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HandsOn Suburban Chicago

Linked Local Network - HandsOn Suburban Chicago
Who We Are:

Our staff is made up of a mix of paid employees, skilled volunteers, and Americorps VISTAs who believe that every single person has the potential to make a positive impact on their community. Staff members who are a part of Americorps’ Volunteers in Service to America program (VISTA) serve our main office and our member agencies by fulfilling capacity-building roles.

What We Do:

HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC) was founded in 1969 has a mission to “inspire, equip and mobilize people to volunteer and take action that builds vibrant and prosperous communities”. HOSC primarily recruits and places volunteers with nonprofits in need of help and trains nonprofit staff in volunteer and nonprofit management. This provides over 160 local nonprofits with critical capacity building support for strengthening and sustaining their programs. HOSC’s service area includes 45 towns and villages in the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago, reaching a population of over 1.6 million.

HOSC serves the community by:

Recruiting volunteers for nonprofit staff through the HandsOn Connect online volunteer matching database, community classes, a periodic newspaper column in the Daily Herald, and HOSC’s website, which has an average of over 400 volunteer opportunities posted each week. Connecting volunteers with over 160 nonprofits and schools in need of help through the targeted recruitment of youth, adults, seniors, and corporate employees. HOSC is the largest volunteer center in Illinois and over 8,000 volunteer referrals are made on average each year. Training nonprofit staff through the provision of professional development workshops, Strategic Volunteer Management Training Series (SVMTS) certificate courses, a nonprofit technical assistance program, and the distribution of an e-newsletter which discusses local trends and strategies in volunteer management. Directing its own service initiatives to address unmet needs in the Chicago suburbs. This includes SAVE Consulting, which helps agency and school leaders define and recruit for skills-based and pro-bono volunteer needs; the Community Paint-A-Thon, which benefits low-income seniors and disabled persons; and the Homeland Security Program, to train volunteers to act in case of an emergency
Recognizing volunteers and volunteer managers through recognition events to celebrate their accomplishments


Who We Serve:
HandsOn Suburban Chicago and RSVP Service Area
Northern Cook and Northern DuPage County
45 towns and villages

Arlington Heights
Barrington Hills
Buffalo Grove
Carol Stream
Chicago O’Hare Fld
Des Plaines
Elk Grove Village
Glendale Heights
Hanover Park
Hoffman Estates
Morton Grove
Mt. Prospect
Northfield Palatine
Park Ridge
Prospect Heights
Rolling Meadows
South Barrington
Wood Dale

HandsOn Suburban Chicago Primary Service Area

HandsOn Suburban Chicago Primary Service Area


HandsOn Suburban Chicago Programs and Initiatives
The mission of HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC) is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to volunteer and take action that builds vibrant and prosperous communities. We accomplish this mission through nine programs that fit three categories: nonprofit consulting services, volunteer mobilization, and direct-service projects

Nonprofit Consulting Services

Professional Development Trainings cover topics such as volunteer management, fundraising, strategic planning, technology, and much more. The program consists of lunch ‘n’ learns, workshops, and HOSC’s signature Strategic Volunteer Management Training Series (SVMTS). These trainings help nonprofit partners implement best-practices in volunteer and nonprofit management, offer low-cost professional development opportunities to their employees, and learn about new solutions to challenges that nonprofits face.

SAVE and Volunteer Management Consulting increases the organizational capacity of nonprofits through volunteer management consulting. This program’s service ranges from informal phone conversations with our highly trained and experienced staff to HOSC’s nationally recognized SAVE Consulting Process. This process helps nonprofits by the deliberate and methodical integration of skills-based volunteers into a nonprofit’s structure to address existing strategic needs. It includes a process of internal assessment and organizational planning conducted by HandsOn Suburban Chicago staff, skills-based volunteer consultants, the organization’s management and the top level of the organization’s executive structure.

Direct-Service Projects

Managed Projects provide group volunteer opportunities under a fee structure. The program works with over 180 community partners to offer a variety of volunteer opportunities in different focus areas. Corporate group projects facilitate teamwork and increase employee morale, as well as fulfill corporate responsibility initiatives.

