Meet Mignely Nunez, our enthusiastic new Development Coordinator VISTA from Kentland, IN! Mignely's deep appreciation for the educators who guided her throughout her academic journey has fueled her desire to pay it forward at HOPES. She is dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing space for young learners, drawing inspiration from the supportive environments she experienced herself. Mignely is particularly excited to witness the creativity of HOPES students as they engage in various activities, eager to learn from their hard work and be inspired by their vibrant spirits. For Mignely, volunteering is a two-way street, a chance to share her experiences while gaining valuable insights into the lives of those she serves. In her free time, she indulges in her passion for art and art history, exploring contemporary art at local museums and enjoying various forms of artistic expression, from music to fashion and dancing. We're thrilled to welcome Mignely to the HOPES team and look forward to the positive impact she'll undoubtedly make in our community!
Meet Valentina Pulla-Corella, our new Outreach and Social Media VISTA hailing from Quito, Ecuador! Valentina was drawn to Chicago HOPES for Kids by the organization's unwavering commitment to providing educational support and resources to students experiencing homelessness, aligning seamlessly with her passion for making a positive impact in the community. As she embarks on her journey with HOPES, Valentina is most excited about directly contributing to the academic and personal growth of the children the organization supports, knowing that her work will make a meaningful difference in their lives. During her term, she looks forward to collaborating with the HOPES team and witnessing the impact they can achieve together. For Valentina, being a volunteer, means selflessly giving her time and skills to support causes and organizations she is passionate about, without expecting anything in return—a source of fulfillment and purpose that she finds truly invaluable. In her free time, Valentina enjoys a diverse range of hobbies, from baking delicious treats to indulging in graphic design, watching both Marvel and suspenseful "Sinner" movies, and diving into a good book for some quality reading. We are thrilled to have Valentina on board, and her diverse interests and commitment will undoubtedly contribute to the positive atmosphere at Chicago HOPES for Kids!
Becca is a Chicago native and has recently joined the Chicago HOPES for Kids team as another one of our newest AmeriCorps members! Becca became interested in this role because of the opportunities to provide our students with a fun and safe learning environment to grow in. She is most excited about being able to work with children in the community and make meaningful connections with them. As a psychology student, Becca finds meaning in creating safe spaces and opportunities for everyone. Volunteering is a great way to contribute to creating these spaces for people. Fun Fact about Becca: She likes to play tennis! We are so excited to welcome Becca to the team!
Lashawn is another Chicago native joining the HOPES team as an AmeriCorps member! She decided to join HOPES because of her interest in empowering children in her community and providing them with opportunities for personal and academic growth. Lashawn is most excited to gain knowledge through day-to-day interactions with our students. To Lashawn, being a volunteer means making a positive impact in the lives of others. In her free time, Lawshawn loves to cook and travel. She enjoys learning about different cultures and their traditions. She also loves to spend time with her nieces and nephews. Fun Fact about Lashawn: She has a twin sister! Welcome to the HOPES team, Lashawn – we’re so excited to have you!
Luis has joined the Chicago HOPES for Kids team as another new AmeriCorps member all the way from Milwaukee, WI! He became interested in this role because our organization makes it easy for volunteers to make a meaningful impact due to the structure of our Ready Readers & Literacy Leaders programs. Given the opportunity to work with students 1:1, Luis is most excited about seeing how quickly they make progress in their reading and writing skills. To Luis, being a volunteer at HOPES means making a positive impact in the lives of our students, both academically and socially. Fun Fact about Luis: He enjoys reading and working out. We are so excited to welcome Luis to the team!
Fall programming has officially launched this month, and we were thrilled to welcome our students back, both new and returning! Everyone here at HOPES is excited to engage our kiddos with fun learning all semester long. We autumn take a moment to thank all of our incredible community volunteers who make our work possible! We appreciate all that you do to implement the HOPES mission every day that you serve. It is only with your support, dedication and generosity that we are able to continue to provide resources to our students and their families. Behind each day of program, community event or field trip, there is a group of spook-tacular volunteers! Volunteers like you make such a lasting, positive impact, and the Chicago HOPES for Kids team could not be more grateful. We thank each of you for making a tangible difference in the lives of those we serve! We look forward to many more amazing semesters here at HOPES with you all.
