Ready for new challenges

After retiring from a time-consuming technology career in 2015, Louise Mezzatesta was ready to take on new challenges.

She came to the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation’s Volunteer Meet and Match fair at the Main Library last year, and found a match: helping plan the Oak Park Regional Housing Center’s annual fall benefit gala.

The experience has been rewarding, Mezzatesta said, as the Housing Center’s mission is important to her. A resident of Oak Park since 1958, “I got my first apartment in Oak Park through the Housing Center,” she said. 

Mezzatesta said she looks forward to this year’s fair and more opportunities. “The real blessing of volunteerism is the reciprocal benefit of participation," she said. "I get as much as I give, if not more.”

Meet your match

This year's one-stop Volunteer Meet and Match fair, organized by the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, is Wednesday, April 26, 4–8 pm at the Main Library. 

Come learn about opportunities with more than 30 local organizations, including West Cook YMCA, Housing Forward, the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, Ten Thousand Villages, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) at Triton College, and the Oak Park Public Library. 

Marty Colchamiro, Co-Chair of the Hunger Walkathon West CROP Walk, said last year's fair was very helpful for recruiting local volunteers. This year, the organization is holding its 34th annual walkathon on Sunday, May 7, and is especially looking to meet volunteers who can help on the day of the walk.

Colchamiro said that 25 percent of funds raised from the walkathon goes back to local organizations, like food pantries in Forest Park and Oak Park and Housing Forward, and 75 percent goes to relief efforts in the U.S. and worldwide. "While we're walking in Oak Park, we're helping people worldwide," he said.