EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's Department of Athletics staff took a day out of the office Friday, May 31, to volunteer at many different locations around the Evanston community. While the Wildcat student-athletes spend many hours of their free time volunteering across the Chicagoland area, rare is the opportunity for our staff to shut down and make similar contributions. More than 100 NU staff gave their time Friday morning -- find out more about each place we went below!
Northwestern staffers aided the Master Gardener at Family Focus Evanston, located at 2010 Dewey Avenue, in preparing the organization's community garden for the summer with a variety of tasks. Family Focus serves children and their families through empowerment, believing in teaching families how to fish, not just offering them a fish dinner. They support children and their families so they can become more independent and empowered.
NU staff members aided in creating a composting area, building and erecting a lattice "vertical garden," removing unwanted weeds and trimming back some growth while planting new sunflowers and other varieties of flora for the upcoming growing season.
One of the sites the ¹Cats visited on Friday was the Child Care Center of Evanston, located on the corner of Emerson and Asbury streets, just west of downtown. The center recently received a grant through the CATCH program, which is designed to teach young kids about the countless benefits of physical activity and wellness.
CATCH is an acronym for Coordinated Approach To Child Health and the program covers children from preschool through eighth grade. On this particular morning, members of the NUDAR community worked with youngsters ranging from age 2-5. Northwestern¹s contingent arrived and broke into small teams to set up stations that would keep the students active and engaged throughout the morning. Soon, the youngsters and the staff at the center joined the participants from NUDAR. The activities ranged from basketball, to work with a colorful parachute, to playing leapfrog.
For much of the day it was difficult to tell who was having more fun, the children or the adults. It was a productive morning at the Child Care Center of Evanston in keeping the community¹s future happy and healthy.
Members of the NU academic services, athletic communications, athletic training marketing, development and equipment staffs spent the morning volunteering at the Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse (2101 Dempster, Evanston, Ill., 60201). The group of Wildcats helped clean items that were donated to the warehouse and will later be sold at a low cost to the community.
The mission of the Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse is to stop building materials from becoming waste in landfills by promoting sustainable deconstruction and renovation practices and then selling reclaimed materials at a low cost. Through education, job-training, membership and volunteering, ERW fosters individual, community and economic growth in Evanston and beyond.
The warehouse was filled with various items such as doors, lumber, sinks, bathtubs, chandeliers, ovens and even a few bidets. ERW owner Lou Dixson even mentioned that one of the bidets came from the house of a former Chicago Bears player (she wouldn't say which one) so for any collectors out there, you never know what you may find at the Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse!
The ERW is open to the public four days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Big Ten Women's Golf Coach of the Year Emily Fletcher surveyed the garden with its newly planted begonias, zinnias, salvias, marigolds and snapdragons, and couldn't help but smile, "This is looking good."
Fletcher led 10 other Wildcats as they pulled weeds, picked up garbage and dead twigs, and planted flowering perennials and annuals in various sections of the International Friendship Garden, a central part of Evanston's 23-acre Ladd Arboretum on 2024 McCormick Blvd. Most of the Northwestern Wildcats brought their own shovels, gloves and garden tools and got down on their knees as early as 9 a.m., unmindful of the summer-like heat of the sun as they volunteered their time and helped Shelley Peach, gardener of Rotary Club of Evanston, plant additional flowers and pull out weeds, mostly dandelions.
The Friendship Garden, already teeming with purple perennials and rose bushes, picked up more color splash from the marigolds, red begonias, yellow zinnias and pink salvias that the purple-clad Wildcats planted on the ground. Peach says bikers, runners, joggers, dog walkers, families and people from nearby towns enjoy the garden, especially when the flowers are in full bloom in July, Peach says. "And yes, even painting classes enjoy the garden," Peach says as she handed more begonias to Maria Sanchez, student-athlete academic advisor and team leader of the Wildcats assigned to help beautify the Friendship Garden.
The Rotary Club of Evanston planned and built the International Friendship Garden in the early 1960s "as a living symbol of goodwill toward all people of the earth." The Rotary Club maintains the garden and makes it available for all Evanstonians to enjoy, providing general upkeep and planting. As one of Evanston's leading charitable and service organizations, the Rotary Club of Evanston has provided countless hours of volunteer service and significant monetary support for a variety of local causes since it was founded in 1920. For more than 89 years, the club has divided its service to the community between hands-on, volunteer projects, and raising funds to help organizations and causes, including the International Friendship Garden.
Wildcats coaches, staff and administrators spent Friday morning at the Evanston Ecology Center at Ladd Arboretum. The Ecology Center strives to foster a greater appreciation, awareness and knowledge of the natural environment and our interdependence with it through educational programs and services.
The 'Cats in attendance worked hard to clear sections of overgrown terrain around the Center at 2024 McCormick Boulevard, while also getting a lesson in the plant life native to the area that is cultivated in gardens around the facility. Volunteers also helped re-plant one of the Center's four community gardens.
In addition to those four gardens, the Ecology Center staff oversee summer camp programs, canoeing on the North Shore Channel, programming at Lighthouse Park, natural history programs and City fishing access.
Northwestern coaches and staff attended all the morning Physical Education classes at both Orrington Elementary and Lincoln Elementary on Friday. Each class of youngsters enjoyed a variety of games. At Orrington, games of kickball with NU coaches and staff were highlighted by a towering home run from wrestling head coach Drew Pariano and stellar defensive play by the Northwestern staff.
Students at Lincoln participated in various stations testing and teaching athletic skills and prowess, organized and run by several members of NU coaching staffs. Field hockey assistant Ali Johnstone led the Northwestern efforts at Lincoln.
Orrington Elementary is located just blocks from Northwestern's campus, and Northwestern student-athletes frequently visit Orrington for Physical Education classes on Fridays and serve as mentors for the students. Lincoln is at Main and Forest in Evanston and has participated in many programs with NU Athletics including providing basketball ball kids.
Many Northwestern staff members stayed close to home, volunteering their time Friday morning at the NU branch of Campus Kitchens located in Allison Hall. The B1GCats staffers packed lunches for Sodexo's Feeding Our Future initiative.
Feeding Our Future® is a feeding program where Sodexo partners with community hunger relief organizations to provide meals to children in need who are out of school for the summer. This resourceful program donates food and labor necessary to provide summer meals to children who would otherwise go hungry.