One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for June 2017

One Decision With A Big Impact

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One of the benefits of being a Chicago Now blogger is participating in Blogapalooz-Hour, where various bloggers write on the same topic. However, tonight’s topic hits a little too close to home. Earlier, we were asked to

“Write about a decision you made that changed the course of your life for better or worse.”

Of course, I’m living in the midst of one of my biggest decisions….back in February, my mother had to be hospitalized for a foot infection. So I bounced back and forth from my old apartment on the southwest side to my Mom’s place in Beverly. Granted, it was hectic, and filled with conflict (I had another dry period as a freelancer), but otherwise, I somehow managed to stay relatively sane. However, when I learned that would need physical and occupational therapy, I realized that my lease would end in late March, and that I would need to make some serious changes. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I made it nonetheless.

I decided to move out of my apartment, put my things in storage, and move into Mom’s place on a temporary basis. Comics Code

It wasn’t easy….after all, I was dealing with my own work/finance issues (so much that I ended up running a small crowdfunding campaign) and some of my other plans…well, it felt like a step backward. After all, what person my age would want to move back with their parent? (My father passed away ten years ago, so he would not be a factor).  What if Mom came home, and I couldn’t deal with it? Would anyone feel differently about me once they learned that I was going to take care of Mom?

(It didn’t help that many of my colleagues encouraged me to receive training to be a caretaker for my mother. Although I was open, research seemed to indicate that this would not be doable…and quite honestly, both Mom and I agree that she needs more qualified, experienced people).

As a freelance marketing consultant, that meant much of my work search had to be set aside. After all, packing and getting ready for a move (besides managing the several smaller freelance projects I already had) provided plenty of stress. As my best friend put it, I had the “Stress Trifecta” of parental health issues, work issues and moving issues. Thankfully, I had enough from crowdfunding to rent a truck and storage bin for my things…and friends who came out and helped me move.

2964208212_6d0a583955_oAnd move I did….I left my apartment by the end of March, and got settled at Mom’s. I was ready to live out of a suitcase, because I was now part of the sandwich generation. (My own lack of children and partner notwithstanding)

There were delays in the meantime: a switch in facility for Mom, some other health complications…so I ended up living alone with Mom’s cat. Thankfully, it allowed me to have some serious down time to work through many of my stresses, get caught up on freelance projects, resume my search for work and continue to write. (And taking my friend’s advice, I’m definitely writing about my experiences…a lot of people are hurting right now, and at the very least, relating my own experiences might bring comfort to someone else.

Right now, there’s still a little fear. Fear that a potential employer will be turned off by this post because I’m sharing “too much information.” (If you need evidence that I can write professional copy, I have an online portfolio). Fear that some casual friends (and even potential romantic pursuits) will judge me. Fear that when Mom comes home on Friday, all the lessons I’ve learned will go oimg_20161016_080249630ut the door and I’ll have a harder time dealing with matters.

But in the end, the main impact of this decision is that I realize that fear and faith are not mutually exclusive – I can be afraid and have the faith to move forward. (Note the Doctor Who quote at the top of this post).  With so much in process, I won’t know until later what the total impact of this decision will be…but I’m proud of my decision. I’ve felt a calm and serenity that I haven’t felt for a few months. It will be tough, it will be challenging….but it won’t be boring.

If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to leave them below or join the conversation via our Facebook page.

And as always, thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

June 28, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Sign Up Now: App Camp For Girls

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App Camp for Girls is a non-profit,week-long camp that teaches middle-school aged girls app development, introduces them to leaders in the tech field, and encourages them to explore careers in software and technology. It’s also a great effort to counter gender inequality in a highly prominent industry.

Recent statistics reveal that women represent 56% of the workforce, but only 25% of the total computing/technology workforce. It is estimated that  40% of computing jobs will go unfilled by 2024, because of the lack of trained applicants. App Camp For Girls hopes to counter that trend by introducing 8th and 9th grade girls to app development and strategies for exploring career options in technology field.

Registration is now open and scholarships are available for the Chicago App Camp for Girls, which will be held from July 24 through 28th, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at 8th Light on 412 South Wells Street in Chicago.

This year marks the Chicago debut of App Camp For Girls, after being founded in Portland in 2013 and expanding to Seattle and Phoenix. The camp is open for Chicago Public Schoolappcamp02 and Chicago Charter School Students entering the 8th or 9th grade in 2017, and “Individuals who self-identify as female, trans*, or gender nonconforming are encouraged to apply for direct mentorship positions during Summer Camp.” Led by Jessi Chartier of Mobile Makers, the Chicago App Camp for Girls will provide a curriculum of panels and speakers, including Ellen Shapiro of SpotHero and Lakshmi Shenoy of 1871.

App Camp For Girls hopes to inspire middle-school age girls with a broad introduction to the process of app development, from brainstorming and designing ideas to building and pitching their apps. By creating an app that runs on a device in one week, girls will be encouraged to further explore the field. App Camp for Girls will also provide networking, support, and other opportunities for women in the tech community, and is also seeking volunteers for the event.

(Yes, men can also volunteer for App Camp for Girls as well. Plus, you can also join the list of donors and supporters for App Camp for Girls.)

Having worked with 176 aspiring developers and over 60 mentor volunteers over the last four years, App Camp For Girls has driven their mission towards facilitating gender equality in technology. If there is an 8th or 9th grader in your life who you think would be a great fit, please encourage them to register for App Camp For Girls.

