We are called to link together through prayer and through action to do the work that God calls us to do—to stand in the gap for the vulnerable and for those that are least among us.
Founded in 2012, Operation Jesus is an organization that mobilizes volunteers to step out of their complete comfort zone to distribute food, clothing, and provide care to homeless men, women and children in Chicago on Christmas Day and throughout the year. To date, we have deployed 300 volunteers across all different backgrounds to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need on the streets of Chicago (Photo credit: Karen Rohleder).
You have to first know who you are from the least common denominator. Past successes, praises, accomplishments are things that you have done, they do not make you who you are, and I had to learn that for myself.
By: Linda E. Alberty, M.A.
Did you know that your credibility is developed over time?
Whether you are seeking to be recognized by your supervisor, or want to assert yourself as a leader in your industry, it’s important to realize that credibility is developed over time by routinely doing what is right – day in and out. Learn how to get started achieving your career goals and become credible in the eyes of another person with these 3 principles in our featured post with Parker Dewey.
Founded in 2012, Operation Jesus is a volunteer organization that provides food, clothing, and care to homeless men, women and children in Chicago. To date, Operation Jesus has mobilized over 300 volunteers and donors from all different backgrounds, and partnered with dozens of businesses and organizations to serve those in need, reminding them they are not alone. Our mission is clear, it doesn't take a company, an organization or a single church to give. Each person can join together individually to serve. We break cultural and denominational lines to do what Jesus made so crystal clear in Matthew 25 ... When we serve the least of these, we actually do it unto Him (Photo credit: Austin Layhew, Multimedia Graphics Designer).
It is not to be compared with the pain of going unnoticed by the hundreds of thousands city dwellers, shoppers, city workers and tourists that stretch in mobs across Chicago's most iconic district. You see, poverty is no respecter of age or race. It just isn't. It touches us all and the truth is, we are all one paycheck away from being homeless. What then should be the response of real people? Our aim is to seek the opposite of poverty, which is to love relentlessly through acts of restorative justice in the midst of a racially and economically divided world.
The mix of these beautiful middle aged, young and elderly wide-eye people who are haunted day-in and out by the perils of extreme poverty share our beautiful City of Chicago and call it home just as you and I. But you won't find them complaining or cursing their situation. Instead, with the only ounce of hope their lives depend on, they wait silently for a break--just one, good samaritan, who will have compassion on them.
Money is helpful--perhaps a few dollars will help them scrape up enough to buy cheap, fast food with no promise of true nourishment their bodies desperately cry for. But that's not it either. What I have found is that it's not even money they really want. It's that rare and special moment to be seen as a fellow human being. "Could someone actually come along and look into my eyes with humanity? Do they see me? Is it possible for someone to ask me what my name is instead of callously judging or wondering why I just won't get a job without knowing my story?" they wonder.
(Photo Credit: The Millennial Spirit, Mount Mary University, June 2016)
By: Veronica Sanchez
I always identified as a millennial both by definition and in spirit (perhaps even before the term existed) —I do not have a problem with the association that this term can bring. I have always craved and searched for constant change and a high need for instant gratification, as my parents simply watched and prayed from the sidelines. They have no idea where I inherit these values that are so different than the boomers and x-ers they know. Little did they know back then ... That a similar and entire generation like me was on the rise, a generation equal in spirit and in values that would come together in the hearts of big cities.
These are the same cities that our parents had left behind for suburbia-two generations ago. In retrospect, I now realize that my wrestlings in life to arrive where I am today came deeply from the fact that I never cared to settle. Perhaps I did envision settlement, but not until I found what I was looking for. Here is my story or what I like to call, "My Perfect Millennial Storm."
Jonathan Arciniega is the Jr. Digital Media Intern for CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE Consulting. Currently, a Junior at Romeoville High School, Jonathan is on a path to graduate from high school early to begin preparing for his college career. He plans to work, save money, and attend Joliet Junior College in the Fall of 2018.
By: Jonathan Arciniega
I remember standing in the cold, crisp Chicago Christmas air across the street from Union Station thinking to myself, “Oh boy, this is going to be a long day.” I had the camera in my hands and raised it to my face to take a photo of the front of station. The camera was not my own. It was the camera of one of my future trainers and bosses, I just didn't know it yet.
