Skip to content

October Senior Corps-RSVP Spotlight on Service

2016 October 21
Comments Off on October Senior Corps-RSVP Spotlight on Service
by HandsOn Suburban Chicago

Community Paint-a-Thon team find painting homes rewarding despite the long hours.

You could call Larry Reinhardt, Deb Lester and Steve Gonczy the Paint-a-Thon “honey-do” people. Every September, their team of 25 to 30 volunteers, take on the daunting task of restoring the exterior of an older or disabled homeowner’s residence enabling them to live independently, and with dignity in their community. This team is one of 22 teams that painted a total of 24 homes for this year’s 29th annual Community Paint-a-Thon. Individuals that qualify to have their home painted are homeowners with limited financial resources who are at least 60 years of age, or have a permanent disability, or a Veteran, making them unable to do the work themselves.
Steve, Larry and Deb are some of the more than 75 Senior Corps-RSVP members that participated in this year’s Paint-a-Thon. Their energy and enthusiasm are evident as they relate their experiences working with St. Raymond’s Paint-a-Thon team based in Mount Prospect. They have been working on homes in the northwest suburbs for more than ten years and each year look forward to getting together, knowing all the effort required to return a house to beautiful condition.
“It’s fun to reconnect,” Deb said. “We pray for good weather and most of the time get it.”
One would think that, with so many hands, the job should take only a couple of days. Not quite. Preparation alone can take as many as four days, while painting is done in about nine hours.
“We put in a total of 150 to 250 hours of volunteer time,” Steve said. “Two-thirds of that is in the preparation. We start by power washing, then we scrape, sand, wire brush and fill in any holes. After that, it’s finally ready for the primer and the painting.”
Paint-a-Thon volunteers have replaced window foundations, wood for railings and decks. The paint is donated by Valspar, additional paint supplies are also donated and some equipment is kept year to year to re-use.
People with limited finances who need exterior painting and repair work on their homes may start applying in April. Catholic Charities reviews all applications to determine eligibility. Annette Sommer, Manager of Client Services for HandsOn Suburban Chicago recruits all the volunteer teams. Teams of painters come from several area corporations, local church groups, high school youth groups, and community- minded individuals. Once it’s determined that a homeowner qualifies, an inspector will assess the preparation and repairs required. Detailed notes are provided to each team with the number of gallons of paint and additional equipment needed.
After the Paint-a-Thon team members are assigned a home they make decisions on the best way to distribute the work load. In September, following Labor Day, work begins. The volunteers show up at 8:30 a.m. with scraping tools, power wash equipment, paints, brushes and whatever else is needed to get the job done. A typical day ends at 3:00 p.m.
But as every homeowner knows, very few projects proceed without a hitch somewhere along the line. As work progresses, sometimes the project’s estimated time goes beyond the original estimate, due to unforeseen issues.
“About every third one is a bear,” Larry laughed. “We did repair work on a deck. Had a lot of rotted wood; then we have to watch for wasp and bee nests; one had lots of ants near the garage.”
“Sometimes when we do the power washing it can go right through the wood,” Steve said. “We use lots of wood filler; one house had rusted out steel gutters.”
Older team members are aware of their limitations. “Larry was a real trouper dealing with the gutters,” Deb said. “But ladder work is challenging; we try to leave it to the younger guys.”
In all the years the team has been with Paint-a-Thon, they’ve never had an accident. Prior to starting a job, new volunteers attend a safety training.
All agreed the rewards are worth it and that’s what keeps them volunteering year after year. One of the bonuses—meeting interesting people.
“I got to know one client when I was painting the inside of her front door. We talked for three hours,” Deb said. “She was from the Philippines. She still sends me Christmas cards.”
According to Annette Sommer, once a job is completed a survey is sent to the homeowners to learn if they were satisfied with the work of the team and if there were any issues regarding the painting project.
“We get about 90 percent of the homeowners to respond. They’re always satisfied,” she said. “The volunteers are great. Seniors, adults and youth all work together.”
In the past 29 years Community Paint-a-Thon volunteers have painted 814 homes, with the help of 16,747 volunteers using approximately 15,190 gallons of paint. This major accomplishment has been completed by volunteer teams like this one who care about their communities and neighbors.