Ready to make a difference? Sign up for any one of our upcoming information sessions to learn more about all of the amazing ways you can give back to your community!
Interested in returning to volunteer with us? Check out our project catalog through our Volunteer Matters website. From there, you can sign up for any of our current volunteer opportunities!
2023-2024 After School Corps Member
Autumn is here, which means school is back in session! With that said, we’re feeling
gourd about kicking off Fall Programming next month! Just a few weeks ago, we
welcomed our Fall 2023 AmeriCorps Cohort and they are so excited to help Chicago
HOPES for Kids provide another successful semester full of fun learning! Read on to
learn more about our incredible cohort:
Faith Benson grew up in Lake Zurich, but has been living in the city since 2021. Faith
joined HOPES as a State & National AmeriCorps member because of her interest in
our mission! The values we hold as an organization and our commitment to our
students and families aligned with Faith’s, so she knew she wanted to become part
of the HOPES team. She is most excited about the opportunity to make a positive
impact in our students’ lives. Faith is also excited to become more familiar with the
communities we serve in and to give back. Being a volunteer means giving of
yourself to people who need help; working towards a cause you believe in! In her free
time, Faith enjoys being outdoors and going to the gym. Fun Fact about Faith: She
can drive stick-shift! We are so happy to have Faith on the Chicago HOPES for Kids
Erica Vargas is a Chicago native, joining the Chicago HOPES for Kids team as a State
& National AmeriCorps member! Erica credits our mission and staff for joining us this
semester. During her service, she is most excited about the opportunity to get to
know our students better and bond with them. To Erica, being a volunteer means
making a positive, lasting impact on society. Fun Fact about Erica: She owns a dog
named Elsa! We are so excited to have Erica on the HOPES team!
Serving with Chicago HOPES for Kids through AmeriCorps is a great opportunity to
engage in direct service at any one of our partner sites! AmeriCorps Members are
part of a designated team, where they will directly support our students through one
of our after-school programs centered on academic support and enrichment.
Interested in this experience? Please follow the link below to learn more about our
opening and apply today!
2023-2024 After School Corps Member
We can’t be-leaf autumn is just around the corner! We are so grateful to have had such a wonderful summer semester. As we begin planning for our upcoming fall semester, we wanted to take a moment to thank all of our community volunteers who have joined the HOPES team! We appreciate all that you do to implement the HOPES mission every day that you serve. It is with your support, time and generosity that we are able to continue to provide resources to our students and their families. Behind every day of program, outreach event or field trip, there is a group of extraordinary volunteers! Volunteers like you make such a positive impact, and the HOPES team is forever grateful. We thank you for making a tangible difference in the lives of those we serve. We look forward to many more amazing semesters here at HOPES with you all!
Interested in becoming a volunteer yourself? Sign up for our upcoming information session on Tuesday, September 5th to learn more about all of the amazing ways you can give back to your community.
Interested in returning to volunteer with us? Check out our project catalog through our Volunteer Matters website. From there, you can sign up for any of our current volunteer opportunities!
“Each one of us can make a difference. Together, we make a change.” – Barbara Mikulski
Summer programming is fully up and running here at HOPES, and we are thrilled to welcome new AmeriCorps members who have joined our 2023 Summer AmeriCorps Cohort. They are excited about providing a semester full of fun learning under the sun! Read on to learn more about our newest additions to the HOPES team:
Dafne is a Chicago native and her interest in empowering the community inspired her to join HOPES. She is passionate about building trust with and supporting the students we serve. This Summer, she is most excited about the opportunity to meet new people and learn how to be more social with the awesome team we have here at HOPES! To Dafne, being a volunteer means using her knowledge to support and help the community. It also means using her free time to make a difference, even if it’s only within one interaction. In her free time, Dafne enjoys doing pottery work! We are so excited to have Dafne on our team!
