Category Archives: Your Stories

“Why I’m a Nameless Hero?” (Why I Volunteer)

See that chubby guy in the picture above…that’s me! ūüôā

My name is Shaun (you may call me…The Shaun but that’s another blog for another time). I have been a One Brick volunteer for the 4+ years and an Event Coordinator for just about 2 years….loving every minute of it too!

During One Brick events we usually trying to learn a little more about each other and the question is always asked… “What brought you to One Brick?” The answers vary from “new to town and I’m looking to meet new people” to “I really enjoy the relaxed nature of the activites”. I am, hopefully at this time, going to give you a reason you have not heard to that question. Yet an answer that to “Why I volunteer with One Brick” that will help you fully understand why One Brick and its volunteers (like you) are so important!

I, Shaun, volunteer…as my own way of saying THANK YOU!

Your confused look is expected so I will expand on this reasoning a bit.

My mom and I spend most of my childhood homeless, living from shelter to shelter, soup kitchen to soup kitchen…luckily to find either…on some nights finding neither. We slept wherever we can and accepting from whomever would give to us. It was very common for me to change school often as we moved to another shelter in a different part of the city.

Mostly during¬†this time, I experienced any form of friendship, love and care I had in my life…from complete strangers.¬†My mom and I did have family to help us from time to time but there were sometimes limits to how far they could extend themselves. Yet to fill those gaps were a series of nameless and often faceless heores who gave whatever they¬†had so I could have anything at all.

Nameless heroes who gave me the clothes from their children so I may have something to wear.

Nameless heroes who gave their time to prepare meals at soup kitchens so my mom and I could eat.

Nameless heroes that donated tickets toshows,  plays and sporting events so a young boy may experiences such joys.

Nameless heroes who bought extra school supplies so I may go to school prepared.

Nameless heroes who gave a young man and his mother hope, love and care even though they often didn’t even know our name.

Nameless heroes who fulfilled the Christmas wish of a child they’ve never met…and probalby never will.

These nameless heroes is many senses made me the man I am today. Unfortuntely, I have no way of directly thanking these “nameless heroes” of my life but I relaized at a young age…that I had every thing it took to become one. Ever since…I’ve made a promise and dedicated a portion of my life…to being a nameless hero…that promise¬†I brought me to One Brick.

I volunteered at the Inspiration Cafe because once young men and women to make me soup and meat loaf to eat.

I volunteered at the “Light Up The Night” events because someone comforted my mom when she was domestically abused.

I volunteered at the Greater Chicagoland Food Depository because that food once came to my house through the FoodShare program.

I volunteered at the Night Ministry because I once was one of those children in the streets of Uptown who anxious waited on their van.

I volunteered to support Meal on Wheels because my mother received their meals nightly in the years prior to her passing from AIDS.

Those who have volunteered with me, have caught me from time to time not wearing my OneBrick nametag. I must admit that this is not by accident. I learned at an early age one of my “nameless heroes” that it sometimes is not important if someone remembers who you are…what what you’ve done for them and how you’re affected their lives.

Every One Brick event I volunteer for or coordinate is just another way I get to say THANK YOU to those who did the same for me as a child. At every event, I can carry a simple thought that maybe through giving my time another person will be inspired to become a NAMELESS HERO.

This is why I volunteer.

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Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Fun-Shine, Your Stories


Tips for Volunteering Wisely

Many people consider volunteering all the time yet don’t for various reasons. More than likely there are a couple of you right now going through that very challenge resulting in various in-decisions ranging from what to do to where to go. Well, we’ve found a list of 10 tips from the Network for Good that may assist you in the early stages of your journey with volunteering.

