Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Starting Your Own Non-Profit

As an investment banker for two years in NY, I had relatively little free time outside of work and keeping in touch with friends. In the few hours I did have on the occasional Saturday, I enjoyed volunteering through New YorkCares (Chicago friends can check out Chicago Cares). I had the opportunity to help out with a variety of activities that were often one-time commitments ranging from tutoring math and science skills, creating art projects with autistic students, and engaging in recreational activities with children with disabilities.

One of my favorite activities that I participated in more regularly was attending workouts with Achilles International because not only was I able to combine my passion for running with volunteering, but I also gained an appreciation for the positive perspectives on life in the face of hardships and challenges that individuals with disabilities faced.
The mission of Achilles International is to enable people with all types of disabilities (including amputation, cerebral palsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, organ transplants, paraplegia, stroke, traumatic brain injury and vision impairment) to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhance self-esteem, and lower barriers to living a fulfilling life. I first became interested in helping people with disabilities after taking the biomedical engineering design course, "Devices for People with Disabilities” class my senior year in college. After enjoying my volunteer experiences with the New York chapter of Achilles International, I was disappointed when I found out that there was no chapter in Chicago. After contacting the national organization, I was able to gather a few other people interested in starting a chapter in Chicago, and I’m happy to announce that we are on track to launch the new chapter of Achilles Chicago this spring. If you’re interested in participating or getting involved, feel free to reach out to us at Achilles.chicago@gmail.com. I promise it will be a very rewarding and inspirational experience training and running marathons with Achilles members!

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