Meet Our Volunteers: Jason Rahoy

Cara Staff

Our volunteers are people who add to the heart and soul of our community. They care about our participants and staff beyond measure, and we are grateful for their support. We can’t thank them enough, but we will try our best! (Try? Ain’t nothing to it but to do it!) Thank you to all of our volunteers!

Who volunteered at Cara and decided to join our Associate Board?

That question may describe many members of our incredible Associate Board, but Jason Rahoy fits right in with his heart of gold. Jason learned about Cara from a friend at church and attended his first Motivations back in 2014. Our morning tradition left him inspired by the sense of hope he felt from every person in the room. To this day, Jason continues to give his time, talent, and dedication to our job seekers and entire community.

Individual Engagement Manager Jonathan Eisen says, “Jason’s experience with Cara over the years is a tremendous asset across our enterprise. As a volunteer, Jason provides mentorship, and as an Associate Board member, he has maintained strong relationships to bring in an impressive amount of corporate and individual contributions in support of the Summer Social. He is thoughtful, patient, and caring. Thank you for your leadership and friendship, Jason!”

What’s your background?

As a child growing up outside a small town in south-eastern Wisconsin, I always wanted to live in a city.  So after graduating law school, I accepted an offer with a firm in St. Louis, Missouri, where I practiced law.  Several years later, I was fortunate to accept another position in Chicago that moved me closer to family and home.  Somewhat ironically, after living in Chicago for a while, I now feel drawn back to life in a smaller town where I can dig in the dirt and plant a garden, something I very much enjoy.

Faith has also been an important part of my life, and it was at church about five years ago on a Sunday morning in Chicago that I first heard someone speak about Cara’s mission and its life-transforming work.  After learning a little more about Cara, a great friend encouraged me to attend Motivations, which I soon did.  I was moved tremendously that morning at Motivations, and shortly afterwards, began volunteering with Cara.

Why did you choose to volunteer with Cara?

It is Cara’s focus to offer a hand up to those who are themselves motivated and willing to choose a better path that stood out so strongly when I attended Motivations.  As the song goes, sometimes in life we all need somebody to lean on – I think someone actually sang that song the morning I attended Motivations.  And Cara is a fantastic organization dedicated to serving others who in the moment need someone to lean on along the way.

How do you volunteer at Cara?

Initially, I volunteered with Cara for a few years before joining the Associate Board. Starting out, I volunteered in the computer lab assisting participants with their computer skills, resumes, drafting cover letters, and navigating through online applications.  I have also participated in mock career fairs playing the role of an employer listening to participants’ elevator pitches and offering feedback. More recently, I’ve been engaging with participants through individualized interview coaching for those who are send out eligible.

After a few years of volunteering, I felt a strong desire to become more involved with Cara and partner in its mission.  So it was during a conversation at Maria’s volunteer appreciation party a few years ago, that I was encouraged to apply for a position on the Associate Board.  My first year on the Associate Board was with the Silent Auction Committee soliciting donations from friends and local businesses to auction during the annual Summer Social.  The following year, I was chosen to co-lead the newly created Technology Committee, where we focus on leveraging technologies to make the work of the Associate Board more efficient.

What difference has Cara made in your life?

Cara has helped me learn to appreciate some of the difficult circumstances others occasionally find themselves facing.  And by moving my life closer to others through engaging with participants at Cara, I feel that I have a little better understanding of some of those challenging situations experienced by others.

What’s the best experience you’ve had as a member of the Cara Associate Board?

Serving on the Associate Board with such a passionate group of people who are all dedicated to helping Cara and its mission is certainly one of the best (ongoing) experiences.  Every month, we get together for our board meetings, talk through plans for and progress towards our Summer Social, and encourage each other along the way.  And every month we all leave the meeting excited about the amazing work Cara is doing and how we have the opportunity to participate in that work.  Working with such a fantastic, passionate group who are all committed to Cara is certainly one of the best experiences I’ve had.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to the community?

I feel it’s important to give back because I’ve lived a truly blessed life.  By that I mean there have been people in my life, such as my family and friends, that have sacrificed so much and been extremely generous to me. Because people have given so much to me, I feel it’s important to pass along some of those blessings to others, so that they may, in turn, pass it along to someone else someday.

Have you ever attended or spoken at Motivations?

Yes, on a morning before Christmas in December 2014, I attended my first Motivations.  Truly, truly inspirational!  Prior to taking a seat, I was told that a tap on the shoulder meant that person would stand in the  middle of the circle,  answer the question of the day, and then lead everyone in song.  I watched several participants get tapped on the shoulder, share,  sing, and clap their hearts out.  Then, to my surprise, I was tapped on the shoulder.  To this day, I still have no idea what I said as I stood in that circle looking around at everyone, but after sharing a few words, I began the one and only song I could possibly think of – Joy to the World! And thankfully, everyone quickly jumped in and sang along!  That morning at Motivations highlighted what Cara means  to me–Hope.  The hope in the room that morning was tangible; I could feel the hope of everyone there. Hope motivated me in that moment, and it still does to this day.

How has volunteering at Cara changed the way you understand the challenges we face in our city such as poverty and homelessness?

Volunteering at Cara has helped me to understand that poverty and homelessness in Chicago is incredibly varied, meaning it impacts many different people, in different ways, from many different walks of life.  Everyone’s journey is unique; volunteering with Cara has helped me appreciate that.

One of our favorite Motivations questions: At this point in your life, what motivates you?

Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, once said, “The only things worth doing in life are the things you do for others.”  To me, those words speak to a powerful truth–to be generous to others.  For many reasons, Carroll’s words have stuck with me as a reminder to lean generously outward and into the lives of others.  That is something that motivates me today.

At Cara, we help participants break the cycle of poverty by providing them with the training and skills they need to get and keep meaningful work. Join us in our movement to bring back hope, jobs, and opportunity by donating or becoming a volunteer today.