Inside WITS: Where The WITS Staff Volunteers

By: Elizabeth Kristoff, Grants and Foundations Relations Manager

Organizations that WITS' staff enjoys volunteering with.

In honor of April’s National Volunteer Month, we asked WITS staff about how they volunteer in their own communities, and what made their favorite volunteer experience a rewarding one.

“One unique way I enjoy volunteering is through a non-profit organization called Funny Bones Improv! Through Funny Bones, we get to perform short form comedy improv games for kids staying in childrens’ hospitals and their families. It is such a joy to be able to help provide these incredibly strong and inspiring kids a fun break from receiving treatment to just laugh and be silly!”
– Shawn Bush, Program Coordinator

“One of my favorite volunteer opportunities is with The TakeBack Chicago. It is a day of play for children on the south side of the city. The entire community comes out to have fun, food is served and children are provided school supplies for the year. The TakeBack team are also very committed to making a positive impact for these families and helping end the stigma of violence on the south side.”
– Nicholas Colbert, Program Coordinator

“I like to volunteer with City Year at their Civic Engagement community events. These events are large-scale days of service that involve beautifying and enhancing schools to be engaging places for learning. Oftentimes, projects involve painting, construction, or gardening, which are some of my favorite activities. The Civic Engagement team at City Year does a great job keeping the event organized and positive. I served as an Americorps Member on City Year’s Civic Engagement Team over the 2013-14 school year. While I have a bit of a soft spot for their events, I do think their work is a great volunteer opportunity for anyone interested in getting their hands dirty while improving schools for students.”
– Eric Coleman, Communications Manager

“A great memory I have volunteering is from the summer when I was going into 5th grade. A classmate organized a drive for people affected by Hurricane Katrina, which had recently struck. My classmates and I raised money to put together health kits to send down to New Orleans through a relief organization. I remember how we were able to make close to 100 of these kits, which were filled with things like soap, wash cloths, toothbrushes, etc. I believe this was my first experience volunteering. It made me feel empowered to know I could help out with a disaster that people were experiencing so far away.”
– Eleanor Dollear, Program Coordinator

“In the past, I served as a volunteer for The Center on Halsted. The Center on Halsted is a community center for LGBT individuals with programs that range from volleyball, dance performances, and cooking classes to rapid HIV testing, group therapy and vocational training. My favorite volunteer experience was helping fundraise at their annual Gala where we raised $81,000. It was a great opportunity for me to support a community that I relate to. It is also fun to dress up and look dapper at the event.”
– Kevin Hujar, Program Specialist

“I am an 826-er for life! If you’re unfamiliar with those three phenomenal numbers, the 826 network consists of seven writing and tutoring centers across the country. 10 years ago, I interned at 826CHI, then stayed on as a volunteer for four years. When I moved to Ann Arbor for grad school, I did a year-long field placement at 826michigan. Both organizations continue to have a massive impact on me. 826CHI was my launching pad into the nonprofit field, and without it, I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. When I was ready to take my career to the next level, 826michigan was there for me, and I attribute much of my professional identity to my former boss (hi, Amanda!). If you, dear blog reader, are interested in learning more, you can visit”
– Annie Kennedy, Community Manager

“For the past 3 years, my best friend and I have volunteered at the ALS Association’s annual fundraiser, the Iron Horse Ball. It’s a privilege to help raise money and awareness to combat this truly terrible disease, and also feels good to give back to the ALSA volunteers and staff who supported my friend through her mom’s prognosis. It can be a tough event, but I’m always inspired by the amount of courage, strength, and love in the room, and leave feeling motivated to continue supporting the ALS community.”
– Elizabeth Kristoff, Grants and Foundation Relations Manager

“I volunteer with Montrose Metra Community Gardens and the Albany Park Community Center Associate Board. Working in the community garden is a great way to get outside, and I’m always learning something new: about pests, weeds, different vegetables, bees, you name it. On the Albany Park Community Center Associates Board I get to see a nonprofit from a different vantage point and share the center’s great work with friends. At both, I enjoy the social aspect of volunteering.”
– Ellen Werner, Program Director