  1. Research the causes or issues important to you.
  2. Look for a group that works with issues about which you feel strongly. You might already be giving money to one of these organizations, and that might be a good place to begin your volunteer experience. If you can’t find such an organization, here’s a challenging and intriguing thought: why not start one yourself? You can rally your neighbors to clean up that vacant lot on the corner, patrol the neighborhood, paint an elderly neighbor’s house, take turns keeping an eye on the ailing person down the street, or form a group to advocate for a remedy to that dangerous intersection in your neighborhood. There is no end to the creative avenues for volunteering, just as there is no end to the need for volunteers.
  3. Consider the skills you have to offer.
    If you enjoy outdoor work, have a knack for teaching, or just enjoy interacting with people, you may want to look for volunteer work that would incorporate these aspects of your personality. Many positions require a volunteer who has previous familiarity with certain equipment, such as computers, or who possesses certain skills, such as ability in athletics or communications. For one of these positions you might decide to do something comparable to what you do on the job during your workday, or something that you already enjoy as a hobby. This sort of position allows you to jump right into the work without having to take training to prepare for the assignment.
  4. Would you like to learn something new?
    Perhaps you would like to learn a new skill or gain exposure to a new situation. Consider seeking a volunteer opportunity where you’ll learn something new. For example, volunteering to work on the newsletter for the local animal shelter will improve your writing and editing abilities – skills that may help you in your career. Or, volunteering can simply offer a change from your daily routine. For example, if your full-time job is in an office, you may decide to take on a more active volunteer assignment, such as leading tours at an art museum or building a playground. Many nonprofits seek out people who are willing to learn. Realize beforehand, however, that such work might require a time commitment for training before the actual volunteer assignment begins.
  5. Combine your goals.
    Look for volunteer opportunities that will also help you achieve your other goals for your life. For example, if you want to lose a few extra pounds, pick an active volunteer opportunity, such as cleaning a park or working with kids. Or, if you’ve been meaning to take a cooking class, try volunteering at a food bank that teaches cooking skills.
  6. Don’t over-commit your schedule.
    Make sure the volunteer hours you want to give fit into your hectic life, so that you don’t frustrate your family, exhaust yourself, shortchange the organization you’re trying to help or neglect your job. Do you want a long-term assignment or something temporary? If you are unsure about your availability, or want to see how the work suits you before making an extensive commitment, see whether the organization will start you out on a limited number of hours until you get the feel of things. Better to start out slowly than to commit yourself to a schedule you can’t or don’t want to fulfill.
  7. Nonprofits may have questions, too.
    While most nonprofits are eager to find volunteer help, they have to be careful when accepting the services you offer. If you contact an organization with an offer to volunteer your time, you may be asked to come in for an interview, fill out a volunteer application, or describe your qualifications and your background just as you would at an interview for a paying job. It is in the organization’s interest and more beneficial to the people it serves to make certain you have the skills needed, that you are truly committed to doing the work, and that your interests match those of the nonprofit. Furthermore, in volunteer work involving children or other at-risk populations, there are legal ramifications for the organization to consider.
  8. Consider volunteering as a family.
    Think about looking for a volunteer opportunity suitable for parents and children to do together, or for a husband and wife to take on as a team. When a family volunteers to work together at a nonprofit organization, the experience can bring them closer together, teach young children the value of giving their time and effort, introduce everyone in the family to skills and experiences never before encountered, and give the entire family a shared experience as a wonderful family memory.
  9. Virtual volunteering?
    Yes, there is such a thing! If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organizations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work over the computer. This might take the form of giving free legal advice, typing a college term paper for a person with a disability, or simply keeping in contact with a shut-in who has e-mail. This sort of volunteering might be well suited to you if you have limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability that precludes you from getting about freely. Virtual volunteering can also be a way for you to give time if you simply enjoy computers and want to employ your computer skills in your volunteer work.
  10. I never thought of that!
    Many community groups are looking for volunteers, and some may not have occurred to you. Most of us know that hospitals, libraries, and churches use volunteers for a great deal of their work, but here are some volunteer opportunities that may not have crossed your mind:

    • Day care centers, Neighborhood Watch, Public Schools and Colleges
    • Halfway houses, Community Theaters, Drug Rehabilitation Centers, Fraternal Organizations and Civic Clubs
    • Retirement Centers and Homes for the Elderly, Meals on Wheels, Church or Community-Sponsored Soup Kitchens or Food Pantries
    • Museums, Art Galleries, and Monuments
    • Community Choirs, Bands and Orchestras
    • Prisons, Neighborhood Parks, Youth Organizations, Sports Teams, and after-school programs Shelters for Battered Women and Children
  11. Give voice to your heart through your giving and volunteering!
    Bring your heart and your sense of humor to your volunteer service, along with your enthusiastic spirit, which in itself is a priceless gift. What you’ll get back will be immeasurable!
  12. Historical Restorations, Battlefields and National Parks
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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in Your Stories


