Our volunteer of the month of February is Ariel Gans! We’d like to thank Ariel for all of her work, particularly her cooking and serving on weekends at The Living Room Cafe. We asked about her experience with the organization, her answers are below:
How did you hear about Inspiration Corporation?
In 8th grade at my school, the University of Chicago Laboratory School, each homeroom goes to The Living Room Cafe on the south side for one breakfast a year. It was so much fun, each of us got a table and we all felt so good afterwards. Our entire homeroom asked to get to do it again but we never got to.
What is the most enjoyable part of volunteering for you?
I love knowing people’s names, it makes me feel connected to the people there and that I’m a part of it.
What aspect of volunteering are you most excited about? What is the most challenging?
That’s hard! I got some of my friends into volunteering with me. Now they do shifts without me too! I’m so proud of that. I love knowing peoples’ names and serving drinks. Sometimes I still don’t know what to do for certain questions but my friend Henrine is a pro. The most challenging thing for me is prepping food in the kitchen. Byron and Greg are super helpful but there are so many steps and messing up could ruin everyone’s meal!
What is your volunteer background?
I’ve never done anything like The Living Room Cafe before. I usually do forest clearing projects, environmental types but for eight weeks for the past two summers I have volunteered as a camp counselor for three and four year old children.
Why do you volunteer?
At the beginning of the summer I remember being worried that I wouldn’t have anything to do so I went to The Living Room Cafe and signed up for a bunch of shifts. I did it for fun and my favorite is the Sunday Breakfasts. Every week Derek was surprised and asking me where my community service sheet was!
Describe one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had as a volunteer.
My most interesting experience actually happened on my first time when I was with my school. I have no idea what I did but at the table I was assigned to serve there was family of three, a husband, a wife, and their daughter. They were super happy and friendly which was really great to see but at the end the mother took me in the corner and asked to talk to me. I was definitely nervous and my teacher was worried but she told me about how hard her life was and how she got pregnant and had her daughter as a teenager. She told me that my future was bright and not to throw it away like she did. Honestly I was overwhelmed and a little shaken when she told me this but I was also, as I still am today, really inspired by it. I still remember it today and ever since I’ve looked for her and her family when I’m serving.
What are your hobbies, besides volunteering?
I love volleyball. I also dance and have a job at the Shedd Aquarium. At school my favorite of the clubs I’m in are Green Team, Science Team, and this event-planning club called Artsfest.