It’s one week that will make a big impact both in Chicago….and in gender equality.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or make them on our Facebook page. You are always welcome to share this post on social media to help spread the word.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

June 26, 2017 at 7:58 am

Balancing Freelancing & Caretaking

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Three months ago, I moved out of my apartment into my mom’s place in Beverly to help take care of her. (She’s had health issues, and is currently in rehab for a recent amputation). Since I’ve been transitioning into freelancing (with actual paid work!), I thought caretaking my mother would be easier. After all, didn’t many of my colleagues assure me that I would be “living the dream” when it comes to freelancing? You know, the whole “work-in-your-pajamas” cliche?

Well, it isn’t…and before you point the finger and say “white male privilege”, let me explain…

One of the challenges of freelancing is the constant work search. Yes, I’m doing some paid work (allowing me to regularly update my LinkedIn profile as well my portfolio and Professional Services pages), but scheduling work time to include chunks of time for “things to pop up), following up on Mom, making sure, taking care of her house…is a challenge. A challenge which many of my friends will commend me for taking…but far too many colleagues don’t understand. Granted, I’m lucky – I’ve had enough experience in social services to know how to navigate the bureaucracy, and have enough time to pursue both freelance and creative efforts…

But many of my colleagues still engage in some very misinformed beliefs. Some of these include

“Why are you seeking full-time work and freelance work? Choosing one or the other will give you focus” – Try maintaining focus when you have additional responsibilities caring for any other human being, let alone someone older.

“Have you considered applying to (insert employment agency name here)?” Yes, I have…and the process is similar to applying for full-time jobs: a submitted, revamped resume with a cover letter that goes into the great void….

“You shouldn’t complain – taking care of a parent isn’t a struggle, it’s a blessing” – One of my cousins actually wrote this to me via Facebook. I no longer speak to that cousin, because it can be a struggle.

“Having a low-paying job is better than no job in this economy” – I know my value. I’m not expecting to become wealthy beyond my dreams; just enough to take care of expenses, eventually move into my own place, pay off some bills, and enjoy the occasional movie/outing….

c-now-sympony(Because although I’ve been relying on the Chicago Public Library and some complimentary passes for my personal blog…it would be nice to be able to spend my own money once in awhile)

“Why not get training to be a caretaker? That way, you can help your mother when a paid caretaker is not available” – Long story short – it’s a major effort just to put together the paperwork. Even if I qualify for training and receive it, I have to engage with a particular agency who may send me to other clients….meaning that yes, I can care for others with little time to care for Mom.

In short, many of the messages I’m hearing seem to say, “You’re not good enough for paid work, so just give up and care for your parent full-time.”

In this economy, it’s tough….I love freelancing and wish I could be doing more of it. I wish I had more time to find private clients. But on the other hand, I have some constraints on my time.

But one good thing about this experience…connecting (and reconnecting) with friends and talking about these issues. Conversing with a former coworker about privilege and economic disparity while geeking out about Doctor Who. Having an open conversation on Facebook with a friend/former Chicago Now blogger about wealth disparities and employment issues. Having great conversations with old and new-ish friends about social issues. And reconnecting with an old friend from my St. Louis days.

In short, I’m feeling like I’m rebuilding my community.

Times are tough for a lot of people, both in our country and especially in Illinois. Many of us are facing the challenges of trying to survive. I’m very fortunate in that I have several freelance gigs that provide some income, and that I made a move that allows me to help my mother transition back into “normal” life. (She has a housekeeper, but she’s going to need help that I have neither the experience nor skills to provide). So for me, freelancing has provided some work/life balance…but I often wish that some of my colleagues and friends could be more understanding.

But I’m letting that go for now.

Comments? Insights? Please feel free to leave them in the section below (comments are moderated) or join the conversation via our Facebook page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

June 22, 2017 at 11:08 am

Meet Your Neighbors: Two Great Chicago Events

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Now that summer has arrived, Chicago residents who want to jump-start social change on a local level have two great events to check out this Saturday. Both are great ways to meet people, have a definite impact on our city, and share one critical aspect in common….

…this blog has featured these events in the past, and highly recommend both of them. If you want to make this Saturday a very impactful day, please consider attending one – or both – of these events.

One great event that we’ve featured before in the blog has been The COOL Party put on by the Streetwise Chicago Associates Board. Standing for Creative Outlets for Life, The COOL Party integrates various performances by soloists, bands and performance artists and raises funds for Streetwise magazine. This Saturday, June 17th, the Cool Party will be held at the Chop Shop in Wicker Park. Check out the details and RSVP via Eventbrite at

...And Thus Endeth the Day

…And Thus Endeth the Day

Be sure to schedule some time on Saturday, June 24th for the Serve-A-Thon, organized by Chicago Cares, a non-profit whose mission focuses on mobilizing volunteers to build a stronger, more unified Chicago. Participants meet at Daley Plaza between 7:30 and 8:30 am, get assigned to a team of fellow volunteers and ride off into a Chicago neighborhood. Participants have the opportunity to volunteer their time and talents for projects like renovating schools, cooking meals for seniors, and working in community gardens. Chicago Cares has a goal of recruiting 5,000 volunteers for this Saturday’s effort….and they would really appreciate your help. If you’re interested, please RSVP via

Have any other great event recommendations? Want to suggest an organization for us to cover? Please leave your comments below or join us in our Facebook conversation. Thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

June 13, 2017 at 7:45 pm