Brookfield group looks to help local charities

WHAM provides monthly service project opportunities

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By Jackie Glosniak

Contributing Reporter

The holiday season is typically when most community businesses, schools and organizations sponsor fundraisers and other charitable events. 

But about people who want to work with neighbors during the rest of the year to do good for others in their own backyard?

A new Brookfield-based service organization named We Have A Mission, or WHAM, was created for those looking to work on monthly service projects with friends and neighbors or with the whole family.

WHAM was founded late last year by the Rev. Karl Sokol and his wife, Ann, of Brookfield's Compassion United Methodist Church; Terri Rivera, a lifelong Brookfield resident; and Riverside resident Lisa Peters as a way to regularly assist community charities.

During much of last year, Rivera, Peters and the Sokols brainstormed the best way to form such an organization and eventually decided on leading a once-a-month meeting at the Compassion Factory Art Gallery and Studio, 9210 Broadway Ave., focusing on a theme (food insecurity, animal welfare, family emergency resources), hosting a representative from an area nonprofit which aids in those efforts and then discussing an action plan for members to do throughout the month to assist in helping the cause. 

"There's so many amazing nonprofits around our area, so we wanted to connect those things," Rivera said. "People are looking to do something with their families, and nonprofits are always looking for volunteers and always have opportunities, so we wanted to facilitate that connection."

The group started promoting itself in November through word of mouth and the Brookfield Connections neighborhood page on Facebook, gaining enough of a following to hold its first meeting in December. 

Rivera said the group is hopeful WHAM will become an outlet for charity for not just children, but the whole family. 

"One of the things that we wanted to focus on with this group specifically is families with younger children, because a lot of times, nonprofits don't offer direct opportunities for younger kids," she said.

So far, participants have come mostly from Brookfield, LaGrange Park and LaGrange. At the group's December and January meetings, Rivera said the leaders were happy to see adults willing to stay and join in the service efforts. 

"We weren't sure if families would just drop off their kids and just leave them with us for the hour, but most of the families come in together, which is awesome," she said. 

Topics so far have included homebound seniors in December and dog and pet toys in January. For the next few months, the group will explore partnering with world hunger organization Feed My Starving Children, hosting a local food drive and working with Big Rig Books, a local charity which focuses on childhood literacy in lower-income neighborhoods. 

Additionally, Rivera says, WHAM hopes to show the community they are committed to not just doing fundraisers and drives. Rather, she says, they want to provide hands-on opportunities to provide service to others. 

"Hopefully, the goal is to not just do this for one hour a month — it's to set the culture in your family and our community that this is an ongoing opportunity for people," she said. 

For more information about WHAM, contact Compassion United Methodist Church at 708-680-6749 or email Rivera at terrilrivera@gmail.com. 

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