National Volunteer Week 2022

National Volunteer Week 2022

Volunteering from the heart

Volunteering is a noble act that often looks different for everyone. For some, volunteering at Cunningham means helping with our signature fundraising events like Festival of Quilts and the Kendall Gill Golf Benefit. For others, it might be organizing birthday boxes for youth, cleaning out a storage area or helping with mailings. No matter the task at hand, something our Cunningham volunteers all have in common is a heart to give back to their community and a desire to support the youth we serve.

This week, as we celebrate National Volunteer Week and recognize the contributions of our amazing volunteers, we say THANK YOU for making a difference in the lives of the youth at Cunningham.

For one special organization—Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's chapter—volunteering at Cunningham has made as much of an impact on their membership as it has on our youth. Over the past two and a half years, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, BAP members have actively supported Cunningham in a variety of ways. This past October alone, BAP members cheered on participants of our Be a Hero 5K, decorated and helped set up games and activities for Cunningham’s Halloween Party and made Halloween cards to spread some holiday spirit.

“Cunningham has offered Beta Alpha Psi many opportunities to help and get involved in the past few years,” Melanie, former Vice President of Philanthropy (2021), shared. “We have held countless events ranging from fundraisers to educating our members about Cunningham. Volunteering at Cunningham has truly been a great experience and allowed our members to give back to our own community.”

BAP began its affiliation with Cunningham in early 2020. One of its first events with Cunningham was creating Valentine’s Day cards for our youth and holding a Valentine’s Day bake sale fundraiser on campus. It was a great way for its members to start off the semester learning more about Cunningham and getting involved. Halfway through that Spring semester, however, the chapter’s activities came to a halt when students were sent home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the pandemic, BAP adapted and still found ways to give back to Cunningham and the next fall, increased its fundraising for the agency. Members created Halloween goodie bags for our youth and worked with one of their new corporate sponsors, Mowery and Schoenfeld, to help with their efforts. It was amazing to see the impact BAP could still make in helping Cunningham. And efforts have not slowed down.

The organization has continued to partner with corporate sponsors to help with their philanthropic endeavors like collecting duffle bags and filling them with hygiene products, flip flops and other items for Cunningham youth. They’ve also used their partnerships to help support our March Freshness and March Mattress campaigns.

“It has been a blessing to continue to strengthen our relationship with Cunningham over the past semesters and see our impact grow as pandemic restrictions have decreased and our ability to help out has only flourished,” Natalie, former BAP president, said. “We have continued involvement with multiple fundraisers each semester, donating necessities, creating cards and bags for the youth and volunteering on-site at campus and events. I am so proud of our chapter and members for their excitement and dedication to helping Cunningham, and I look forward to seeing what they will do next to help this fantastic organization.”

Even with a large membership of more than 60, every BAP member finds ways to give of their time and talent and have fun along the way. Using creative techniques and social media platforms, BAP has hosted fundraisers like “Dares for Donations,” where its board members agreed to do a dare when someone donated toward their goal. Some of these funny dares included taking a shot of pickle juice and dyeing one's beard red. Through this and other fundraising efforts, BAP has helped raise over $5,800 for Cunningham!

"During my first semester in BAP, my favorite philanthropy event was visited the Cunningham campus,” Sarah, BAP Director of Fundraising, said. “It was incredible to see exactly where our fundraising and philanthropic efforts were going to, which is part of what motivated me to become the Director of Fundraising for BAP. I loved having a key role in fundraising for such an amazing organization like Cunningham. It's great to see not only mine, but all of our efforts going towards helping a local organization."

BAP is a student group focused on business and entrepreneurship, and a team of its members are currently giving their talent in digital analytics to audit Cunningham’s social media and website.

“Working with Cunningham has been a special part of my time in BAP and I didn’t think twice about taking the opportunity to play a larger role with Cunningham as a service chair,” Kentaro, BAP Service Chair, said. “It’s extremely fulfilling to see BAP continuing its work with Cunningham from site visits to a small consulting project, which has especially been my favorite as I’ve had the chance to combine two of my passions: service and consulting. Finding passion is difficult and I’m happy to have found it working with Cunningham! I’m super excited to see what BAP does with Cunningham in the future!”

We are so grateful for BAP and ALL of our incredible volunteers.