Shaw joined Chicago HOPES for Kids all the way from Nashville, TN. Shaw first became interested in serving with HOPES because they want to empower students and their families. During their time here, Shaw is interested in learning how an organization like HOPES makes an impact in its own community. Shaw is most excited about gaining hands-on experience in education and community engagement, deepening their understanding of the relationship between community and education. To Shaw, being a volunteer means contributing their time and effort to the thriving of a community so that everyone can empower themselves to reach their full potential. It also means learning from the community they work with and growing to be a more compassionate citizen and member of the community. In Shaw’s free time, they enjoy listening to musical theater soundtracks and singing along! We are so excited to have Shaw on our team!
Samishti, originally from Scotland and currently a student in Chicago, joined the HOPES team because of her interest in supporting our mission to provide kids in Chicago’s underserved areas with academic support. During her service term, she is most excited about the opportunity to contribute to make one future a little bit better. To Samishti, empathy and compassion for the people she’s helping is what makes a good volunteer. In her free time, Samishti loves reading! She is currently reading The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. We are so excited to have Samishti on our team!
Skyler is a Chicago native and joined the Chicago HOPES for Kids team because of her past experience working with kids at college. She is most excited about getting the chance to engage our students with the fun, educational activities we have planned for our programs. To Skyler, being a volunteer means helping others who don’t receive help as often. In her free time, Skyler enjoys writing poetry! We are so excited to have Skyler on our team!
Nisha is a Chicago native and wanted to join the HOPES team because of her interest in using her time and resources towards a purpose and getting more involved with her community. Nisha is most excited to get to know everyone on the team and to see how a nonprofit organization like Chicago HOPES for Kids operates to create lasting change within the communities we serve! To Nisha, a volunteer is someone that wants to donate their time and their resources for a cause that is greater than themselves. In Nisha’s free time, she loves to knit, sew, and see live music. We are so excited to have Nisha on our team!
Carrie Jackson, Chicago HOPES for Kids Volunteer of the Year!
Carrie learned about HOPES while looking for a tutoring opportunity, and our mission struck her as so much more impactful. When she initially started volunteering, she was aware of some of the issues surrounding homelessness but didn’t have a full understanding of the systemic failure or what resources were available. Spending time with our kids and their families has truly opened Carrie’s eyes and is something small but tangible she can do to help.
To Carrie, being a volunteer feels more meaningful than just donating money because she’s able to actually spend time and energy helping out. She can put names and faces to stories and statistics and holds herself accountable to showing up for the kids and staff every week. She loves the variety of projects and different ways of engaging the whole group, and she always walks away having learned something new.
Carrie has remained committed to volunteering with HOPES because her motivation for doing so lies within seeing our students grow each week. As a volunteer, she sees how her presence positively impacts our students. She sees their resilience and tenacity in spite of the challenges they are facing, and also sees them laugh and get to be regular kids. Spending time in a shelter so close to where she lives keeps her grounded and inspires her to make a difference any way she can.
Carrie’s work with our students has encouraged them to fall in love with reading while simultaneously having fun learning. We truly appreciate Carrie’s continued investment in both HOPES and in serving her community. We are thrilled to welcome Carrie back for another semester of programming!
Shekinah Jones, Community Volunteer
Shekinah Jones is a Chicago native and joined the Chicago HOPES for Kids team as a community volunteer. Shekinah works for the city of Chicago as a Senior Emergency Coordinator at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), and she is always looking for an opportunity to give back to her community. Shekinah chose to volunteer with HOPES because our programs allow her to interact with a wide range of people – students to site coordinators to other volunteers. To Shekinah, being a volunteer means truly loving your community and the people who reside in it. It’s a commitment and sacrifice. “The one thing you can never get back is time and taking the time to build the next generation is an extremely rewarding sacrifice.” Shekinah says the students keep her motivated to continue volunteering. “The kids are awesome and it’s important to me that they know it! They are funny and smart and have so much to offer. Watching them glow anytime they accomplish something, especially when they didn’t think they could make my day! I am their biggest cheerleader!” Her favorite memory so far with HOPES has been when one of her students was struggling with homework, and she worked on it with him. After each answer he got right, his confidence grew! After program that day, he told Shekinah that he couldn’t wait to show his mother and teacher his homework. We are so thankful to have Shekinah on our team and for her service as a community volunteer!
