Making an impact
Hundreds pitched in to make this year’s Kellogg Cares volunteer event the largest to dateBy Sara Langen
10/27/2009 - Armed with a few simple wrenches, Will Chou ’10 and Alex Wasserman ’10 surveyed a dilapidated fleet of red and yellow tricycles lined up behind the Child Care Center of Evanston. From broken pedals to loose wheels, the tiny toys showed the rough wear and tear that only hard-playing preschoolers could inflict.
But the two volunteers were not daunted by their task — they had a goal in mind.
“We get to ride them around to test them out after we fix them up,” Chou laughed.
Wasserman and Chou were among 350 students, faculty, alumni, staff and family who turned out Oct. 17 for Kellogg Cares, the school’s high-impact community service day. Volunteers worked at 31 locations throughout Evanston and Chicago, helping local organizations with everything from landscaping to washing windows. It was the biggest turnout in the event’s six-year history, sponsored this year by Exxon Mobil.
Wasserman was inspired to sign up by a fellow Child Care Center volunteer: Harry Kraemer ’79, clinical professor of Management and Strategy.
“Professor Kraemer gets you to start thinking about what’s important to you,” Wasserman shared. “If you say things mean something to you but you don’t do anything about them, are they actually important to you? I decided to do this to help out.”
Kraemer and his 11-year-old daughter Diane spent the day cleaning out closets and pulling weeds at the center. Teaching future business leaders the importance of thinking beyond themselves is one of Kellogg’s key tenets, he said.
“An important part of what a leader does is not only focusing on their organization, but recognizing that we have a responsibility to the world overall,” Kraemer explained. “If you look around today, you see what can happen when people get together and say, ‘Let’s do something.’”
Looking beyond oneself is one of Kellogg’s core values, said Interim Dean Sunil Chopra at the kick-off event in the Jacob Center’s atrium.
“Whatever it is that you end up doing in your career, what matters is the contribution you make to the community you’re a part of,” he said. “Today is a great event that reminds us of what Kellogg stands for every day.”
It’s this emphasis on community service that drew Worapon Kitpreechawanich ’11 to Kellogg from Thailand. He spent Saturday sorting books and reorganizing the library at the Reba Early Learning Center in Evanston.
“Even though I’m from outside the country, I want to help out and be part of the community,” he said. “It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people.”
One of the volunteers he met was Farooq Muqeem ’11, who headed up window-cleaning efforts at the site.
“Even washing the windows, it seems like something so ordinary, but the people here don’t have time to do it, so it’s great to be able help them out,” said Muqeem. Knowing how surprised the kids will be when they return and find everything clean and organized made it worth the effort, he said: “That’s the fun part.”
For Chou, the fun part was riding the tricycles around after they were fixed, but the real reward was the feeling of community and the energy generated by so many people banding together to make a difference.
“This is the one time of the year everyone comes out together,” he said. “That’s what makes it great.”