AFTER TALKING WITH a friend about how to get their children involved in community and social issues, Evanston resident Meagan Newman discovered that it wasn’t easy to find volunteer opportunities that included her three kids. “My children were asking questions about homelessness, so we were looking for ways to have that conversation and also to show them that there was something they could do,” Newman says. Her research led her to The Honeycomb Project, which was founded by Kristina Lowenstein and Catherine Tannen, when they, too, were looking for volunteer opportunities that included the whole family. Newman got involved and is now on the organization’s board of directors.
Projects take just a few hours, and you can sign up for just one or regularly participate. “Families come from over 80 percent of Chicago-area ZIP codes,” Newman says. “The events are organized and well run, and many are small, so not only are you helping others; you’re getting to know families from outside your area.”
Newman, with husband Chris and their children, really enjoyed going to the National Veterans Art Museum to meet a veteran, write letters to deployed soldiers and ship donated Halloween candy overseas. Other favorite activities include making sleeping mats for the homeless and assembling craft kits for kids in hospitals. There are also outdoor activities and ones that involve preparing meals, but regardless of your family’s interest, the cost to participate is zero. “It’s important that the giving-back experience isn’t limited to just people of privilege,” Newman says. “We all feel anxious about so many things, but participating in a meaningful way really makes a difference in how your family feels about the big civic issues that face us all.”