This blog post has been provided by Tamara Draper, Senior Account Executive at Accuity, Inc. Nearly 30 years ago, Draper and her children stayed at the Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge for a short period of time. She has spent the past 27 years giving back and supporting The Salvation Army.
Thirty years ago my children and I spent some time at The Salvation Army’s Evangeline Booth Lodge. I had been through a divorce that left us homeless. I was too humiliated to tell my family and to ask others for help, so we started living out of my car. Thankfully a friend stepped in and made some calls on my behalf, and after three days, someone from the Army showed up and took us in. Within a month, they provided some financial help that allowed us to find an apartment and start over.
When we were in a position to do so, we started to give back to the Lodge. Every year my children and I volunteered the day before Thanksgiving prepping and cooking the meal, and cleaning for the residents. We did this for many years. I also donated items to The Salvation Army Thrift Shops. Three decades later I still call them to pick up items. When my income increased, once a year I would purchase large Rubbermaid containers and fill them with items a person would need once they were ready to leave the Lodge.
Then as God would have it, I became the president of Accuity’s community service committee, Accuity In Action (AIA). AIA is an employee-run program dedicated to supporting local community organizations through volunteerism, fundraising and donations. Our committee connects Accuity employees with volunteer opportunities for local non for profit organizations. I liaise with potential volunteer partners, develop and implement fundraising programs, and manage volunteer events.
Accuity covers numerous areas in volunteerism including seniors; veterans; social justice; at-risk, abused and neglected youth; homeless teens; and anti-trafficking.
In my position, I’ve connected AIA volunteers with The Salvation Army to work at the annual Christmas Radiothon and undertake various projects at different corps community centers.
At The Salvation Army, our AIA volunteers have also:
- Made rescue bags for clients in the STOP-IT program. These bags include everything a person needs to leave the streets.
- Supplied personal care items and held a fundraiser for the Evangeline Booth Lodge. Also hosted a program to provide hope and encouragement for young mothers looking to start over.
- Provided $10,000 to build the computer lab at Evangeline Booth Lodge.
- Host an annual drive providing more than 1,500 pounds of food, personal care items and toys for the Evanston Corps Community Center.
- Support after-school programs and chaperone field trips.
Needless to say The Salvation Army has a special place in my heart.
In addition to The Salvation Army, Accuity has supported more than 30 organizations including Youth Services of Glenview, Talking Farm, Random Acts of Flowers, My Block, My Hood My City, Dress for Success, Feed My Starving Children, and Evanston Soup Kitchen, and many more. AIA also gives back by providing generous donations. During the 2017 Toy and Food Collection Holiday drive, we collected 213 toys and 2,755 pounds of food/personal items for donation to four different charities.
By volunteering our time, monetary and gift contributions, Accuity truly makes a difference in the lives of so many people. It is because of the hard work, dedication, and time commitment of the committee members and volunteers that Accuity in Action is able to make a significant, noticeable impact in our community. These efforts have not gone unrecognized. AIA was recognized as Team of the Year in the Reed Elsevier “Recognizing Those Who Care Awards” four years in a row. In 2014, AIA was awarded $10,000 which was used to build the children’s computer lab in The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge.