Can’t Miss Chicago Experiences with the Points of Light Conference 2023 Co-hosts

Nov 8, 2022

Whether you’re new to your job or an expert practitioner, the Points of Light Conference helps you connect with fellow changemakers and drive real and sustained change in your own community and beyond. By connecting, learning from fellow leaders, gathering innovative ideas around volunteer engagement and leveraging valuable resources, you’re able to amplify your impact and make the world better and brighter. 

The Points of Light Conference 2023 will be held in Chicago, featuring inspiring speakers from around the globe as well as Points of Light’s own subject matter experts. Plus, our three Chicago-based Points of Light Global Network affiliates are co-hosting this year’s event. We asked these Chicago locals to tell us about their work and share highlights of the city they call home. 

Share one remarkable thing about your community-changing work. 

Chicago Cares: Chicago Cares is inspired every day by what service makes possible! The impact of service experiences that are relational, community-driven and equity centered are richer, more creative and more expansive than we could have imagined. Whether it’s volunteers who go on to deeply invest in small businesses, residents who go on to be employed at a company after a service engagement or collaborative work greater than we could have imagined, like Chicago PREP, service connects, educates and activates us to build the city we all deserve. Through service, Chicago Cares is bridging the divides in our city, building social and civic connections, and weaving our communities together as a stronger whole. A city more deeply bound to one another socially and civically is capable of transformational change.   

HandsOn Suburban Chicago: Each person we connect with has a ripple effect. When we connect a person to a nonprofit volunteer opportunity, they become engaged with that nonprofit giving their time, talent, and resources. Through their engagement, they grow in their passion for the work they do, often asking others to volunteer either with the nonprofit or to find a place of their own they are passionate about. They have learned the impact they have made, and that ripple effect continues to grow.   

Giving Dupage: It is remarkable to have a front row seat to generosity in our community. We bear witness to how people devote themselves to a cause and it is humbling to play a small part in connecting individuals to service.   

“It is fitting that the 2023 conference will be hosted in Chicago: every day so many Chicagoans serve one another with love for their neighbors and pride for their city. Our residents and leaders demonstrate that service is a powerful way to connect, learn and build the city we all deserve.” 

– Ellen Ray, chief executive officer at Chicago Cares 

Name one “can’t miss” experience in Chicago. 

Chicago Cares CEO Ellen Ray: One of my favorite Chicago experiences takes me to Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side to spend time at the Garfield Park Conservatory – the Fern Room is magical, ancient and healing – and then to grab lunch at Inspiration Kitchens, a social enterprise restaurant with proceeds supporting Inspiration Corporation’s job training program for individuals ready for a new start in life. 

HandsOn Suburban Chicago Executive Director Chris Swope Cholewa: The Chicago Cultural Center is a must-see, offering history, music, art, dance and architecture representing diverse cultures and unique perspectives, and a free showcase to learn and enjoy so much beauty. 

Giving Dupage Executive Director Shefali M. Trivedi: Enjoy the delicious global cuisine in Chicago. If you are a foodie, then Chicago is your international foods test kitchen!   

“It is thrilling to co-host the Conference and have the opportunity to motivate people across the globe to expand their knowledge, make new connections, and inspire change while experiencing the diverse cultures and communities of Chicago and the surrounding communities.” 

– Chris Swope Cholewa, executive director at HandsOn Suburban Chicago 

Who’s a famous Chicagoan and notable community steward who you’re eager to meet? 

Chicago Cares: I am still holding out hope that someday I will get to meet Chance the Rapper! He is not only a Grammy-award winning artist, famed Chicagoan and a community steward through Social Works, he also guest appears in one of the most Chicago of shows, which is filmed in Englewood, “South Side” as Herbert.   

HandsOn Suburban Chicago: I would love to meet Michelle Obama as she continues to inspire her hometown and lives her words, “Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” 

There is a powerful energy created when thousands of minds and hearts converge around the intention of service and doing good. This thought inspires us and is a real signal of hope for all communities. Giving DuPage welcomes our friends and colleagues with open arms to the Chicago region! 

– Shefali M. Trivedi, executive director at Giving DuPage  

Outside of the beloved Deep Dish Pizza, what’s one delicacy credited as a Chicago original? 

Chicago Cares: The Pizza Puff! It is infamous (for scalding your mouth)! If you grew up in Chicago like I did you’ve likely grabbed one of these, and the gooey, cheesy, fatty, salty treat is glorious and painful. It originated here and is tough to find outside of Chicago. Also, the Chicagoan in me has to point out that the most Chicago of the pizzas is actually Tavern Style.  

HandsOn Suburban Chicago: A Chicago Style Hot Dog, and I recommend Portillo’s. The original “Dog Shack” opened in 1963 about two miles from my home and has grown to $1.9 billion and spread throughout the country. I would say that it started as one great hot dog. 

Giving Dupage: Saganaki may not officially be a “Chicago original,” but it definitely became a signature dish here. Chicagoans often start Greek restaurant dinners to the sound of ‘Opaa’ when the dish of cheese is set to flame tableside and finished with a squeeze of lemon. 


Sign up to receive the latest updates on the Points of Light Conference 2023 and stay tuned on when you can register! And find out more about our three nonprofit affiliate co-hosts by checking out their websites. 

Chicago Cares mobilizes volunteers to build a stronger, more unified Chicago. 

HandsOn Suburban Chicago’s mission is to positively impact communities by connecting people to enriching volunteer experiences.

Giving Dupage serves the public as the Dupage County volunteer center connecting people with local giving opportunities, mobilizing volunteers, providing capacity-building resources to local nonprofit organizations and striving to inspire their community. 

Points of Light

We are champions of civic engagement with a mission to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.