Nothing makes me happier than going home and seeing my dogs. My family has three dogs: Oreo and Frisco are Boston Terriers, and Abigail is a Boston Terrier/French Bulldog mix. Dogs are just the best. They are friendly, always happy to see you, loving, and comforting. I went home a couple of weeks ago and got prime cuddling opportunities with my dogs. We have had Oreo since I was eight years old and I definitely am the closest to him. I almost smuggled him back to Chicago in my suitcase.
Now that summer has come upon us so quickly, all of the dogs seem to be around Lincoln Park. I swear there is one being walked on every city block- which is great for dog lovers like me. I remember one time during my freshman year I ran into a family walking a Boston Terrier and they let me pet it. I felt so much better afterwards – something about dogs just lifts my mood so much.
If you walk a few blocks south of campus, you’ll find this awesome organization called PAWS
, which is committed to building no-kill communities for stray or unwanted dogs and cats. They help spay and neuter cats and dogs and help get them adopted into permanent homes. They even have a giant team each year that runs the Chicago Marathon to raise awareness and funds for their efforts.
Animal lovers rejoice, because PAWS welcomes volunteers! I know a few people who have volunteered at PAWS and love it. Is there a better way to spend time then playing with dogs? I don’t think so.
Ever since I was in seventh grade, I have been babysitting. I love everything about children: their silliness, smiles, laughs, curiosity, and hugs. When I came to DePaul, I knew I wanted to continue finding families to work for. It is the best job, especially for a college student. You essentially make your own hours, as you can accept or decline jobs as your schedule permits. Also, I love growing close to a family because it gives me a warm, loving place to be that usually combats the loneliness or stress that comes with college life.
Because I am not from Chicago, I did not really know how I was going to find families to babysit for. There were a couple job postings on one of the bulletin boards in the Student Center
that I had luck with, but I did not really find a lot of jobs until I joined an online site. There are a few babysitting websites in Chicago, but the one I chose is called UrbanSitter
. It was one of the best decisions I made, as I have gotten so many jobs and contacts from this website.
As a potential sitter, you set up a profile containing an introductory paragraph, past experience, hourly rates, and the neighborhoods you are willing to work in. Your profile goes through a screening process and if accepted, you then update your availability for parents to see or apply to jobs already posted. It is really easy and once you meet a family on UrbanSitter, it is likely you will stay in contact and sit for them again. I have many repeat families that I love sitting for that I found on UrbanSitter. It is a great way to make money on that random Friday or Saturday night where you don’t have plans. You essentially get paid to play with kids and then after they go to bed, watch TV or do homework. UrbanSitter is also great if you are looking for a part-time, weekly job. I have had a wonderful experience with UrbanSitter and I recommend it if you are looking to babysit in Chicago.
This year I am volunteering at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (is that a long name or what?) downtown off of Michigan Ave. I have only had two shifts so far but I can tell it is going to be one of the best experiences of my year. I am in the Cardiac CCU, which is the intensive care unit for children with cardiac problems. It is definitely sad to see such sick children, but it reassures me to know that I am helping to brighten their days. There is no age limit on the CCU- there are newborns up to adults. My focus, of course, will be on the babies and children.
So far, I have held a lot of babies which just fills my soul with peace. Babies are so special and helping them relax and sleep is a wonderful job, especially if the baby doesn’t have very many family members coming to visit and nurture them. Playing with the older kids is a blast, too. They are obviously much more interactive. So far, I have been beaten in Uno, fished Play-Doh out of a container of bubbles, and learned all the names of (and decapitated) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For the record, they are Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello. Having a younger sister, I could only tell you the different ways to dress a Polly Pocket or Barbie.
Even though they are sick, these children have already made an impact on me. Instead of being able to go to school and play outside like normal children, the kids on the Cardiac CCU are stuck in hospital rooms. Life is short and you never know what it will throw at you. Be loving, happy, excited, and grateful for all the opportunities and the life you have. Life is a gift so don’t waste it!