Kimberly Cook, Program Coordinator, AmeriCorps VISTA
Q: What peaked your interest in wanting to join HOPES?
“My desire to join HOPES stems from my genuine passion for working with young people. I take great joy in being a part of their lives, contributing to their personal and intellectual growth, and providing them with care and support. The opportunity to make a positive impact in their lives makes it all the more fulfilling for me.”
Q: What are you most excited about while you serve at HOPES?
“I am thrilled about several aspects of serving at HOPES. First and foremost, I am eager to establish meaningful connections with the children and their parents. Additionally, I am excited to learn about curriculum development and implementing engaging activities and programs that foster growth and development. Furthermore, I look forward to being involved with the community and creating a positive and lasting impact through my work with HOPES!”
Q: What does being a volunteer mean to you?
“To me, being a volunteer means having an unwavering passion and desire to serve others. It's about being selfless, giving back to the community, and making a positive impact in the world."
Q: What’s one fun fact that you would like to share about yourself?
“I've been to 8 countries within the span of one year!”
Spring Programming is well underway and has already been so successful so far, thanks to our HOPES staff, AmeriCorps members, and community volunteers! Over a month ago, Chicago HOPES for Kids welcomed two new AmeriCorps VISTAS, both of whom were excited to join the HOPES team! Read on to learn more about our new VISTAS...
School is back in session and we are thrilled to kick off Spring Programming this month! Just a few weeks ago, we welcomed our Spring 2023 AmeriCorps Cohort and they are excited to help Chicago HOPES for Kids provide another successful semester full of fun learning! Read on to learn more about our incredible cohort:
Laflanicea is a Chicago native and has returned to Chicago HOPES for Kids as an AmeriCorps member! Laflanicea first decided to join HOPES due to her previous involvement working at local neighborhood community centers and wanted to gain exposure working in homeless shelters to better meet the needs of our students. She is most excited about the opportunity to serve children and families in their time of need, especially now given how hard COVID-19 has hit Chicago communities. As a volunteer, Laflanicea believes you begin to develop a deeper understanding of how your work directly and positively impacts others. Service is a great opportunity to learn and grow as well as to help those who need it most. Laflanicea loves to swim, knows how to make killer grilled cheese sandwiches, and would love the opportunity to teach our students how to play double dutch. We are so excited to have Laflanicea back on our team!
Clara is from Oak Park, IL and is another returning AmeriCorps member! Clara was most interested in working with Chicago HOPES because she loved how passionate the organization is and how directly involved we are in the communities we serve. She is most excited about the opportunity to improve our students’ reading abilities and build up their reading confidence. Clara believes that being a volunteer means being able to practice empathy and to be a good leader. Clara loves to spend her free time exploring the city’s limitless options of restaurants and food, visiting local thrift shops, and listening to music. We are so excited to have Clara back on our team!
Daniel is from St. Charlies, IL and one of our newer AmeriCorps members. Daniel first decided to join our team here at HOPES because of the opportunity to make tangible impacts on kids who need it. He is most excited about the chance to build lasting connections with his fellow AmeriCorps members plus establish relationships with the students we serve. Daniel views being a volunteer as someone who can utilize their skills to do something that makes the world a better place, no matter how big or small! Daniel enjoys making music and is a photographer. We are so excited to have Daniel on our team!
