By Deirdre Higgins White • BocaJump columnist
This is a different ENL experience, but it was happening in Elgin, and it was happening at night, so.…
If you have read my first BocaJump article, you would have seen that “my biggest complaint, in the not too distant past about the City of Elgin, was that there was no night life.” As you can tell every Friday, my point of view is dramatically changing! However, one thing that was truly impressive to me from the get-go was Elgin’s volunteer opportunities. Within a year of being here, I was a Big Sister with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Fox Valley (which sad to say, no longer exists on Chicago Street). Then fast forward a few more years and a few more volunteer opportunities, I was lead to Elgin Junior Service Board.
And does anyone know what Elgin Junior Service Board (ElginJSB.org) and the “Big Sister” portion of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Fox Valley have in common? Think…This is a 5 point question. The answer is that both of these organizations were born from the YWCA Elgin (ywcaelgin.org). And this leads me to my ENL experience. (Wow! That was a long introduction)
On a recent Friday night in Elgin, Cinderella’s Closet – a service project of JSB and the YW, were chosen by Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF) from Wahpeton/Wyndmere, North Dakota, to be the recipient of volunteer hours. This STLF group consisted of 40 high school students and 6 chaperones that volunteered in North Dakota on Monday, then on Tuesday, traveled by coach bus to Minnesota to do their thing. From there, the group journeyed to Wisconsin to support a few non-profits there, and then on Friday, they were up early giving back in Elgin. Then, at night, only to land on the door step of the YWCA Elgin to pay it forward to the YW and JSB with Cinderella’s Closet, a service project that provides prom dresses to the population of girls that would otherwise not have the means to get a dress for their prom.
The group’s task was to sort the dresses by size. They have already been sorted by color. Sounds easy enough, right? But there are thousands of dresses that are stored on dress racks in the pool (empty, of course!) of the YW…it is a sight to be seen! Crazy, but it works!
The STLF students, who were a mix of boys and girls, were a remarkable bunch of volunteers with the purpose in mind to pay it forward…and that they did. By the time they reached us on Friday night, they were exhausted! However, while working on the task at hand, these high school students were enthusiastic and genuinely seemed happy to be helping us. Some of them even tried on some gowns, and the boys were having fun with the bright pink, red and black feather boas! It was a miraculous night in Elgin. It keeps me grounded and secures my belief that complete strangers can be so kind, compassionate and giving.
Elgin has an amazing not-for-profit community. It is remarkable how individuals ban together to build a better tomorrow for all of those around us! If you are ever interested in volunteering in the Elgin community, but don’t know where to start - send me a message, and I will try to lead you in the right direction.
Remember, volunteering has its perks, too. Volunteers work hard. So as a reward, we go to Elgin restaurants to celebrate the successes of the day. But I won’t tell you where we went after this night…that’s another BocaJump article just waiting to happen…