April is National Volunteer Month. So it seems like a perfect time to introduce myself.
I’m Fidel Williams and I am the Community Engagement and Volunteer Services Manager for Renaissance Social Services, Inc. I’m also a three-term AmeriCorps Alumni, where I’ve completed over 4200 hours of volunteer service to communities all over Chicago.
"Thank you. No one has ever told me that before."
These were the words of a 3rd grader I tutored after I told him that he was smart. His words to this day are the reason I continue to volunteer for various causes. To me, I couldn’t understand why a child wasn’t told daily that he was smart. I had to quickly accept that, for this child, it was my responsibility to tell him all that was great about him. I was his cheerleader. More than that, I realized that I was safety for not just him, but all of the students I worked with. Our school was located on the campus of a public housing complex most would describe as dangerous. I was happy that as long as the students were with me, in either a tutoring session or my after school program, they were safe. And for me, that was empowering.
Through my years of service to that school and that child I recognized that not only is volunteering a very selfless thing, it’s the rent we pay to live on earth…and honestly, it makes you feel good.
Part of my role here at Renaissance is to create and manage our volunteer program, where volunteers can experience the same empowerment I felt as a volunteer. I’m happy to say that we are up and running and are excited to extend an opportunity for you to volunteer with us.
Lead group movie discussions with program participants.
Play BINGO, our participants’ favorite game.
Support participants’ vegetable garden
Accompany groups as they engage in events around the city, like museums and neighborhood fairs
Facilitate empowerment conversations
More than that, Renaissance volunteers are rebuilding hope in our participants. Often times, formerly homeless individuals are stigmatized and blamed for their situation, usually with no one taking time to see the humanity in them. Volunteering with Renaissance shows our participants that there are people who are interested in them, who care about them, and who want to see them flourish in community.
Signing up to volunteer is easy and convenient.
1. Submit your volunteer application: http://tiny.cc/RenVolunteer
2. Attend a volunteer orientation
3. Complete a background check.
I hope you will consider volunteering with us. I look forward to meeting you!