Other Links for Opportunities to Help Your Neighbor:
Yard Work, Center of Concern, Park Ridge
Food Donations, Northwest Compass, Mount Prospect
Senior Transportation Driver, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Maine Township
Window Washing, Center of Concern, Maine Township
Home Delivered Meals, Meals at Home, Evanston and North Shore


After all the preparation work, Senior Corps-RSVP Community Paint-a-Thon volunteers begin the final step. With so many hands, the job of painting usually takes only one day.



29th Annual Community Paint-a-Thon

2016 October 5
Comments Off on 29th Annual Community Paint-a-Thon
by HandsOn Suburban Chicago

Community Paint-A-Thon is a unique community partnership designed to paint the extericoor of homes owned and occupied by persons with limited financial resources who are at least 60 years of age or have a permanent disability making them unable to do the work themselves. The goal of this program is to provide dignity to the homeowner and enable them to live independently in their community by restoring the outside of their home. HandsOn Suburban Chicago is a member of the steering committee comprised of other area nonprofits and corporations that meet to plan and execute the program each year. Each home project entails not only painting the exterior of the home, but also all the prep work; which can take as much or more time than the actual painting. Prep work that can be required: scraping, sanding, caulking, priming and landscaping prior to being able to paint the home, all of which is the responsibility of the team assigned to the home. Many teams go above and beyond by planting flowers & bulbs, painting or providing new yard furniture, fixing & painting mail boxes and building planter boxes.

As a 9/11 Day of Service, 21 Community Paint-A-Thon teams comprised of 410 volunteers painted a total of 24 homes. Teams that participated came from area corporations, high school youth groups, local church groups, and community groups as well as individuals; all who were interested in being a part of this vital community restoration and beautification program, enabling seniors, the disabled and veterans to remain in their homes.

In the past 29 years Community Paint-A-Thon volunteers have painted 814 homes, with the help of 16,747 volunteers and using approx. 15,190 gallons of paint.  This major accomplishment has been completed by volunteers caring about their communities and neighbors.

This year there were two new teams – Kingswood United Methodist Church of Buffalo Grove and St. Peter Lutheran Church of Arlington Heights that joined the retuning 19 teams – many of them have been participating with the program for over 20 years.

So many of the teams who participate in the Community Paint-A-Thon take ownership of their assigned home project and go well Above and Beyond in helping to make a positive experience for both the homeowner and all the wonderful volunteers.coo

One of our returning teams has once again gone well Above and Beyond the traditional scope of this painting project. Glenbrook South High School Interact Club, under the direction of their teachers/team leaders made a huge transformation of the home they were assigned to paint.  The team made repairs to a broken overhead garage so that it would now be able to close and lock, purchased and installed a brand new screen door, added new locks and outdoor lighting (including solar lights around the front and back yards) – all of these extras provided security for the homeowner they otherwise could not afford. Their team leader, Mark Gallagher, worked with a local Home Deport to provide some of the funds to cover the costs of the supplies, while the remaining funds were raised by the students, all to spruce up the home.  The team worked tirelessly to clean the yard (collecting over 10 bags of yard waste) mowed the overgrown yard, added new mulch around the evergreens and added flowers, giving the house a beautiful new look to the exterior.cooo


Many thanks all the AWESOME teams who helped to make the 29th Annual Community Paint-A-thon an OUTSTANDING day of service!

Volunteering sparks lasting friendships for ladies at Shelter Thrift Shop in Schaumburg

2016 September 26
Comments Off on Volunteering sparks lasting friendships for ladies at Shelter Thrift Shop in Schaumburg
by HandsOn Suburban Chicago


It’s only a few more days before the Shelter Thrift Shop in Schaumburg will close for good. On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-September a special group of volunteers is sorting and pricing the last several donations in anticipation of the shop’s final sale. In spite of the sadness at seeing the shop shut its doors, they’re taking time to celebrate a birthday, look through the shop’s commemorative scrapbook, and talk about their experiences.

