Volunteers score a goal for Chicago nonprofits
Wells Fargo and MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, teamed up to help six nonprofits in Chicago — host of the 2017 MLS All-Star Game.
Chicago’s duties as host of the 2017 Major League Soccer All-Star Game presented by Target are over, but the impact on the city still lingers after the Aug. 2 game.
Students definitely felt the impact as they returned from summer break at Theodore T. Herzl School of Excellence, one of 26 elementary schools in Chicago managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). There were 667 new “KidPacks” full of school supplies awaiting each student at Herzl, from preschoolers to eighth-graders, when they arrived Sept. 5 to start school — among 11,500 KidPacks AUSL received for all of its schools.
“The truck brought them, and they are here and all ready for my students,” said Principal Tamara Davis of the KidPacks. “School supplies help students come to school feeling like they’re ready and prepared. When you feel like you’re prepared, you feel better and are more confident, and when you’re more confident and feel better, you learn better.”
‘They know people are cheering them on’
Wells Fargo volunteers joined MLS legends like Brian Ching, MLS staff, Chicago Fire Soccer Club members, MLS WORKS Community MVP finalists representing each of the league’s 22 teams, and other volunteers in the city to help prepare 6,000 KidPacks for recipients across Chicago.
“I love to see their reactions when they get them,” Davis said. “You can tell they are so excited, and the personal notes inside from those who helped pack them are so encouraging and another way they know people are cheering them on. Our parents are extremely thankful for the KidPacks too, because they not only help financially, but they build a stronger bond between the school and home.”
Volunteers assembled and prepared the KidPacks at Cradles to Crayons — a nonprofit serving Chicago youth who are homeless or living in poverty — as part of a daylong community service event Aug. 2 before the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Soldier Field. Wells Fargo, the official bank of Major League Soccer, and MLS WORKS teamed up to plan the All-Star Day of Service.
“When we come into a market for an event like the All-Star Game, our goal is to improve the communities where we live and play our games,” said Major League Soccer Chief Administrative and Social Responsibility Officer JoAnn Neale. “The MLS WORKS All-Star Day of Service is a great example of how we collaborate with Wells Fargo to make a local impact, and is a culmination of all the charitable efforts taking place in the community throughout the week.”
In addition to the work at Cradles to Crayons, All-Star Day of Service volunteers:
- Cultivated and prepared After School Matters’ and Growing Power Inc.’s Roosevelt Square Youth Farm for the upcoming fall season.
- Landscaped and beautified the site of the By the Hand Club for KidsTM.
- Painted, created a reading nook, and worked on other projects at the Peace Corner Youth Center of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
- Repaired trail timbers, mulched, and completed other improvements at parks in the Chicago Park District.
- Painted a mural at Gary/Ortiz Elementary School.
A ‘unique and incredible opportunity’
Lindy Harris, an insurance analyst for Wells Fargo Rail — Wells Fargo’s rail car leasing business — spent her morning weeding and tilling the soil at Roosevelt Square Youth Farm, where high schoolers gave her a hands-on lesson in cultivation techniques and sustainability.
“The students took us on a guided tour of the farm, and we learned an incredible amount — from the cultivation of the food they grow, to which weeds are edible!” Harris said. “It was fun getting outdoors and getting our hands dirty and working alongside other Chicago volunteers and staff from Chicago Fire. What a unique and incredible opportunity to learn more about the work of some of Chicago’s nonprofits and the lives they’re changing.”
Marlil Razo, Manager of Corporate Giving for After School Matters — the nonprofit who manages the program for teens in partnership with Growing Power — welcomed the chance to host an All-Star Day of Service event.
“We were grateful for the opportunity,” Razo said. “Our teens worked alongside adults with various college and career backgrounds, allowing them to boost their team-building skills, network with industry professionals, and give back to their community in a meaningful way.”
‘Building better communities every day’
Maybelle Kim, a registered client associate with Wells Fargo Advisors, was glad she signed up to participate.
“I volunteered for the MLS WORKS All-Star Day of Service since it was a great way to give back to the community, as well as a chance for me to meet other Wells Fargo employees,” she said. “I’m grateful to work for a company that values the importance of helping our communities and giving us the time and opportunities to serve.”
Volunteer support was strong during the All-Star Day of Service, as it has been in previous years in other MLS All-Star game host cities, according to Andrew Ruehl, Wells Fargo’s Community Affairs representative for Chicago.
In 2016, he said, Wells Fargo team members volunteered more than 25,000 hours and the company invested more than $2.8 million in Illinois nonprofits, and it remains committed to helping Chicago and other cities build.
“Whether it’s providing essential items kids need to start school or beautifying our parks,” Ruehl said, “the All-Star Day of Service was another way we’re building better communities every day across Chicago.”