The Community Paint-A-Thon is a yearly event for which volunteers are recruited to provide painting and basic home care services to elderly and disabled members of our community. This improvement of their homes helps residents to retain their independence and remain in their homes. The Paint-A-Thon is a community event in which HOSC partners with Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, and Valspar.

Volunteer Mobilization Services

Volunteer Connections connects potential volunteers to hundreds of volunteer opportunities throughout the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago. The program provides a valuable resource to nonprofits, and an easy and personalized method for finding volunteer opportunities for potential volunteers. The Volunteer Connections Program helps potential volunteers find a suitable volunteer position that matches what they want to do. By publicizing the volunteer needs of nonprofits in a centralized location, nonprofits are able to attract more volunteers who are needed in order to maintain or grow their organization.

Learn more about how HOSC supports nonprofits in the community

RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) helps and encourages people 55 and better to engage with their communities through volunteerism. Volunteers are covered by supplemental insurance and are recognized for their effort in our community. RSVP is a national network that is operated through independent organizations who receive funding and oversight through Senior Corps, a branch of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

The Court Appointed Service Elective (CASE) program places adult and juvenile offenders with community service sentences in volunteer positions to help provide restitution to the community and positively redirect the life of the offender.

Schools & Youth is an umbrella program focusing on the specific needs of schools and youth. HOSC leverages pro-bono and skills-based consulting to help schools and districts at a macro level, mobilizes volunteers to tutor and mentor students, and engages students through service. This multi-programmatic effort improves the organizational capacity of schools through tutoring and mentorship in the classroom and providing leadership and service opportunities to students.

Emergency Preparedness works with local townships to provide training for potential volunteers and volunteer managers to prepare for a large-scale emergency. This training includes CERT training, spontaneous-volunteer management, and several other preparedness initiatives.

Days of Service

HandsOn Suburban Chicago celebrates service and volunteerism through service projects and other events during the following days:

Martin Luther King Day (January)
National Volunteer Week (April)
Global Youth Service Day (April)
Earth Day (April)
AmeriCorps Week (May)
9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance (September)
Senior Corps Week (May)
Make a Difference Day (October)

History of HandsOn Suburban Chicago

It all started in a box. In the 1960’s, local activist Lois Moore began filling a recipe box with the names of friends and neighbors who were interested in volunteering but unsure of where to go. As that box began to overflow, Lois worked with the Arlington Heights Clergy Fellowship to found the Volunteer Service Bureau of Northwest Cook County, a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities.

The bureau opened its doors on May 1, 1969 in a cramped high school office, connecting more than 100 people with opportunities to make a difference in the first year. From these humble beginnings, HandsOn Suburban Chicago — as we’ve been called since July 2011– has grown into a force for change, referring over 10,000 volunteers annually and serving over 140 social service agencies, nonprofits and schools.

While we continue the tradition of referring people to organizations, today’s volunteer center goes even further, organizing volunteer programs like Youth in Action and RSVP, and providing professional training and consulting services for area nonprofits. While we are continually evolving as an organization, our long commitment to the community is reflected in our mission statement; our mission is: “to improve lives by developing, advancing and promoting community volunteer initiatives.”

HandsOn Suburban Chicago Historical Timeline

Founded as The Volunteer Service Bureau. Branch offices open: Harper College (central office), Mt. Prospect, Palatine/Rolling Meadows, Prospect Heights, Elk Grove and Arlington Heights; 200 volunteers registered.

Gov. Ogilvie presents Community Voluntary Action plaque to TVC at Governor’s Conference on Voluntary Action. Some corporate support received.

Staff works at Harper College to develop accredited courses in volunteer management. First Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner was held.

Daily Herald begins a weekly column listing volunteer opportunities called: “The Volunteer Bureau.” The column still exists today under the name: “Get Involved!”
Name changed to The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. Began implementation of corporate volunteer outreach program to interest corporate employees.

Professional Development workshops created to train agency volunteer coordinators.

