2021 Alter & Stone Volunteer of the Year Award: WITS Associates Board

Alexandra MichelSupport, Volunteers

For WITS’ 30th Anniversary Gala, we are excited to present the Alter & Stone Volunteer of the Year Award to the WITS Associates Board (formerly Junior Board). This award is a testament to 20 years of great work led by any and all who have served on the Associates Board. Major contributions include:

  • Founding the annual Blackboard Affair Gala (formerly Back to School Bash)
  • Pioneering the former WITS on the Weekend Program (Saturday Tutoring Program)
  • Starting the peer-to-peer fundraising component for the WITSummer Books Campaign, which has raised an additional $35,000 a year for the organization over the last several years and has attracted hundreds of new funders and corporations to WITS.

We wholeheartedly thank all current and former Associates Board members for their service.

Battle of the Classes

In partnership with the award, WITS has launched a “Battle of the Classes” campaign where Associates Board (AB) alumni are divided into grade groups to help support WITS mission and celebrate 20 years of AB success. Each class has co-chairs spearheading the fundraising efforts. Below, two of the co-chairs share their thoughts on how they got involved with WITS and why they are passionate about the AB.

Mallory McShane – Freshman Class Co-Chair, Member of the current WITS AB

Why did you join the WITS AB?

I had already been volunteering with WITS on the Weekends and saw firsthand the impact of our programs. I was excited to help contribute to their good work.

What does WITS mean to you?

WITS means passion and dedication to me. They have spent the last 30 years providing services to CPS students and teachers. They’ve already shown so much success with what they provide, but continue to find new ways to grow and have more of an impact. Their positive influence on students’ educational outcomes cannot be denied.  I’m so impressed with the grit of the WITS team and can’t wait to see how the new strategic plan furthers that.

What is one of your favorite WITS memories?

One of my favorite WITS memories was our final park day to celebrate the end of the school year at McCutcheon Elementary. I had been working with the same group of students for 3 school years and it was fun to just be with the kids on our final day and play! It was amazing to see how much their reading and love of reading had grown in that time.

Megan Findlay Hartwick – Junior Class Co-Chair, Former President of the WITS AB

Why did you join the WITS AB?

I had recently moved to the area and knew very few people in the city. I had always been an active volunteer so I started looking for organizations I could get involved with to meet people and become better connected to Chicago. I have also always had a passion for education and believe that providing quality learning opportunities at young ages is the greatest, most impactful way we improve our society. WITS and the Junior Board (at the time) became the perfect fit for all that I was looking for!

What does WITS mean to you?

More than I could ever explain! WITS became my Chicago family and truly became what my life was about in Chicago. WITS means community, service to others, providing opportunities, connecting people and promoting education. So many things for me are fully wrapped up in WITS – my happiest memories from Chicago, some dear life-long friendships, irreplaceable volunteer experience, and more. And while I loved knowing that my time with WITS made an impact, I will always feel like I got so much more than I gave. 

What is one of your favorite WITS memories?

My favorite memory is from Saturday tutoring, which is what our board supported at the time. One Saturday we were taking our Walsh kids on a field trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I was sitting in a bus seat with my sweet little Rosa and as we turned onto Lake Shore Drive she gasped and said “is that the ocean?” This precious third grader lived six blocks from Lake Michigan and had never seen it until that day. It reminded me that we weren’t just tutors helping them with homework or reading lessons. We were a part of something bigger that was giving these kids exposure to things they maybe wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. We were showing them their world was vast and that WITS wanted to help give them opportunities within it. I think about that day often.

Join the WITS 30th Celebration

We hope you will join us in celebration of all of the accomplishments of the WITS Associates Board! To donate in honor of your favorite class, visit Battle of the Classes.