coordinator at 773-489-9081 ext. 222. or email [email protected] for more information about the Junior Board.
Purple Asparagus: Sustainable Food Education
Purple Asparagus is a community organization in Avondale (2545 W. Diversey Ave.) that educates children, families and the larger community on healthy and sustainable eating. Its program Delicious Nutritious Adventures is a monthly event in the classroom that teaches children about healthy eating and is facilitated by trained staff and volunteers. It is looking for volunteer classroom instructors and assistants to help with designing programs for school children on sustainable eating. There are also more sporadic volunteer opportunities for community programs at farmers markets. Volunteer opportunities outside of the classroom are also abundant since they are looking for help with grant writing, videography, marketing, and office administration. If you are interested, you can sign up to volunteer on their website.
Whipple Community Garden: Gardening and Sustainability
The Whipple Community Garden (2056 N. Whipple St.) is a NeighborSpace Garden near Palmer Square. The garden is community-run and managed while working in partnership with NeighborSpace, which makes connections with communities and coordinates large, one-day volunteer events. The Whipple Community Garden, in particular, grows perennials and vegetables and is always in need of volunteers to help pick up trash, weed, cut overgrown bushes and clean the pathway. If you are interested in helping, email [email protected].