Linda Ciosek has been volunteering at the shop for sixteen years. Before that she worked as a school secretary. “The comradery, laughter, and sharing has been very enriching,” she said. “Pat, our manager is amazing with the staff and customers. We brainstorm ways to help keep the shop going; we feel invested in it. There are so many needy families. We provide toys and clothes.”

Carmella, formerly a nurse, said her best experienc thumbnail_shelter-volunteerse is “meeting every single one of these ladies; they’re incredible. I wish there was another word to describe them.” She still uses her nursing skills to help her neighbors. After the shop closes she declared, “I will do whatever I can do. I work with seniors, take them to the doctor.”

When Tisha Schumacher, a former law office manager, moved out to the suburbs to be closer to her daughter, her sister Georgeann Cartina introduced her to the shop. “People are friendly,” she said. “Even the customers.” Working in the shop gives her a chance to get out and now she’s thinking of volunteering at one of the local hospitals.

And speaking of Georgeann, she too, echoes what her sister has said. A former hairdresser for many years, she enjoys working with people. “The Wednesday group is fantastic. Pat is awesome.”

Carol Pawlowski says the Wednesday group is a great family. “It’s my therapy day,” she laughed. She will continue to volunteer at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at St Marcelline Catholic Church in Schaumburg.

A team member who happened to be absent that day is Alice Wahlquist. All the ladies wanted to be certain her name was mentioned. “She’s positive, encouraging and truly cares about supporting the store,” one volunteer said and all agreed.

Pat Cinquini, the store manager, will miss all her workers. “They’re so dedicated to helping abused kids. They come in here, see what has to be done and do it. I came here to work for two months and stayed two years. It will be so hard to say goodbye to them. They’re everything you would want in a volunteer.”

Shelter provides emergency housing for abused and neglected children, parents with drug dependency, domestic abuse, and so much more. Mary Green is the volunteer coordinator and has been with Shelter less than a year. “Sometimes we have to pick up children in the middle of the night,” she explained. “They may leave their home with only the clothes on their back.”

Shelter, Inc. still has opportunities for those who wish to volunteer and contribute to the valuable services Shelter offers. “We have a golf outing, a 5K race and a charity ball for those who wish to help with events. Now they are gearing up for Christmas and donations will be needed for children’s toys and clothing.

Although the ladies will miss seeing each other and working together on Wednesdays, they are already planning monthly gatherings to keep in touch. Another perk for those who volunteer—the opportunity to form lifelong friendships.thumbnail_senior-corps-rsvp-shelter-volunteeers


These dedicated volunteers have been meeting at the Shelter Inc. Thrift Shop every Wednesday to sort and price merchandise, but also catch up on each other’s news and give support when needed. Left to right: Carol Pawlowski, Tisha Schumacher, Carmella Squeo, Linda Ciosek and Georgeann Cartina. Not pictured, but important part of the team: Alice Wahlquist.


Senior Corps-RSVP thanks the entire group of Shelter Thrift Shops volunteers for their years of service and dedication to Shelter, Inc.


Other opportunities to make new friends and create long time friendships:


Annie’s Resale for the World, Rolling Meadows

Palatine Nest Thrift Shop, Palatine

Once and Again Boutique, Des Plaines

Wings Logistic Center, Elk Grove Village



Senior Corps-RSVP Members Celebrated at Boomers Stadium

2016 September 20
Comments Off on Senior Corps-RSVP Members Celebrated at Boomers Stadium
by HandsOn Suburban Chicago

August 10, 2016

The skies were blue and sunny – a perfect summer day for baseball. The heat did cause a few members to reconsider joining us, but for those who attended Senior Corp-RSVP Day at Boomers Stadium some new friendships were made and a good time was had by all.

A big “Thank You!” to our corporate volunteer team from United Healthcare (UHC). The 11-person team from UHC engaged with our Senior Corps volunteers and their friends and family. The team handed out tickets and name badges to the attendees, greeted them as they exited the elevators or stairways and escorted them to our reserved seating areas.