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In Your Own Words: Marissa


My good friend Katie and I met putting hundreds of condom goody bags together. ¬†Clearly, it was destiny. ¬†Somewhere between me wondering aloud if the same person really would want XL condoms and strawberry flavored ones and her compensating for a lube shortage by stuffing extra “tuxedo” condoms in her packages… I knew this girl was the friend for me.

One Brick is a great organization for those who want to volunteer but don’t want to (or can’t) commit to the same project/organization every week. ¬†I’ve done all sorts of events with them, ranging from serving beer at a festival to hauling books out of storage for a library book sale. ¬†Everything has always been very well organized and all the leaders are volunteers too.

What I like about One Brick is not only getting to be a part of doing “good”, but also meeting some great people. ¬†There is always a social component to every volunteer event, meaning who ever wants to usually goes out all together afterward for food/drinks. ¬†The volunteers range in age, but I’ve found they’re predominantly women in their 20/30’s (yeah, holy-single-guy’s-untapped-gold-mine, you’re tellin’ me). ¬†It’s really a great way to expand your social network and make some new friends, especially since most people seem to do it on their own – it’s not like there are cliques.

Events fill up fast, so look ahead on the calendar ( and I’d advise you sign up the day an event becomes available for sign-up.

BOTTOM LINE: ¬†A well-organized group & a great way to meet new friends and do some good… at your convenience!


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Posted by on November 2, 2009 in Fun-Shine, Your Stories


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Kind Words from A One Brick Volunteer



I moved to Chicago about a year ago and didn’t know anyone. ¬†One night I started googling things to do in the city and found One Brick. ¬†I’ve always loved volunteering and the social component was like icing on the cake. ¬†Getting to make a difference and make new friends at the same time sounded like the perfect combination. ¬†I love everything about One Brick. ¬†It’s a great way to volunteer.

First of all, it’s soooo easy. There’s a calender posted online with various events. ¬†(Check it out athttp://www.onebrick.or…) ¬†All you have to do is find an event that looks interesting to you, sign up, and volunteer. ¬†There’s no orientation or commitment, and you can sign up for as many or as few events as you want.

The variety of events is another plus. ¬†In the past year, I’ve gotten to cook lunch for the homeless, package condoms, bake cookies, paint a grade school bathroom, garden, and so much more. ¬†I love that I’ve been able to have so many different experiences and see different areas of the city. ¬†One Brick is never boring.

It’s also a great way to meet people. ¬†After every event we go out to get food or drinks and to socialize. ¬†It’s always a good time! ¬†I’ve met some great friends through One Brick and also met some wonderful interesting people. ¬†I can’t say enough good thing about this organization!



Adventures in Volunteering

My wife and I often share our music with seniors at retirement or nursing homes. I play the cello and she plays the harp. Often times my wife will introduce a song or tell something about the music she is about to play. One time she told the audience that she is going to play a piece entitled, Claire de Lune by Claude Debusy. One hard of
hearing resident asked another sitting next to her, “What did she say?” The resident replied, “She is going to play Fruit of the Loom.”

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Posted by on May 8, 2009 in Fun-Shine, Your Stories


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The Night We “Lit Up The Lakefront”


My fiance and I will never forget the night we helped “Light Up The Lakefront” with One Brick last fall.¬†When first assigned our task of placing candles in brown bags of sand, it didn’t hit us.¬†When we were asked to light those candles, it didn’t hit us.¬†Yet when they told us…it hit us.

¬†“Each lit candle represents a woman effected by domestic violence.”¬†

The candles turned from glowing brown bags to lives. We turned to women telling their stories and we suddenly learned our true meaning for being there that night. 

Thank you One Brick for giving us the opportunity to be apart of it.

-Shaun (One Brick Volunteer since 2007)

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Posted by on January 23, 2009 in Your Stories