Summer Volunteers at The Commons

This summer, SWF welcomed 300 volunteers from PPM America to The Commons for weekly volunteer days in partnership with Chicago Cares. Throughout June and July, more than 25 volunteers visited The Commons each week for a 2-hour intensive volunteer experience. The Sweet Water and PPM America teams developed a consistent relationship and an emerging partnership over the summer and successfully worked on new and old projects at The Commons.  Read on to learn about the experience.


Developing a New Relationship

Summer at The Commons is a busy time of year. Hundreds of people from across the City of Chicago and beyond visit each week for tours, hands-on experiences, and to learn about SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development. In addition to a steady stream of visitors, SWF hosted weekly volunteers from PPM America, a financial company in Chicago that is part of a global organization. SWF’s connection to PPM America originated this past winter when Vora Williams, a local resident, and member of the SWF family, connected SWF to Chicago Cares. Vora serves a Community Coordinator with Chicago Cares, a role in which she pairs up organizations like SWF with corporate volunteer groups. When an opportunity arose, SWF and Chicago Cares worked together to plan weekly volunteer days with PPM America, headquartered in Chicago. 

300 Volunteers in Two Months

Each week, SWF welcomed 25 - 45 new volunteers from PPM America for 2 hours of collaborative work at The Commons. Each experience began with a brief introduction to SWF and the team followed by volunteers engaging in a wide range of activities (weeding, laying wood chips, sanding, deconstruction, etc) that gave them an opportunity to reconnect and reorient with each other and with the Earth. After getting their hands in the soil, the groups toured The Commons to learn more about Sweet Water Foundation. Volunteers interacted with the SWF core team, Urban Ecology Apprentices, Fellows, Humans-In-Residence, visitors, and each other. 

Volunteers also worked alongside the SWF team to construct a hoop house on SWF’s Community Farm. This is the first year SWF will have a hoop house, which will allow SWF to experiment with year-round growing.  

SWF extends its gratitude to each volunteer from PPM America that took the time to volunteer at The Commons and hopes to continue the relationship with Chicago Cares and PPM America in the future. Check out the images below to see the PPM America volunteers in action.

Courtney Hug