Congratulations to our three raffle winners: Ron Carlow, Pat Fadz, and Ted Peloquin. Thank you to Craig Powers, Senior Corps-RSVP member, chosen to throw out the first pitch of the game.

Please enjoy the collage of pictures from the event:


Click here if you would like to sign up or learn more about the Senior Corps-RSVP program.


Senior Corps—Champions of Service for a New Era

2016 September 12
Comments Off on Senior Corps—Champions of Service for a New Era

Senior Corps members, partners and leaders recently met in Reston, Virginia to celebrate 45 years of service to communities across America. Over 250 Senior Corps leaders, supporters and members gathered to learn and exchange ideas on how to continue to be responsive and relevant to the people and to the communities in which we serve. As leaders proudly shared the stories of the impact of the service Senior Corp members gave to their communities, we listened in amazement. We celebrated the extraordinary achievements and passion of Senior Corps members who serve in food pantries or thrift shops, deliver critical transportation services or meals at home, make welcomed reassurance calls or serve in disaster recovery functions or work with children. There was an inexhaustible list of ways those over 55 were positively contributing to the welfare of communities across this nation.
The meeting in Virginia heralded Senior Corps members as “Champions of Service for a New Era” and no better example of that than 106 year old Virginia McLaurin, the grandmother, who in February, danced with President Barack and First Lady, Michelle Obama. Virginia spoke to her fellow “Champions” at the meeting regaling the value of volunteerism and passion for service. Virginia’s commitment to service has been passed on to her granddaughter, who was also in attendance. So, with thunderous applause and ovation, fellow Champions acknowledged their achievement of becoming the first grandmother and granddaughter to jointly serve in a Senior Corps program!


Carolyn Roberts (middle), Project Director-Senior Corps-RSVP Program for HandsOn Suburban Chicago with Virginia McLaurin and her granddaughter.

President Obama wrote a letter to each of the Senior Corps members of the nation. He stated:

America is what it is because we built it together. With collective effort and in common purpose, generations have endeavored to enrich their communities and our country, adding their voices to a tradition of civic engagement that has guided us since our Nation’s founding. The America we know today was shaped by the contributions of people of all ages from a multitude of origins, and we are joined together by a belief in the enduring power of our country’s promise.

As Senior Corps volunteers, you have helped carry forward this legacy and set a powerful example of service- one that can have a tremendous impact on the lives of those around you and inspire others to step forward to serve. In your dedication, we see the spirit of shared purpose- the understanding that we are all bound to one another – that is at the core of our national character.

As you gather from across our country to reflect on the difference you are making, know you have the deep appreciation of a proud and grateful President.

What an exciting time to be a part of Senior Corps. Join today to see how you can be a part of this national movement.

Become a Lunch Buddy or CHiL Tutor this fall!

2016 August 24
Comments Off on Become a Lunch Buddy or CHiL Tutor this fall!
by HandsOn Suburban Chicago

We need you to help better our schools. Become a Lunch Buddy or CHiL Tutor this fall.

To kick off the new school year right, HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC) has teamed up with area schools to manage Lunch Buddies and CHiL—community-based tutoring programs that provide students with the academic support they need to succeed.

Lunch Buddies launched last year at Jane Addams Elementary School in Palatine. The lunchtime program will focus on strengthening the foundational math and reading skills of students in grades 4, 5, and 6. The program will also expand to serve 3rd graders at Plainfield Elementary School in Des Plaines. The tutors at Plainfield will enjoy lunch and read with small groups of students to foster their literacy development. What could be a more pleasant way to support a child’s academic growth?

CHiL (Cooper, Holmes, and London) supports the afterschool tutoring programs that take place at Cooper Middle School in Buffalo Grove, Holmes Middle School in Wheeling, and Jack London Middle School in Wheeling. This program prepares students in grades 6, 7, and 8 for high school by offering them homework assistance and various enrichment activities. Teachers with students enrolled in CHiL consistently report increases in grades, classroom engagement, and homework completion rates. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 67% of CHiL participants improved their reading grades and 48% of them upped their math grades. Outcomes like these would not be possible without the help of dedicated community members.

