Thursday, April 29, 2010


Tables covered in scraps of cloth, markers and paint is not the first thing I would expect to see at a homeless shelter! Let alone an entire dining area transformed into an art workspace filled with students from an elite art school and guests at the shelter sharing laughter and creativity! For the past 6 weeks, students from the School of Art Institute of Chicago have been collaborating with guests in projects such as: making felt from scratch, creating a 3-D wall puzzle, and a visualization of each individual’s strengths weaving into one another.

If this sounds like something you have to SEE to BELIEVE, then come to the finale exhibit, entitled Imaginarium, on Wednesday, May 5 between 5:30-7:30pm at the Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church, 600 W. Fullerton Pkwy. In the students’ and guests’ own words: “The creative exchange between both guests and students has evolved into a sculptural mural project that literally links together and transverses the varying realms of our collective imagination. Celebrate with us and enjoy a night of fun, food and joyous conversation!”

If you have any questions, please email or call 773.549.6111 x216. We look forward to seeing you at the Imaginarium!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

THANK YOU Volunteers!

Sunday marks the kickoff to National Volunteer Appreciation Week.  LPCS would like to take this time to thank all of the volunteers who make what we do possible.  Our untiring volunteers put in more than 14,000 hours every year making meals, teaching classes, staying overnight, answering phones, stuffing envelopes, and more!  Whether you volunteer at LPCS or elsewhere, LPCS would like to say THANK YOU volunteers!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Giving back, Getting back

Being in transition has given me the opportunity to explore a variety of venues I never would have experienced. Having been in large nonprofits my entire career, I was pleased to be able to experience a community-based not for profit. Budgets may be smaller but not challenges. I signed up for the Legacy Leadership Institute to mentor not for profits a little over a year ago and luckily was paired with Lincoln Park Community Shelter. After meeting the staff, I immediately knew it would be a pleasure to work with them. The staff have big smiles to match their big hearts as well as a tremendous amount of creative energy-a winning combination which adds to their successful operation of LPCS.

From day one I was completely taken by the sense of community at LPCS. Staff, guests, volunteers and board members are all committed to support and serve. The spirit and atmosphere at LPCS is filled with hope and possibilities, not an easy task in today’s world much less in the world of homelessness. Working with LPCS has changed my own conceptions about homelessness. Walking into the lounge area, I was struck with the notion that I could as well be in a local coffee shop, not a shelter. The time spent working with LPCS has been personally rewarding to me; in the process I have become more aware and understanding of the plight of the homeless and much less judgmental. I look forward to more volunteer opportunities to work with the staff and the LPCS community.
--Teri Somrak, LPCS Legacy Leader Volunteer

The Legacy Leadership Institute program focuses on teaching individuals how to develop much-needed funds for important causes. As a Legacy Leader, volunteers put thier know-how into action after being matched up with a nonprofit organization of their choice.  To learn more about the Legacy Leadership Institute, visit

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A trip to Springfield

Working in such a hands on environment at the shelter, truly at the grassroots level, is so valuable in terms of understanding the day to day struggles of homelessness. But it’s always important to take a step back and recognize the systemic problems that make homelessness happen. Being in Springfield jolted me back to that reality. It is easy to “blame the victim,” profess that individuals need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. But homelessness, at its core, is a musical chairs dilemma. More people than places to sit. This is something that I tried to get across to people I spoke with at the capitol. When I sat down with my state rep, it was apparent that he actually did understand this, that affordable housing is limited. The problem was that he put the burden on the non-profits themselves to find the resources to create all of the housing necessary. The fact that non-profits might not be in the business of MAKING MONEY hadn’t dawned on him. It is important for groups of people to continue reminding our state representatives and senators that fighting homelessness is a struggle that requires the collaboration of non-profits doing on-the-ground work, individuals being empowered to make positive life decisions, AND the government shaping a just and equitable system via their lawmaking.

Being given the brush off by two of my legislators certainly made it clear to me that they are not worried about the homeless population in terms of their ability to shape the next political election. It’s true, persons without a home are much less likely to register to vote, go door to door for candidates, donate to campaigns, and show up at the polls on election day. That’s why it’s important for those of us who DO engage in such political actions to speak out and be the best voice of homeless individuals that we can possibly be. Helping provide day to day services to people in need is something I take pride in. But remembering that shelter guests are a SYMPTOM of the problem, and not the problem itself, is critical. This trip to Springfield helped encourage me to look to legislators in helping ameliorate some of these struggles, as opposed to putting all of the responsibilities on non-profits and the individuals themselves, which I sometimes do. No matter how impressive this shelter is, and no matter how much good work it does, we can’t forget that the buck stops in capitol buildings.
--Katie McNamara, LPCS Volunteer Coordinator, Americorps*VISTA