Young adults strengthening the abilities of youth and families

CHICAGO, Illinois.- After weeks of planning, the culminating day of Youth Act’s arrived,  this Fall, in the form of a Thanksgiving dinner and celebration to benefit youth from various Youth Outreach Services sites, stretching from all over Chicago, accompanied with their own plus-one guest and site counselor representative.

 The cold chilly evening -with a few snowflakes drifting in the air- did not deter the 20 plus attendees in Chicago, Illinois from reaching the storefront of the Youth Outreach Services office on Irving Park Road, headquarters of a group of socially conscious young adults committed to deepening awareness and assisting transient community youth.

Participants write thank you cards (Photos by Kukoch)

The office works to “promote the strengths and abilities of youth and families by providing community-based services that empower and enrich each to face life’s challenges with confidence, competence and dignity”. The place was beaming with warmth literally and figuratively as you made your way to the transformed gathering area filled with charming festive fall decor.

Regardless of the face mask mandate requirements and lingering social distancing norms, the friendly faces of guests and volunteers were noticeable as people lovingly greeted each other.

 Eli, from Youth Act and coordinator of the event, with his pleasant and welcoming demeanor set the tone for the event. Among the dedicated Youth Act greeter team were Beth, Marfi, Marie, Vicki, and Myrna.

Some of the participants during dinner

All guests were invited to participate in the evening’s events consisting of a photo booth, coloring thanksgiving sheets, card making for a loved one station, and adding notes to the wall of gratitude, staffed by Elizabeth and Laura.

The space was filled with guests proudly clinging to their artwork and thoughtful creations. Marie made sure to keep the ambiance youthful with a joyfully hip music selection. Kukoch, the dinner’s official photographer, captured the candid moments with his camera and artistic eye.

Raffling off the Turkeys. To the right Elijah Ampo with a staff volunteer

Despite kitchen limitations and working under pressure Chef Ray from Isla Philipina and Youth Act volunteers: Lizzelle, Ephraim, Poy, Marie, Myrna, Beth, Marfi, and Vicki prepared and served an endlessly heartwarming feast of butternut squash soup, mixed spring salad, honey baked ham, turkey meatloaf with gravy, and other tasty sides.

After the hearty meal, participants were thrilled to win raffle prizes of turkeys, bountiful gift baskets, and chocolate goodie bags. Due to the generosity of the donors, especially Atrium Health and the Teresian Association, all guests were able to take home a bag of groceries and any leftovers from the sit-down dinner.

Youth Act volunteers

Countless unmentioned people also contributed to the overall success of turning November 18th into a memorable evening of being with family, friends, and loved ones.

The night undoubtedly was filled with reflections on gratitude as everyone was left in humble admiration of what was accomplished through everyone’s contribution.  (By Laura Pulido: a Master’s Student at University of Chicago -Urban Teacher Education Program).

Youth Act volunteers in white shirts with some guests