This morning, I had the privilege of attending Chicago Cares’ “Volunteurialism” Breakfast. Alongside West Monroe Partners’ President, Kevin McCarty, we ventured to the University Club of Chicago to hear Mayor Rahm Emanuel share ways in which companies can make a meaningful impact by engaging their employees in volunteer service. Overall, we were impressed by the Mayor’s message and challenge to those that were in attendance.
Personally, I thought that Mayor Emanuel had some really great points related to how the people of Chicago should serve the community, but the idea that stuck with me was about “sweat equity.” While I had never heard this term before, the concept is quite simple (and the term is quite common according to the Internet). It stresses that individuals should put forth a “physical effort” in terms of charitable contributions. For example, get out there and paint a school classroom, help build a park, clean a river; whatever the job, put some “sweat” into it. Mayor Emanuel reiterated that Chicago business leaders are great in terms of “checkbook charity” (or giving monetary donations), but need to focus more on promoting and demonstrating “sweat equity” as this is a great way to lead by example, especially when contributing our “sweat equity” to some of Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods.
Mayor Emanuel said that Chicago’s biggest challenge is to create a city-wide bond – one Chicago. He noted that we have all heard stories of children from impoverished neighborhoods who have never seen Lake Michigan, walked past the Willis Tower, or been to any of Chicago’s many museums. And while that is unfortunately true, his question to the audience was, “on the flip side, how many of you have been to their neighborhoods?” He challenged everyone to visit the many neighborhoods of Chicago that need our help and put some “sweat equity” in action. After all, if some children are unable to get to downtown Chicago to see what it has to offer, why not bring some of the great downtown offerings, like our charitable efforts, to them?
As a leader of West Monroe Partners’ Charity Committee, I know from experience that Chicago Cares is a great organization that helps companies figure out ways to build their “sweat equity.” Chicago Cares builds volunteer experiences that mobilize and inspire people to make Chicago a stronger community. We’ve supported their annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon for many years – and will be there again this June.
After a long Chicago winter, I think it is about time we get back to “sweating” – and Chicago Cares wants to help!
For more information about Chicago Cares, including their Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon on Saturday, June 7th – check out their website at http://www.chicagocares.org/. West Monroe Partners will be participating and we hope to see you there!