UIC Day of Service

More than 140 UIC students, alumni, employees and others dedicated 413 hours to giving back to Chicago-area communities April 7 during the ninth annual UIC Day of Service.

During the event, hosted by the UIC Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, participants volunteered at 20 sites, including 17 nonprofits.

Rebecca Allen, a 2013 graduate of the UIC School of Public Health, organized a group of School of Public Health alumni to volunteer at La Casa Norte, an institution dedicated to serving youth and families who are confronting homelessness.

“You go to classes and you learn about all of these theories, but it’s so much more valuable to see how it translates in to the real world,” she said.

“There are over 18,000 CPS (Chicago Public Schools) students who are considered homeless. These statistics are just alarming. There’s only about 350 beds for these youth, who have nowhere to go, and it made our work more meaningful.”

Susan Panek, a sophomore studying biology, was a student site leader at Glenkirk, a day center for individuals who have intellectual disabilities. She spent her day painting and improving Glenkirk’s physical space.

“This day of service highlights the importance of being able to give back to your community,” she said. “But it also allows you to see what’s out there for yourself, and to see the unexpected places where you can help others.”

The UIC Day of Service also presented a unique opportunity for students and alumni to network, build community and catch up.
“There were a couple alumni who I hadn’t seen since 2013, so it was an amazing opportunity for us to connect with this great community, but also connect with each other,” Allen said.

Suzan Akin, associate director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, said the sites were appreciative of UIC’s volunteers. She is already looking forward to next year’s day of service.

“The people who participated had a really good experience, so I’m happy we were able to do that.”