The Volunteer Center Celebrates Selfless Giving

For more than half a century, The Volunteer Center has strived to improve the quality of life in local communities by engaging people in meaningful service.

Through its dedicated service and expansive network of nonprofits, The Volunteer Center has grown to a do-gooder juggernaut, reaching beyond New Trier Township and the North Shore to refer volunteers to nonprofits throughout all of greater Chicago.

“In a world where turmoil can sometimes dominate our order, a child visits an Alzheimer’s patient, a family builds a home for the homeless, hundreds restore our lagoons or grow food for soup kitchens, and a hairdresser styles the hair of a homeless woman on her way to a job interview,” says Executive Director Barb Tubekis. “That is The Volunteer Center, the local clearinghouse for volunteers and impactful nonprofit organizations. We are proud of our selfless community.”

The Volunteer Center began in 1960 as an intergenerational project between the Winnetka Public Schools and the North Shore Senior Center. New Trier High School seniors needed tutors, and members of the senior center had the expertise to help them. The Volunteer Talent Pool, as it was first known, became The Volunteer Center in 1995 to reflect the diverse volunteer activities supported.

Today, The Volunteer Center refers nearly 15,000 volunteers to more than 125 nonprofit partners annually. Its Days of Service (including events for Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) bring together volunteers of all ages for family-friendly programming and activities to benefit the local communities.

Each year, The Volunteer Center pays homage to a group of extraordinary community volunteers who have made a huge impact. This year’s honorees include Jane Gallery and son Frank Craven, Feed the Dream founder Sandy Haggart, Jane Trueheart Huels and Glencoe Community Garden co-founder Nina Schroeder. The five exemplary volunteers will be honored at a reception, Saturday, March 8.

The best volunteers bring energy and enthusiasm to projects, but Tubekis cites three key qualities that unite all volunteers:

  • Passion and commitment for a cause: “The more passionate and committed (a volunteer is), the better they become,” Tubekis says. Find an issue you believe in, and for which you believe there is an attainable solution. Start with a lighter commitment to get to know an organization, and ease into a long-term volunteer commitment.
  • Patience: “Patience is definitely something you need for every volunteer situation,” Tubekis says. “It’s very hard to step outside of your comfort zone.” Patience leads to empathy, which allows volunteers to understand the situations of individuals they are helping.
  • Selflessness: “People who come to us step outside of their needs. They’re not doing it to be recognized; they’re always very humble. We do honor (them) because we want to encourage other people to see that there are ways that you can help,” Tubekis says. “If you believe in something, you can always make that difference.”

“We live in a community that is very benevolent, that understands the needs out there,” Tubekis says. “They’re looking for ways to help. We want to help; we want people to understand the importance of volunteerism.”

Upcoming Events:

Join The Volunteer Center in honoring five exceptional volunteers who have made significant impacts on those in need, Saturday, March 8, 7 p.m. at the Winnetka Community House.

Make It Better is a proud media sponsor of this event.