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, a specialized program for people age 55 and better, was added. Helped form Volunteer Centers of Metro Chicago, a network of 11 Volunteer Centers.

On-going America Reads Grant program awarded. Tutor-Mentor Partnership with District 214 and two major tutoring programs for at-risk children and teens established.

A private foundation awarded a capacity building grant to help The Volunteer Center expand programs and improve technology. On-going Homeland Security Grant program awarded to help RSVP expand disaster response efforts with local communities.

AmeriCorps*VISTA program grant awarded, beginning with two full-time VISTA members assigned to help build the capacity of the center to serve the poor.

Nine Americorps VISTA slots approved for The Volunteer Center. Received national, highly competitive HandsOn grant (the VIRE grant) to develop “SAVE” the Strategic Action for Volunteer Engagement Program, which prepares nonprofits to fully leverage the skills of a volunteer’s professional skills.
Received a Program of National Significance grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to use the “SAVE” Program on-going with schools. The SAVE Program consults with agency and school leaders and leads them to define skills-based and pro-bono volunteer needs; then, HandsOn Suburban Chicago recruits and places those volunteers with the agencies and schools.

The Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago changed its name to HandsOn Suburban Chicago. This new brand was adopted to help align the organization more closely with the national affiliate HandsOn Network, a part of the Points of Light Institute.

HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC) is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Linked Local Network (LLN) to create customized local web pages that distribute news, information, and content on targeted geographic and topical areas. The initial three targeted geographic areas are Arlington Heights,  Wheeling and Schaumburg . The first site based on specific topical news focuses on Veterans.

The idea behind this collaboration stemmed from HandsOn Suburban Chicago’s mission to support their community partners, the more than 180 nonprofits, schools and organizations in the 45 core Chicagoland communities that they serve. In addition to recruiting and referring thousands of volunteers annually to these organizations, HOSC strives to support the missions and programs of its community partners. Limited by a small staff, HOSC turned to social media as a means to not only bolster its efforts but also to engage businesses, government agencies and individuals in this initiative. For 40 years HOSC has been uniting the community offline, but this new collaboration with LLN will bring the efforts online.

“The opportunity to partner with LLN and leverage the immediate benefits of a robust social media network on behalf of each of the communities, schools and nonprofit partners we service is very exciting. This will allow us to highlight these successful organizations, empowering them to share their services and critical programs, publicize upcoming events and promote timely opportunities for volunteers to help make their funding dollars go further,” said HandsOn Suburban Chicago’s COO, Chris Smith.

Typically nonprofits don’t have elaborate social media programs, but with the use of blogs and RSS feeds, content relevant to a particular geographic area or topic will be fed into these targeted pages. Nonprofits will share their missions and stories, ultimately creating awareness and encouraging community engagement. Companies often want to help their community, but don’t know where to start. It is our hope that this collaboration will bring businesses, individuals and nonprofits together to become the solution for a variety of prevalent social issues. With Linked Local Networks’ current 600,000 connections, this collaboration creates the ideal platform for spreading the word.

Linked Local Network Founder, Fred McMurray, says building relationships with nonprofits has always been part of the LLN business model. “Our goal has been to develop grass roots communities that share information and resources through integrating online and offline networks, thereby strengthening communities, said McMurray. “It’s an important part of our mission to support nonprofits and we’re very excited to be working with HOSC.” According to McMurray, the Schaumburg site has already been used to assist the Schaumburg Prairie Center to organize and promote the 2012 Performing Arts Celebration.

Both LLN and HOSC are enthusiastic about the future of this project. While HOSC’s core focus is on 45 communities in Chicagoland, as part of the HandsOn Network with affiliates nationwide and internationally, this model can be replicated globally. By providing platforms for accessible and relevant information about community news, needs, events and social issues, Linked Local Network can expand the mission of HandsOn Suburban Chicago.

For over 40 years, HandsOn Suburban Chicago (HOSC) has been inspiring, equipping and mobilizing people to volunteer and take action that builds vibrant and prosperous communities.

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