HOSC is looking for individuals who value education and want to get involved in a meaningful way. We need folks like you. We need you to contribute your talents and just an hour of your week to help students realize their own potential.

Lunch Buddies are needed on:

* Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm at Jane Addams Elementary School in Palatine

* Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:10 pm to 1:00 pm at Plainfield Elementary School

CHiL Tutors are needed on:

* Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 pm at Cooper Middle School, Buffalo Grove

* Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm at Holmes Middle School, Wheeling

* Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:15 pm at Jack London Middle School, Wheeling

At most schools, fall session will begin in September and go through mid-December 2016. Session 2 restarts in January. Further program details and a link to our application can be found here.

HandsOn Suburban Chicago Featured in Daily Herald Posts

2016 August 4
Comments Off on HandsOn Suburban Chicago Featured in Daily Herald Posts

HandsOn Suburban Chicago was recently featured in two posts on the Daily Herald website. Follow the links below to learn more about the organization and the amazing volunteers working to improve our community:

7/25/2016 – HandsOn Suburban Chicago links volunteers with those in need

It all started in a box.

In the 1960’s, local activist Lois Moore began filling a recipe box with the names of friends and neighbors who were interested in volunteering, but unsure of where to go.

As that box began to overflow, Moore worked with the Arlington Heights Clergy Fellowship to found the Volunteer Service Bureau of Northwest Cook County, a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities.


7/25/2016 – A closer look at people who volunteer

Seven Senior Corps-RSVP members were given special recognition in April at the HandsOn Suburban Chicago Celebration of Service breakfast at the Metropolis in Arlington Heights.


A volunteer works on a bench during a Make a Difference Day event at Jane Addams Elementary School.Photo Credit: Joe Lewnard | Daily Herald Staff Photographer October 2015


HandsOn Suburban Chicago Appoints New Executive Director and New Project Director of Senior-Corp RSVP Programs

2016 June 28
Comments Off on HandsOn Suburban Chicago Appoints New Executive Director and New Project Director of Senior-Corp RSVP Programs

Arlington Heights, IL – HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC) is pleased to announce today that Jordan Friedman, MSW has joined the organization as Executive Director. Jordan fills the vacancy created in December by Chris Smith’s retirement. Jordan comes to HOSC with 28 years of experience within the nonprofit sector, including executive expertise in leadership, operations management, and expanding organizational capacity.

Jordan’s resume includes over 10 years of strategic planning, fund development, advocacy and communications in the nonprofit sector. Prior to his executive leadership roles, he served as a Senior Social Worker for Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.  As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jordan was appointed as adjunct clinical faculty at the University Of Washington Graduate School Of Social Work, and has served as a board member of several local nonprofit organizations. Before to coming to HOSC Jordan was Director for the Family Focus/Family Network Center in Highland Park, IL. Jordan is excited to be a part of HOSC and looks forward to working with its staff, volunteers and community partners.

Additionally, HOSC is happy to announce that Carolyn Roberts as its new Senior-Corp RSVP Project Director. Carolyn brings with her 20+ years of experience in the corporate arena leading high performance teams and projects in the Chemical, Telecommunications, Retail and Food Service industries. Originally, from the East Coast, Carolyn has been a Chicagoland resident for a little over 20 years and has a deep passion to use her skills to make a positive impact on the lives of others.


About HandsOn Suburban Chicago

HandsOn Suburban Chicago has been a vital part of the community for 47 years, building the capacity of over 200 nonprofit agencies and engaging 5000+ volunteers every year. By collaborating with these organizations, HOSC provides them with the tools they need to effectively utilize their volunteers to sustain their mission.

HOSC’s mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to volunteer and take action that builds vibrant and prosperous communities. To learn more about how you can get involved in your community visit:

Contact: Benjamin Carr

Phone: 847.228.1320