Group Size: 2 student leaders, 8 participants
- Learn about urban poverty here in the Midwest.
- Spend time seeing the sights of the Windy City.
- Learn from, and live with full-time volunteers and discover the joys of a life dedicated to service.
The Amate House is a young adult volunteer program for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Each year, 30+ college graduates students and 10 undergraduates living at DePaul University devote a year to serving the poor of Chicago. These young adults live in community houses in the neighborhoods where they serve, spend 40+ hours a week performing critical tasks at financially strapped nonprofits, parishes, and schools in the city, and participate in a formation program that encourages them to understand and explore the link between Christian faith and service. The basic tenets of the Amate program are very similar to VISION’s, and include a dedication to community, faith formation and leadership development, service, social justice, and stewardship.
Homelessness—Chicago ranks fifth in the nation for segregation of poor families. In 117 Illinois municipalities less than 10 percent of the housing stock is affordable. With the worsening economy and the rise in the cost of living, homelessness continues to increase with them.
Education— Whether it be funding or graduation rates, inner city schools in Chicago are still very separate and unequal when statistics are examined. These schools which are underfunded and understaffed are typically primarily attended by minority race children, and are burdened to the point of sacrificing those children’s education.
Urban poverty— Chicago, America’s third largest city, is a case study in urban poverty. Chicago contains ten of the nation’s sixteen poorest neighborhoods. One half of all children in the city are considered poor. Amate House works to directly affect the lives of those who are poverty stricken and incite positive social change in the Windy City.
There is so much to experience in Chicago, it’s difficult to know where to begin—perhaps a viewing of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? You may catch an overview of the city from the Sears Tower Skydeck. City Tours will take you from major museums to Navy Pier, to other significant landmarks. Expect to see a lot of Chicago through both your work and recreation. The Amate House works hard to actively engage in as many neighborhoods as possible. Expect to eat the great triumvirate of Chicago foods—the Chicago style-pizza, the Chicago style-hot dog, and Italian beef.
A Sample Week:
Monday— Head to a school in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago to work with children in classrooms for the day. After school is done, spend some time playing games outside with the kids in the afternoon. Head back to Amate House to relax a little before dinner.
Tuesday— Today, work at assorted neighborhoods around the city. You may be in a school, at a soup kitchen, or working in a local hospital.
Wednesday—In the morning, head to Downtown Chicago to visit the museums, some of the best in the world.. Eat a bagged lunch. Work again around the city and finish up your project in the afternoon or visit a local school and spend the afternoon playing with children. Return for dinner and spend the night discussing the lives of the full-time volunteers as you share in the stories of their lives.
Thursday—Visit a local hospital where group members can serve the community by playing with local children or run through flash cards with a child in an impoverished neighborhood. Go back to Amate for a soup lunch and return to the hospital in the afternoon. Spend After dinner, share in conversation with your group discussing their lives and the justice issues of the region. Your reflection may involve a van trip for some Chicago Deep Dish pizza(!).
Friday— Be moved by the children who are already very sad to see you leave their classrooms, or those people you have visited the entire week in the hospital who already hate see you go.
Saturday— Wake up early and explore whatever nooks of the cities are left. Chicago has a variety of arts, it is the birthplace of improvisational comedy, and a wonderful music scene which your group can enjoy together before you head home.
Food, Lodging, and Travel:
The group will drive a 12-passenger van to Chicago and live and eat meals with the Amate full-time volunteer community. The group will stay in a large house run by Amate.
The trip fee of $375 includes van rental, site transportation, lodging, work materials for the site, meals, and programmed group activities. Additional expenses not included in the program fee, include: spending money for souvenirs as determined by the group agreement and food en route to site (~$30).
“The Chicago trip is all about diversity. There's a new service project almost every day of the trip; from working in assisted living homes to packaging food to helping out in a south-side school. Needless to say, Chicago is also very culturally and racially diverse, and this trip allows participants an opportunity to learn about the interconnectedness of poverty, racism and education in the inner-city. The Amate house in Chicago will always have a special place in my heart; I always felt so peaceful and at home there although its in the middle of all the energy, diversity and history that the big city has to offer.”
-Hanna Greimel (2010 Participant, 2011 Leader)