Monday, June 27, 2011

Lunch at the Shelter

A few weekends ago, my kids and I joined my friends at High 5 Functions to prepare and serve lunch at Lincoln Park Community Shelter.


Mural on the wall at LPCS. LPCS was recently awarded “Partner Agency of the Year” from Emergency Fund, the organization I’m donating 10% of my Etsy sales to this year. It was just a coincidence that my friends at ^5 chose to do a volunteer event at LPCS, a very cool coincidence!

LCPS is a comprehensive social service agency serving adult men and women who are experiencing homelessness. LPCS has been providing shelter and other basic needs to Lincoln Park’s homeless neighbors for 25 years. Today, LCPS provides interim housing, meals and a targeted array of social services to over 300 people each year. (from the LCPS website)

Check this out – I’m connected to LCPS in another way that I just realized, when looking up their website to get a description of their services. I’m a student in the Non-Profit Management program at North Park University, and the LCPS website says: At the annual symposium hosted by North Park University’s Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management Lincoln Park Community Shelter was honored with the prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence! This is a competitive field each year, with previous winners such as The Night Ministry, The Cara Program, and Deborah’s Place.

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Bennett (9) and Kori (11) eating a healthy breakfast of iced honey buns, waiting for the el (elevated train) to Ana’s house. We left Rian (3) at home with Daddy. He can help out when he’s a bit older.

First, we went to Ana’s apartment to prepare the food.


Here’s the ^5 team: Curt, Kelli and Ana. You’ve seen them before as a pirate, parrot and mermaid when they raced in the Chiditarod. These awesome folks are among my very favorite former co-workers, and though we don’t work together anymore, we’re still buds. You would be hard pressed to find smarter, funnier, cooler people with more energy and interest in the world around them. Love, love, love them. They are each rising stars, too – super awesome at what they do.

We were quickly put to work. The kids were given multiple copies of the placemats which had menu selections on the opposite side.

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Their job was to color up the placemats, and they took the directions to “be creative” seriously. They began using the salad bowl as a spot to personalize each placemat. They started with Chicago sports team names/logos and then moved into country flags.

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At one point, a Kelli and I came into the living room to see how the kids were coming along, and were telling the kids we liked the creativity they were using. We notice Bennett had just finished coloring a salad bowl with the German flag on it, and began writing something . . . we watched as each letter was formed, and seemed to understand what he was writing at the same time. Kelli and I both said, “Ohhh . . . OH! Um, ok, no, Bennett, I don’t think this one is going to make it to the shelter. Your sentiment is in the right place, but . . . no. Inappropriate.”

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Later, on the kitchen counter, an iPhone covered up the important part, allowing the placemat to send a very different message. This placemat is now awesome fridge art at Ana’s. I should note that I had to confiscate one more placemat that said R.I.P. and had a picture of the Undertaker (professional wrestler). No more messages, Bennett. ;)

So! While all this was going down in the living room, I was helping the rest of the team & volunteers in the kitchen and dining room. That’s me, holding up a tomato.

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After cooking up a hearty tomato soup, packing up the sammich fixins, mixing, freezing, cutting & bagging the peanut butter rice krispie treats and putting together the salad, we were ready to go!

Lincoln Park Community Shelter is housed in the basement of Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church. 

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The kids hung out in the conference room and played games while we got busy in the kitchen.


We butterrmarginerenened a whole lotta bread . . . and yes, that’s what we called it. The word changed every time we said it. That’s me & Curt next to all the margereinereetterd bread.


Lacey checking an order to be sure she was making the right sammie. That’s Jenny behind her, you may recognize her as the first mate from the Chiditarod!


Royal modeling his apron, daydreaming of a weekend at Martha’s Vineyard, while Jessica stirs the soup. Royal kept us laughing all afternoon. 


Ana was our grill master – we served a few different versions of grilled cheese sandwiches. It was pretty awesome – the lunch guests all raved about the food. The sandwiches were a hit, the soup was complimented over and over, the salad was called a “perfect summer salad” and everyone was happy that we brought a dessert that wasn’t chocolate. Take note, Chicago – serve something besides chocolate once in a while, dang! (You are free to always serve me chocolate). Oh, we also served tasty lemon water and cucumber water.

kelli jenny salad Kelli and Jenny prepare salads . . . closeup below!

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Here’s another great mural in the dining room.


We didn’t take a lot of photos of the guests, we didn’t want them to feel as though they were on display for us. I do want to note that everyone was exceptionally nice and appreciative of the time we spent there and of the quality of the food. Lots of compliments, smiles and thank yous all around. I would LOVE to serve here again, and I really want to go back and learn more about what LCPS does for the community.

The staff at LCPS were so kind and let us take over their kitchen. They thanked us over and over. One of the guests was helping out in the kitchen when we first got there, she was cleaning out the refrigerator and needed some help cleaning up some water that had spilled on the very bottom of the fridge. I’m crazy short, so I said I would do it, but she refused immediately, and said, “You are already doing so much here. No way.” That felt great, and we were so happy to serve, but the most credit should go to the people who run the shelter and the guests who also give of their own time and energy to help keep the place in working order and good condition. All the guests were appreciative of the lunch we prepared and thanked us many times. One guest wrote a special note of thanks to us on her menu.


Big thanks to the High 5 Functions team for setting up the volunteer session at LPCS and organizing the day. And even more thanks for continually spreading the word to their friends, co-workers and community members that serving our community is a fun and worthwhile way to spend some time. If you’d like to keep updated about the interesting ways they’ve gotten involved in our community, follow along on Facebook!

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Random, but on the way home, we saw a wedding party up on the Fullerton el stop. Dunno if their ceremony was there, but they took pics there. Fun!

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Valerie said...

Absolutely wonderful!

Gotta love how kids brains work too.

eNVe said...

Awesome post, Ashley! You're an amazing mama!! Way to teach your kids about philanthropy at an early age! And wow, your kids are GROWN!!!! Holy cow! Seems like yesterday that I saw them, but that was over 2 yrs ago! *BIG HUGS* to you and your kiddos. Love u guys.

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