With 77 very unique and culturally diverse neighborhoods, Chicago is a big city with a small city feel. Chicago has a long standing commitment to activism and community organizing, making it a great place to learn about race, poverty, and other issues of injustice. DOOR Chicago is housed at First Church of the Brethren in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. East Garfield Park is a community full of potential and has a rich history of strong community leaders and activists, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had an office in First Church of the Brethren as he fought for fair housing rights. DOOR Chicago partners with established and well rooted organizations and churches that have been serving the city for many years to provide service opportunities for participants.
Contact DOOR Chicago
Juan Pablo Herrera, Acting Chicago City Director
DOOR Chicago Social Media
Discover is DOOR's short term mission trip/service-learning program that includes time for service, learning, and reflection. Read more about the Discover program.
Discover groups stay in East Garfield Park, just off the CTA's Blue Line. Groups learn about the assets of the neighborhood, including the Garfield Park Conservatory, public transportation, grassroots and social justice organizations, community gardens, social service providers, and churches. In addition to service opportunities with a variety of local agencies and churches, Discover participants spend time hearing from local leadership, being involved in experiential hands-on activities, and reflecting on their experiences.
- An elderly care center that allows groups to interact with senior citizens of differing abilities through playing games, participating in crafts, and sharing stories
- An urban gardening network throughout the city that allows groups to garden alongside neighborhood stakeholders
- A local church committed to being peacemakers in their neighborhood parks and invites groups to play alongside their neighbors
- An outreach center that provides opportunities for groups to serve in the three shelters of their homeless prevention program: a daycare facility, a free store, and a soup kitchen
During our evening programming we have guest speakers and large group reflection. It is an interactive time that allows groups to hear from local leaders, ask questions, and tell their own stories. We use art, music, and games to help participants process their time with DOOR. We also provide space and guidance for churches and organizations to have small group time so that they can bond, have deep conversation, and process their experience together.
Speakers may include:
- Charles Perry, a program director at Westside Health Authority, studied literature while in prison and became fascinated with how it affects current day leadership. He engages our Discover participants in dialogue about how an understanding of classic humanities increases understanding of how communities work and helps people do community development more effectively.
- Through a partnership with the speakers' bureau at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, we host public speakers who have experienced homelessness and now work with others in a similar situation. These speakers help connect personal experience with an awareness of the systemic structures of poverty and homelessness, allowing our Discover participants to understand the sociological side of homelessness.
- Public transportation is recommended!
- Groups can fly to O'Hare International Airport (ORD) or Midway International Airport (MDW) and can use public transit or cars to get around the city.
- The Amtrak train station is an easy bus or train ride from East Garfield Park.
- If driving, vehicles that fit 6-8 people are best.
- Parking considerations: Participants are responsible for street parking fees at agencies that do not have parking lots. We do not have parking for buses available on site. Please contact the Chicago City Director with questions about parking.
- Groups stay at First Church of the Brethren and sleep in small classrooms and the balcony in the sanctuary. Sleeping areas are divided by gender.
- A limited number of small sleeping mats are available on a first come first served basis.
- First Church has four bathrooms and four showers for participants to share.
- Groups gather in the sanctuary for reflection and evening programming. Meals are served in the fellowship hall.
DOOR's Discern program provides summer staff and local yearlong engagement opportunities for young adults. Read more about the Discern program.
DOOR Chicago's Discern program features:
- Leadership development through staffing the summer Discover program and participating in weekly leadership development training sessions with the City Director
- Discernment of calling/vocation (including assessments, discussion, sharing stories, and planning for personal, educational, and job goals)
- Acquiring city competency through learning city transportation, meeting city leaders, studying the history and current issues in Chicago, and preparing a social justice presentation of an issue facing Chicago
As a DOOR Chicago Discern participant, you will receive:
- Housing at Faith House, next door to First Church of the Brethren. This community house is for staff only. Both bedrooms and bathrooms are shared. Faith House also serves as a place for local staff to hangout and relax between afternoon and evening responsibilities.
- All meals are covered during Discover program weeks.
- Public transit- an unlimited monthly CTA pass is provided during the summer Discover season
- $150 weekly stipend during the summer Discover season
- Orientation week and an end of summer debriefing retreat are included.
Dwell is a yearlong program for young adults interested in dedicating a year to service, intentional community, discernment, and faith development. Read more about the Dwell program.
In Chicago, Dwellers will:
- Explore many of Chicago's 77 culturally diverse neighborhoods
- Learn about race, poverty, and other issues of injustice from local leaders and residents with a long-standing commitment to activism and organizing
- Spend time as a Dwell community sharing meals, reading and discussing books, doing service, and praying together
- Grow and develop as individuals by setting goals, stepping out of their comfort zone, and building cross-cultural relationships with neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Dwellers
- Participate in community days where Dwell participants and the City Director will connect and learn from each other as they explore Chicago; meet with community leaders; attend cultural events; and reflect, serve, and advocate for disenfranchised populations together
- Participate in several retreats during the year that may include storytelling, silence and reflection, connection with Dwellers/YAVs from other cities, and a year end celebration
- A local school that aims to "equip youth to lead and service as Christians so they can make a difference in the world." Volunteers work as teaching assistants and in the after school programs.
- A housing program that works on a grassroots level for fair and affordable housing by working directly with community residents.
- An after school program that provides educational, recreational, and sports programs. Participants work with either pre-k, elementary, or junior high students in different levels of programming as teaching assistants. Participants are often asked to take more responsibility based on skill levels.
- A domestic violence prevention program that works with an emergency shelter as well as educating students in local high schools.
Local Support and Connections
- DOOR Chicago's board members help welcome Dwell participants to the city and fellowship over meals and stories throughout the year
- Community members/neighbors
- Mentors and/or prayer partners
Chicago has a great transportation system and Dwell participants are provided an unlimited monthly CTA pass. Having a car is not a necessity.
DOOR Chicago's Dwellers live in Faith House which is located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood. It has great access to public transportation, opening up the whole city to our Dwell participants. Members of our Dwell community share sleeping and living space. Faith House has a washer and dryer, a wonderful community garden next door, and a nice large front porch for hanging out.