A Fabulous Start to 2015

I am spending my J-term volunteering in the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter office. J-term, or January term, is a 3-week period in which students at Drake University have the option to take an extra class, visit another country, and more. I wanted to spend my J-term doing something ALS-related. I love volunteering with the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter and could not think of a more perfect way to spend my J-term!

I have been going into the Chapter office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I would like to go in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays too, but the Chapter already has an intern for the rest of the week. I am fine with this – like I always say, every little thing makes a difference in the fight against ALS/MND. Last Tuesday was quite a jam packed day. Only a few staff members were in the office, but it was wonderful to be reunited with each of them. The main task set for me on Tuesday was to pack up quilts that would be sent off to people with ALS (pALS) in Illinois. A wonderful company, Quilters Dream Batting, made quilts to help raise awareness of this disease. Isn’t that so wonderful? The Chicago Chapter previously sent out a first shipment to some ALS/MND warriors before the end of 2014, so I packed up the second shipment. There were 21 quilts that needed a new home. The quilts were stunning. Large ones, teensy ones, ones of all different colors. Quilt Dreamers Batting even attached little notes to each quilt – a very cute, personal touch! I am positive each quilt will make pALS in Illinois very warm and happy. The Chicago ALS Association provided a plethora of large envelopes and boxes to pack up each quilt. Some of the quilts were small enough to easily pack in large envelopes, but many were a little bigger. I had to get on the floor and wrestle some quilts into envelopes. I somehow managed to successfully pack up each quilt. A big thank you to Quilt Dreamers Batting for creating such beautiful pieces. I cannot wait until each pALS receives their new gift!

Thursday was another lovely day in the Chicago Chapter office. The weather, on the other hand, was brutal. I live near the Southside neighborhoods of Chicago, so I only have to walk outside for short periods of time. Even though I was not in the cold for long, I did not think I was going to make it. I had on several layers and I was still freezing! Thankfully, all of my limbs were still intact by the time I reached the office. Phew! Most of the staff were in the office on Thursday for a day-long meeting. This meant I worked on small projects on my own. I recorded donations, copied checks, filled folders, etc. It was very quiet and peaceful; I could really focus on each project! The 2014 newsletter for the Chicago Chapter recently arrived in the office and it looked gorgeous. I loved looking through each page; the newsletter really captured the memories we made together in 2014. I finished plenty of work, but since the weather was becoming severe, I had to leave earlier than planned. There were a few projects I did not get to, so I will finish them this Tuesday. I am very excited to continue volunteering in the Chicago Chapter office this week!

Assisting with office work for the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter reminds me of some of the ideas I have for this year. Unfortunately, I may not be going forward with my blanket project. My initial plan was to collect blanket material, work with young students in my area to make the blankets and give them to pALS in Illinois. Quilters Dream Batting is already giving quilts to pALS in the state. I may still do it for Iowa or Indiana. I will have to check with the chapters in these states to see if a project like this is already going on before I proceed. I am also hoping to start a teen advisory board in Illinois. I think it will be a wonderful way to get more teens in the state involved in the fight against ALS/MND. My wish is to move forward with this idea within the next few months!

It has been a very exciting start to the year. I am sad to start 2015 without Dr. McLaren at my side, but will continue to fight for a cure in his memory. Here’s to a successful year of fighting ALS/MND!

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