Chicago – also known as Chi-Town, The Windy City, the City of Big Shoulders, and The Second City – is a fascinating place. Being the 3rd largest city in the United States of America, Chicago houses around 2.7 million residents within its city limits, and 9.5 million people if you take its surrounding suburbs into account. With this amount of people comes a lot of beauty, talent, culture, and attractions that can be enjoyed city-wide. With over 5,000 restaurants, 250 theaters, 225 music venues, 200 dance companies, 56 museums, 700 public works of art, 26 miles of lakefront, 26 beaches, and 580 parks, Chicago’s city culture is constantly bustling and attracts over 52 million tourists each year. Many visitors come to see famous downtown structures and places such as the Willis Tower, Wrigley Field, Millenium Park (where the famous “Bean” resides), Navy Pier, the Buckingham Fountain, and Second City Comedy Club, while others come to tour and shop along Chicago’s downtown Magnificent Mile. Outside of downtown, Chicago has a lot of cultures and beauty to explore, as the city is extremely diverse. The city itself is separated into 77 different neighborhoods, each of which has its own unique culture and community. Many neighborhoods are unique to the cultures of the individuals who have immigrated to those places from afar, and present many opportunities for others to come and learn about the many different parts of the world. All of these things come together to make Chicago an extremely unique, beautiful, and exciting place.
Along with all of it’s excitement and attractions, the city of Chicago also has a deep history that led to not only these attractions coming to be, but also to the development of some painful issues that it’s residents face on a day-to-day basis. From government corruption which led to a mass amount of debt for the city and resulted in the closure of over 40 public schools due to a lack of funding; to racism and racist housing acts passed in the mid-1900s that forced many into poverty and kept the city segregated still to this day; to a lack of resources in lower-income areas that result in food deserts, an increase in violence and gang involvement, lack of education, and a corrupt justice system; the people of Chicago have many hard realities that they live with.
As we seek to serve our city best, we have found that we need to seek to understand both the beautiful and painful parts of Chicago’s history and current events. We love the beautiful, fun, unique, and diverse parts of the city, but we also love understanding our neighbors as we learn more about the things they are currently experiencing and how the city’s history has brought them to this place. We would like to invite you to come and prayerfully learn alongside of us as we seek to serve our neighbors and further the work that God is already doing in the city through our numerous ministry partners as well as many others who are fighting for justice in Chicago!
WHAT TO EXPECT ON YOUR TRIP
In Chicago, we work with over 30 partner sites all throughout the city. We have been working with most of our partners for over 10 years, but continue to do research on new relationships that we can develop as new ministries pop up in our city.
Our partners all work within a variety of realms in the city, which brings a lot of diversity to the serving experience for our volunteers. Some of those serving experiences include working with students & teachers in the Chicago Public School system, summer camps, working with those who are battling food insecurity at soup kitchens and food pantries, playing Bingo with senior citizens at low-income residences, working in urban gardens or with urban arts beautification programs, and working with refugees in English as a Second Language classes. Our volunteers get a wide variety of experiences while serving with us and get to meet many different types of people throughout their trip!
Our hope is that by providing a wide variety of service experiences, you & your team will get to meet many of our neighbors in the city to learn more about their lives, and the city, through the relationships you build.
Meet the Directors
Emily is originally from the “Small Wonder” state called Delaware. She graduated from Liberty University (in Virginia) in May of 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. After graduating, she moved to Chicago to host groups at CSM throughout the Fall of 2011 and Spring of 2012. When the opportunity to work for CSM Chicago as an associate city director arose in May of 2014, she gladly took the opportunity to grow and be challenged in a new way on the mission field. In her spare moments, she loves to spend time with family and friends, play ultimate Frisbee, go running, set up her hammock outside, marvel at the beauty of Chicago, and daydream of one day owning the cutest puppy in the world.
Kristina is originally from the great state of Michigan. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Worship and a double minor in International Community Development and Church Music. She spent a summer hosting in CSM Chicago before becoming an Associate Director in May of 2017. In her free time she enjoys drinking coffee, playing music, cycling, and buying cool socks! She is looking forward to seeking the Lord in Chicago, and loving the community around her.