April 2016 Associate Board Spotlight: La Casa Norte

138,575. This is the current estimate of Chicago residents experiencing homelessness. La Casa Norte and their Next Generation Board are actively working to serve this population and transform the lives and communities of those affected by homelessness.

CharityScenes had the privilege of speaking with Moni Garza, current co-chair of the Next Generation Board, to better understand how the board works and serves this important cause.

CharityScenes (CS): How did you get involved in the cause and decide to join the board?

Moni Garza (MG): I had the opportunity to meet Sol Flores, founding executivedirector of the organization, at a charity event which was actually for another cause. After speaking with her briefly, I was able to see her passion and understand what an important cause this was. I grew up in the Chicagoland area and was drawn to the unique and effective way they are treating a problem in a city I very much care about.

At the time I joined a few years ago, the Next Generation Board had just been started a few couple of years prior. I was excited to get involved early on in the life of the board and eventually to take on a leadership position. I work in corporate relations at Allstate Insurance and was eager to contribute my marketing and communication strategy skills to help grow the board and attract young professionals to the mission.

CS: What are the goals of the Next Generation Board?

MG: We work closely with the organization and governing board to make sure we are contributing to the larger organization's goals: to provide access to stable housing and deliver comprehensive services. We have fundraising events, we volunteer, and we serve as advocates for the cause. We have a number of professionals who are in public policy so we've been able to take advantage of their skills, knowledge and networks.

Our main fundraising event, Share the Love, takes place in February and is a great event to give friends, co-workers, and family members a chance to learn more about our cause from clients and the founders. We have various volunteers events throughout the year as well. Our most recent event was a professional clothing drive. Our board members organized it, advertised it and came together to sort through the clothing.

CS: How often do board members get together outside of these special events?

MG: We meet every other month and try to encourage members to attend in person, though we do offer a dial-in to accommodate schedules. One thing that is unique to our board is that we hold a one day retreat at the beginning of each year. It's a wonderful opportunity for board members to get to know each, decide what committee they want to be on, and for the group to decide what our goals will be for the year. It's also just a lot of fund to get to know each other in a setting (a co-founder's house) where we can relax and snack and hang out together.

CS: That does sound fun and unique! How would someone go about joining the board?

MG: We're always open to bringing new members on board. We have each new member meet with Jessica, our staff liaison, and Valerie, my co-chair and founder of the Next Generation Board. We want to make sure our newest members understand the scope of the organization and are truly invested in the cause. I'll talk to the potential member as well and then we'll find a spot for them on one of our four committees: advocacy, events, development and fundraising, and marketing. Each member has a give/get requirement of $300 each year which we've found is pretty easily achieved through ticket sales at our events or a personal donation. Members have opportunities to volunteer throughout the year, thought there isn't a strict "volunteer requirement".

CS: Thanks so much for chatting with us. How can potential members learn more?

MG: Reach out! Email info@lacasanorte.org or check out our facebook page here, our webpage here, our twitter feed or our instagram account!