“Because you’re breathing, right?” I was shocked. For a while, I had been training myself while at work to respond with, “Can’t complain” when people asked the standard “How are you doing?” question. Based on the reply from one of my coworkers and how he almost has the saying down, I’m breathing so I can’t complain, I guess I’ve been slipping.
I get varying responses when I say that. Some people agree while others make comments such as “Things are that bad? What’s wrong?” As noted, I say it all the time so in case things are less than enchanting I can still use the same saying and nothing is different. That still makes me think though... what if there WAS no reason to complain!
The overall goal of Cardz For Kidz is that we want our cards to show the recipients the brighter side of what’s inside. To let them know that they’re loved and cared for. Originally, I was just taking cards from coworkers and/or classmates and delivering them after my volunteer shifts. Now, years down the line, we’re trying to ship out over 10,000 cards a
month, so things have changed quite a lot. We’re working to recruit local groups to host behind-the-scenes card counting events. That’s much more effective than the early days when it was just Sherry and Lex counting cards and I would then ship them on my own.
Also, we’ve been working to host our own independent events on the weekend so volunteers can attend and help us reach people of all ages. We’ve been working for A WHILE on trying to find a place where we can host these bi-weekly events. We’ve reached out to bars/restaurants, schools, libraries, and more. Every time, they make it clear it'll cost us a lot and/or that we're being a burden. There was one time….No, can’t complain. I won’t share those details. Let’s just say I learned how things are for emerging nonprofits – they're often overlooked and receive less from community partners. That is, until we caught our lucky break!
We’re getting cards from across the globe, so we’re always looking for more groups here in Chicago to help us with the backend volunteering. I replied to one of the University of Michigan Club Greater Chicago (UMCGC) emails and asked them if they’d be interested in volunteering and they agreed. When I told them I didn’t have a location for us to host the event they said they would reach out to their contacts at Fatpour in Wicker Park since that’s the official University of Michigan bar. Turns out everything worked out and we held a successful event with those alum.
At the same time, prior locations of where we hosted our bi-weekly events began to fall through. One of them told us that they were short-staffed and couldn’t accept reservations, while others made it clear since we were not staff, we'd have to pay high fees. To be safe, I checked through the Alumni club, and we were able to reconnect with the team at Fatpour Wicker Park and they agreed we could host some of our bi-weekly events there.
It's been awesome. We have our own set area and we’ve been able to spread out and set up where we can get a variety of stations – card counting, proofing, and packaging.
In addition, not only are they letting use us this space, but they’ve also told some of the customers below about what we’re doing and invited them to come join in and help volunteer.
Another distinctive factor is their multi-tasking. Some employees attempt to check social media and/or send text messages when things are a bit slower. Our friends at Fatpour Wicker Park asked to help and had MULTIPLE employees help us make some cards in both English and Spanish.
To be honest, I was a bit confused. Seeing the scorn and/or lack of responses we received from the majority of bars, I didn’t fully understand why Fatpour Wicker Park is being so different. I checked with a couple key members and here’s some of their feedback:
Raquel, “Feels great to send love into the world. Sending good vibes.”
Christian, “Feels good to help out.” Made cards in Spanish.
Eddie, Manager, “Believe in the work you’re doing and it’s a great organization.”
These are the responses from a bar who had employees on duty filling in cards and directing customers over to us. This is a lot different from some of the other locations who were disappointed in us for not giving them enough money.
Who knows what will happen in the future, but I can say that I’m definitely impressed with their contributions so far. Due to our original connections with other locations, their assistance has been even more appreciated. We’re hoping things continue to grow, but we can say they’ve been POURING OUT SUPPORT in many ways and it’s running over.