Economic recession. Unemployment. Low-paying and low-quality jobs. Gender-based violence and sexual assault. Discrimination and harassment. Environmental threats to our health, economy, and security. Lack of adequate food, housing, education, and health care. Lack of opportunities. Loss of hope. These are just some of the challenges facing the people of Southern Illinois.
Surely, with our combined creativity and our passion for life in this region, we can face these challenges. We are strong. We are hard-working. We are creative. We can make a difference. But where do we start?
That’s where you come in. And that’s where we come in.
Welcome to the Illinois Initiative.
We are the Illinois Initiative. We are here to help. We currently serve Southern Illinois. Our goal is to help those in the most need to the highest ethical standard and to the maximum effect. This includes ensuring that basic human needs are met as well as responding to deeper environmental and social justice concerns with projects that foster individual and community empowerment.
We’re looking for a few good everyday heroes. Creative approaches involving a unique “superhero” persona are encouraged, but not required. We welcome all people who are dedicated to serving their community.
As a member or ally of the Illinois Initiative, you will choose one or more environmental or social justice issues. You will educate yourself about your chosen issue(s). You will undergo any training you need to prepare yourself for volunteer service: personal health and fitness training, nonviolence training, first aid training, disaster response training, self-defense training, environmental advocacy training, rape crisis volunteer training, anti-oppression training, and more. The Illinois Initiative will help you find and complete this training, and you will work with other people who share your interests to put this training into action.
Why go to all of this trouble? Why join or support the Illinois Initiative?
Let’s be clear. You will not do this for fame. You will not do this for fortune. If you excel at your chosen form of service, you may discover a career in a related field, and you may someday be recognized for your service. But that is not why you do this.
You do this because you care. In spite of all of the messages telling you to consume, to conform, to pursue a cookie-cutter version of the American dream, to ignore the problems around you and trust that politicians will solve them, you choose to care. You choose to read between the lines, think outside the box, see the big picture, educate yourself, improve yourself, and take action to make a difference.
Listen to that part of yourself, the inner voice that tells you that someone should do something about the problems that surround you. You are that someone, and this is that something. Don’t waste another moment on the sidelines wishing and wanting for things to get better. The time to act is now.
Trust yourself. Take the initiative. Be the change that you want to see in the world. Together, we can make a difference.