Give Back – Albany Park Community Center

Andy Carpenter


On October 9, SIM Partners took a trip to the Albany Park Community Center for our quarterly Give Back.

Albany Park is a neighborhood on the Northwest Side of Chicago and happens one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the country — more than 40 different languages are spoken among its residents. As a lot of these families are immigrants, the APCC exists to support them — and all residents of the neighborhood — as they strive toward the American dream with early education, after-school programs for kids up to age 12, and adult and continuing education programs.

Transparently, I was happy to introduce more people to the organization, as I’m fairly involved as well; I live in the neighborhood and am the chairman of their young professionals Associate Board. It’s a great cause that does a ton of good!

For our Give Back, each one of us were sent to a different classroom to assist with a project the kids and the center are working on to put together string art. With this kind of art, nails are hammered into wood boards in fun patterns, then strings and yarn are tied and strung throughout the pattern to create beautiful works of art. The art will be hung up throughout the center, and some of it auctioned off to raise money for the center.

In addition to helping the kids express themselves artistically and develop their motor skills (something our volunteers also seemed to need some development on 😉 ), the art is being used as a way to teach the kids about business and entrepreneurship. Casey Smagala, Development Director at the APCC, will be compiling information about the cost of the materials, the “cost” of the kids’ work, how much the art raises and other sorts of factors, then showing the kids how all of it adds up and contributes to businesses. Smagala says a lot of the kids’ families own or manage businesses, and the kids are always asking about aspects of it. He hopes that this inspires the kids to pursue their already entrepreneurial spirit!

All of us had a wonderful time with the kids, leaving invigorated by their energy and inspired by the mission of the center. It was a great way to Give Back, and we’re grateful for the opportunity!

Andy Carpenter

Author Andy Carpenter

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