Jacqueline (Jackie) Navarro
Jackie is from Cicero, IL and is another one of our newer AmeriCorps members. Jackie became interested in Chicago HOPES for Kids because of the opportunity to gain experience working with children. She is most excited about being able to see how happy our programs make our students, especially when we’re able to give them special items like Halloween costumes. To Jackie, being a volunteer means being a good helper. In her free time, Jackie enjoys watching Netflix and making songs. We are so excited to have Jackie on our team!
Nishi is from Naperville, IL and is a newer AmeriCorps member. Nishi first joined Chicago HOPES because she loved how hands-on and direct her role is; she can’t wait to make a difference in the lives of those we serve! Nishi is most excited about working with HOPES because she will be able to watch our students grow and help them learn during our programs. To Nishi, being a volunteer means being able to give her time for a cause she believes in. Nishi loves to sing during her free time. We are so excited to have Nishi on our team!
Kenna is from Hudson, OH and is a returning AmeriCorps member! Kenna decided to serve with Chicago HOPES for Kids again because she loved her past volunteering experiences with HOPES during the Summer 2021 semester and wanted to continue supporting the amazing work we do for our students! She is most excited about getting to see our students grow their academic confidence. Kenna believes that being a volunteer is an opportunity to contribute to her community. One fun fact about Kenna is that she’s visited 44 states! We are so excited to have Kenna back on our team!
Ella is from Illinois and has been an Americorps member since last semester. Ella joined Chicago HOPES for Kids because she felt that our mission spoke directly to her heart. As someone who endured struggles of her own while growing up, she knew the profound impact just one person can make. It is her life’s goal to be able to inspire and uplift the students who are far too often disregarded and overlooked. Ella is most excited to have the opportunity to build long-lasting, positive relationships with our students, help our students understand and cope with their own traumas, and potentially ignite a passion within them! To Ella, being a volunteer means she is able to truly make a difference in this world by simply giving a little bit of herself. Even though she is only one person, Ella knows that her impact can be tremendous and really help shape our world for the better. Ella is an artist and guitarist. We are so excited to have Ella on our team!
Thina is from Los Angeles, CA and is a newer AmeriCorps member! Thina decided to join our team because Chicago HOPES peaked her interest in helping kids in need, specifically with literacy. She is most excited about being able to work 1:1 with our students. Being a volunteer is important to Thina because it allows her to help others and serves as a great way to meet other people with similar interests. Thina loves the outdoors – taking a walk or riding a bike are just some examples of how Thina spends her free time. We are so excited to have Thina on our team!
Mia is from San Francisco, CA and is another newer AmeriCorps member! Mia was initially drawn to Chicago HOPES for Kids’ mission to better the education of children who live in underserved communities. She is most excited to learn about varying Chicago communities and help educate our students through our programs. To Mia, being a volunteer means learning from people more experienced than myself and giving back to the community. In her free time, Mia loves to read and take photos. We are so excited to have Mia on our team!
Sloane is from Glenview, IL and is one of our newer AmeriCorps members! Sloane became interested in HOPES because she has always been really passionate about the issue of homelessness in Chicago. Sloane decided to take a gap year before attending college and believes this opportunity will expand her skills and involvement in the community. Sloane has previous experience doing volunteer work with families experiencing homelessness; once she found out about HOPES, she knew it was a perfect fit and an amazing opportunity for her! Sloane also loves working with kids, especially in an academic environment. To Sloane, being a volunteer means giving back to those who need it most and making a positive difference in the lives of others! In her free time, Sloane loves to watch her favorite sitcoms. We are so excited to have Sloane join our team!
Tatiana is from Elgin, IL and is one of our newer AmeriCorps members. Tatiana became interested in Chicago HOPES because she loved the concept of our programs. She wants to help in any way she can, and she believes giving back to the community is amazing. Tatiana is most excited about meeting new people, especially the students. She is excited to help our students learn as well as learn new things herself. To Tatiana, being a volunteer means helping others in the best way possible while being mindful of the fact that you need to make sure you are being respectful to others. In her free time, Tatiana loves to travel to new places and immerse herself in other cultures. She also enjoys playing basketball, both recreationally and competitively. We are so excited to have Tatiana on our team!