My mother was a client of Ms. Alberty's and was invited to Operation Jesus, an event to feed the homeless in downtown Chicago. I first met Ms. Alberty, President and Founder of CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE and OPERATION JESUS, at a Pre-Packaging event where she asked me to take a few photos. After the event she saw the photos I took and offered me a chance to take photos downtown for Operation Jesus. I happily said yes to the offer and got myself prepared, but it was pretty clear that I was still a novice.
Santos Gutierrez knows a thing or two about college prep and success having worked at Lansing Community College as a high school recruiter, multicultural recruiter, customer relationship specialist and student success coach. Each position has helped him gain a deeper view into how to truly help students navigate college but no other experience has been as helpful as his very own second chance story. Above, Gutierrez, president of Alsame (Advocates of Latino Student Achievement of Michigan Education), speaks at Alsame's High School Conference at Signaw Valley State University.
By: Santos Gutierrez
I remember loading up the truck in the morning with a new type of excitement I hadn't felt before. I was the first in my family of five siblings to be accepted to go to college. I picked up my brother from work and we drove an hour and half to my new home, a dorm room on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. We moved my stuff inside and with a goodbye hug my brother drove off. Coming from a middle class family in Michigan, you'd think this was a typical scenario. But it wasn't. Not for me. I didn't have anyone to show me the ropes. Actually, looking back, I didn't know what I was doing. Fortunately, a seed was planted back then and thanks to the power of a second chance, I'm reaping the harvest on it and helping others.
Founded in 2012, Operation Jesus is a volunteer organization that provides food, clothing, and care to homeless men, women and children in Chicago. To date, Operation Jesus has mobilized over 300 volunteers and donors from all different backgrounds, and partnered with dozens of businesses and organizations to serve those in need (Photo credit: Jonathan Arciniega, CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE Jr. Media Digital Intern).
By: Linda E. Alberty, M.A.
The next time you think your vision, idea, or individual contribution is too small or too insignificant to impact change on any level, think again. We all have unique gifts and abilities that make us capable of walking in our purpose, and it is most often times connected to fulfilling a need around us. For me, it started back in December 2012. My heart always broke when I saw someone suffering from homelessness. And with the help of a few new friends, I decided to do something about it. We gathered sandwiches, cookies and blankets and piled in a car on Christmas Eve and headed toward downtown Chicago. Back then, it was a small, unorganized, and a chaotic attempt to make a difference.
Today, however, Operation Jesus now lives up to its name: a full operation in Chicago that has attracted and mobilized over 300 volunteers in and out of Illinois over five years. This Palm Sunday, I had the incredible opportunity to witness a miracle in the making: our very first Spring event, drawing another new 50 volunteers who found us online or through our partner organizations. But that's not all ...
That’s when I finally decided to move in a different direction in my approach thanks to my own self-talk and the recommendation of my mentor. I was referred to CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE at the end of December and looking back, I can say the process was more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.
By: Alicia Higgs, MBA
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By: Linda E. Alberty, M.A.
January can be a fun month for setting personal goals despite its chilling temperatures for those living in the Midwest. With the cold dreary month also comes a warm opportunity to reflect on all of our learnings from the year before. It’s a chance to set new goals, change old habits, build a new vision, and yes -- even treat ourselves! It’s newness gives us a chance to reset from the previous years’ circumstances and events and intentionally lean towards the things we desire for our lives.
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... A single, selfless act can inspire a greater, selfless future in 2017.
By: Zach Peterson
Times Free Press, Chattanooga, TN
I pulled three shirts, one sweatshirt, one overcoat, two gloves, one beanie and a pair of thick socks over my body Christmas morning. 10 pieces of clothing, and it still didn’t feel like enough. Chicago hovered around 30 degrees, sending gusts of wind down its long city blocks that day. Normal stuff, apparently. But not for a native Floridian who lives in Tennessee.
For years, my parents had floated the idea of doing Christmas in a big city. We could appreciate the metropolitan cheer, see the snow, donate to the roadside Santas jangling bells for Salvation Army. We could also volunteer, which was our destination that morning. I didn’t know much about Operation Jesus before meeting Linda. I just knew we’d be handing out blankets and food to anyone who had nothing else that icy morning.
After meeting in Chicago’s Union Station, Linda greeted us with a morning prayer and split us into groups. We landed in Linda’s squad with two other families and a couple from Indiana. The instructions were simple: Approach anyone in need, offer them blankets and toiletries, hand them a bag of tacos and tamales, say a prayer if you so desired. Then we departed, a caravan of carolers. Though I can’t remember the city blocks, I do recall the faces.
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