Centers for New Horizons beacons volunteers during National Volunteer Month

Photo Credit: Oscar Edmond

Volunteers are wanted and needed.

Centers for New Horizons’ National Volunteer Month is looking for time and talent from the community it serves. Volunteers will support a variety of efforts, including serving as reading buddies or teacher assistants for the pre-school program, mentoring, conducting mock interviews, and contributing skills and experience toward the youth development, work development or early education programs. Additionally, volunteers are needed to serve as companions to those in the organization’s senior services programs.

CEO and executive director Christa Hamilton talked about National Volunteer Month during a recent interview.

How is the organization impacting the community?
We’re reducing violence. We’re creating economic opportunities, which is significant for me because when you provide a job for a parent, it flows to a family in a certain way. That economic impact is something I’ve seen change the dynamic for a lot of people we work with, and then it goes through the entire family. So we see that change in a person getting a job. It influences the trajectory of a whole family unit. So, I would say we make an impact on the economic opportunities we create. We are reducing violence through programs, such as our anger management program, therapy, and trauma-informed services. We have a restorative justice approach to mediating conflict. The wellness activities and protective services we offer senior citizens are also impactful. We do a lot of work in helping seniors stay safe, providing them with access to resources they need to live independently. We are often the total safety net and bridge for them to the outside world.

What is your proudest accomplishment, thus far?
I’m most proud that we are at the forefront of violence prevention through employment. Not a lot of people in the city are taking on the most hardened population to help them change the direction of their lives. So our READI Chicago Program is one of several anti-violence job programs we have. We are working in the Englewood community, which has a population of those who are still heavily involved in high-risk activity. However, through our initiatives, we’re able to connect them to therapy, and we can get them working. Being able to deal with the toughest population and see progress and impact has been something we are most proud of.

With all the different programs you offer at Centers for New Horizons, what are your goals for 2019?
Our mission has always been to support families, and we have done it mostly in the past in specific areas like Bronzeville. However, now other communities need us more.  There’s a need in North Lawndale; in Englewood; and South Shore. We want to go to places that need those services. However, support from others in the community in the form of volunteerism and donations allow us the capabilities to spread our footprint to the places that need us most. We still want to do what we do. What we want is to take the show on the road and impact the people in other communities, like we impacted people in Bronzeville for so many years.


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