Making a Difference Through Paying It FWD

When I originally entered the corporate world after being a crisis center social worker, I kept up with volunteering in my personal time. Doing good for the community around me was such a big part of my heart, but I never felt like I had an outlet or platform in my workplace to give back or to help others. That all changed when I came to Solstice.

At Solstice, we have a Philanthropy committee aimed to support one of our core principles, ‘Make a Difference’. The committee does this by not only planning events and supporting organizations all year long, but they also have a special day where Solsties commit to volunteering together — Pay it FWD. On this day, Solsties from across the globe join forces to completely unplug and spend half of the day volunteering across their local communities.

For the past three years, Pay it FWD has been completely homegrown by Solsties. The day came alive this year by the power of 165 Solsties’ big hearts who volunteered 655 hours of their own time to giving back.

"The 6th graders still haven’t stopped raving about how much they loved the slime, the pizza, and the amazing volunteers. They absolutely loved their time with all of you and it was great to see the truly meaningful reactions you all had with the kids." –Liz, Volunteer Coordinator at Educational Alliance - New York

Here’s a recap of all the places we gave back during this year’s Pay it FWD! 🙌

Fundación Sí

In Buenos Aires, nineteen Solstie volunteers gathered at Fundación Sí to support one of their many projects based upon social inclusion and access for students who live far away from cities. The organization provides housing, food, and financial & academic support to high school graduates in order for them to more easily accomplish their goals! Volunteers helped paint and pack beds for one of these college residences in Mendoza.

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PAWS Chicago

Eleven Solsties volunteered at PAWS, learning about the association’s mission to bring an end to the killing of homeless cats and dogs. We gathered as a team to help move boxes containing adoption and medical documents in storage to make room for new documents and to help organize their facility. Afterwards, we got a tour of Kitty City and Dogtown to hang out with the shelter residents and have a bit of playtime with the animals. It was a small act to continue our relationship with this great organization and Solstice looks forward to continuing our relationship in years to come!

The Anti-Cruelty Society

A group of sixteen Solsties helped create cork toys, tug toys, and puzzle toys for dogs and cats at the Anti-Cruelty Society. The Anti-Cruelty Society’s mission is to find a home for every adoptable companion animal in need. So while the animals are in the shelter, the goals is to ensure that they are happy and have fun until their forever home becomes available. The workers were very grateful for the new animal toys Solsties created and in return the team got to play with the adorable cats and dogs.

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The Chicago Lighthouse

Five Solsties volunteers spent the afternoon conducting mock interviews with clients in the Employment Services Department at The Chicago Lighthouse — an organization serving the blind, visually impaired, disabled and Veteran communities. We had a great afternoon working one-on-one to provide useful feedback as their clients prepare for upcoming job interviews. The team is sending positive thoughts to all those they worked with as they take the next step in reaching their professional goals!

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital 

Solsties gathered at Lurie Children's Hospital, where they helped organize games and activities for the children in Outpatient Clinics and the Family Life Center. Solsties interacted and played with the kids, making the waiting room experience a little more enjoyable for them. Parents of the patients were grateful to see their children laughing and having fun, and our Solsties were honored to help put smiles on the children’s and parents’ faces.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Solsties gathered at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s headquarters where they helped write personalized thank you notes and sent t-shirts to individuals who contributed to their mission of finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. Our Solsties also put together goody bags for their upcoming Bourbon and Bacon event, as well as, cut out Beer mugs for solicitation of the new campaigns. The CFF was extremely appreciative for our help and graciously gave all of our volunteers t-shirts after the day ended.

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Horizons for Youth

Fifteen Solsties volunteered at Horizons For Youth, an organization that tutors students from kindergarten to college and prepares them for higher education. This group painted the basement of the school, which involved moving furniture, taping parts of the wall to ensure the correct parts were painted, and finally getting around to painting multiple coats. Solsties had a great time at Horizons for Youth and are excited for the students to have a newly painted classroom!

Lakeview Food Pantry

Solsties rode out to the Lakeview Pantry in Ravenswood to help organize their new food storage facility. While there, the team sorted food into individual bags, moved items from the cooler into trucks, and labeled products to ensure freshness upon delivery. The Pantry expressed gratitude around how efficiently the team worked together!

Open Books

Three Solsties partnered with Open Books by organizing inventory throughout the bookstore. This group also made labeling updates to the children's book sections. The manager at Open Books was pleased with the new presentation of the various areas, as he shared when we first arrived that he was hoping to make several sections a little more appealing (especially to the younger readers). Our Solsties were glad to be apart of this opportunity. They had such a good time that a few books were purchased after volunteering!

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Plant Chicago

Twelve Solsties volunteered at Plant Chicago picking up trash near the gardens, cleaning chicken coops, harvesting compost, pruning aquaponics growing plants, and learning what makes closed loop circular economy businesses so spectacular. This group is grateful for the hospitality shown by Plant Chicago and is looking forward to a return visit!

Alliance for the Great Lakes

Ten Solstie volunteers showed up at Montrose Dog Beach to support a full beach clean-up for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. This group swept the entire fenceline, picked up garbage side-by-side throughout the beach, and even dug up a buried garbage bin! At the end of the day, the team collected and recycled more than 25lbs of items. This dog beach doesn’t often get many events scheduled for clean up so this Solstice team was even more excited to volunteer and make an impact! 

St. Catherine — St. Lucy School

Solstice volunteers worked on a school-wide project with kindergarten and first graders, outlining the bodies of students on butcher paper and helping them decorate the outlines to look like them. The volunteers then cut out the figures and hung them around the school.  

Volunteers of America

Twelve folks went to Hope Manor II, one of the VOA’s affordable housing locations, and painted two of the tenants’ apartments. We arrived ready to paint and got right to it! Using paint brushes and rollers, we painted each tenant’s living room, kitchen, and bathroom making sure to lay down tarps as to not spill paint droplets all over the ground. Along the way, we discovered a few Picassos in the group and had a great time. The painting group finished painting the apartments right before the time cut off — three hours flew by! We all had such a good time and enjoyed meeting the tenants whose apartments we were painting and hearing their stories. The VOA’s mission is an easy one to buy into and support. Overall it was an extremely fulfilling experience and we look forward to next year!

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Tompkins Square Middle School

Twelve NYC volunteers teamed up with the Educational Alliance and the Boys and Girls Club of America to sponsor an afterschool event for Tompkins Square Middle School (TSMS). At least 59% of TSMS students are facing economic hardship and the program allows a fun, safe, and enriching experience for all. First, volunteers helped the students with their homework before sharing slices of pizza together. The highlight of the afternoon was a slime making activity that was filled with laughs and a lot of glitter. One of the students even said “I never want this to end!”

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