I've been a volunteer with Open Books since 2006 and every project or event I've participated in has been such a great experience. I've mentored high school students writing a novelette and a resume, sorted books, collected books, helped out at book swaps, even walked around Millennium Park taking pictures of people reading at lunchtime... yes, it's quite a variety and that's one of the aspects of volunteering for Open Books that makes it so much fun! There are so many opportunities to participate, even for someone like me who lives out in the far western suburbs. Every single person I've ever met at Open Books is incredibly dedicated to the organization but more importantly, to the people it serves. Their enthusiasm is infectious and the programs they've developed are innovative, effective and don't use scads of money to implement. They just DO it!
I had never done volunteer work before but not that I am retired and have time to do things I enjoy I wanted to make myself useful. I always loced to read and I write short stories and poems so I go to as many literary events as I can, especially free ones. I heard about Open Books at out LitFest and I thought that sounded good. I went to an oorientation and it was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to being a Reading Buddy this year and maybe more.
Open Books has developed a wide range of volunteer projects aimed at improving the literacy level in Chicago. There are specific efforts aimed at every age group and a variety of neighborhoods/locations; from kindergarten through adulthood, from Evanston to the South side. Even for an overworked suburbanite like myself, the sheer number of opportunities makes it possible to squeeze volunteering into the most cramped of schedules. Additionally, the list of programs is always growing. When I donate to Open Books I can be confident the money will stretch a long way and produce real results. My volunteer record is sporadic, but I think it's a beautiful thing to be able to say I have been a part of a poetry workshop, helped out at Pitchfork Fest, and created a book cover all for the same cause.