The Women and the Law Committee of the Illinois State Bar Association gathered together some of its members and friends recently in order to volunteer a day of service for the Women Everywhere: Partners In Service Project.
The Women Everywhere: Partners In Service Project (Women Everywhere) is a volunteer organization of men and women from the Chicago area legal community who have put together their efforts to solicit and coordinate volunteer activities which help women in need. The organization consists of the joint work of 14 bar associations who work together to plan and coordinate volunteer activities for the benefit of high school girls and women in need.
Women Everywhere organizes two annual volunteer projects (1) an Educational Program for high school girls who spend time with attorneys at the courthouse for tours, mock trials, and speakers, and (2) a Community Service Day where the volunteers work together on one specific day in approximately 30 different Chicago area women oriented agencies doing things such as painting, cleaning, gardening or educational instruction.
The Women Everywhere: Partners In Service Project’s Annual Agency Day service project this year was held on Friday, June 11, 2010. Volunteers from the Women and the Law Committee gave their time and energy to a local agency known as “Grace House.” Those volunteers from the Committee, Davit Batman, Sandra Crawford, Annemarie Kill, Mary Petruchius, Rachel Mercer, Letitia Sheats, Grace Mangieri and Janice Boback met first thing in the morning at Grace House, a halfway house in Chicago’s west side where the residents live in transition between prison and reentry into society.
The Committee members spent the day, along side several of the residents, cleaning the windows of this very well kept facility. Grace House residential program opened in 1994 and provides interim housing, emotional and spiritual support, and professional counseling to women who are being released from prison. The lovely renovated building can accommodate 18 residents, all of whom reside there voluntarily. Grace House offers a state-of-the-art computer lab, classrooms, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and a dining room.
As the committee members worked along side the residents that day, it became abundantly clear that Grace House was providing an important and very necessary service for these women. The residents were all respectful of each other, the directors, employees, staff as well as to their surroundings. There was pride in showing us around and in providing information about what goals and plans they had in place.
Grace House was very appreciative of Women Everywhere and the Women and the Law Committee for the efforts at assisting them that day and to show their appreciation the Committee was treated to a wonderful lunch prepared by their on-site cook in their dining room. It was another opportunity for those of us in the legal community to spend some one-on-one time as we enjoyed our lunch with the residents to talk on a more personal level about their future goals and all that is possible for women to achieve.
In past years, the volunteers have planted gardens, built playgrounds, painted waiting rooms, organized supply closets and provided cooking classes. Others have given seminars regarding Orders of Protection and Domestic Abuse. Anyone can volunteer by signing up individually or with a group or firm. The Women and the Law Committee has “adopted” Grace House as their agency to assist. By adopting this agency we provide all the supplies and woman (and sometime man) power to carry out the work that Grace House needs completed. It is coordinated between Grace House and the Committee as to what they need done and what supplies are necessary. This gives us the opportunity to see from year-to-year how Grace House has developed and improved each passing year. This year’s project was a great success and I must say that the volunteers all had a great time that day and I am hopeful that the committee will be returning to Grace House next year on the designated Service Day. I am encouraging all of you to join in and provide what time and energy you can to Grace House and join in the fun. ■