Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Everybody remembers their first speech assignment in school or the classic elevator-pitch for a job interview, right? “Tell me something interesting about yourself.” Many times the statement that follows is a unique hobby or experience but rarely, I would imagine, is the statement associated with a city, such as, “I’m Pete Chambers and I’m an eighth generation Peorian.”
I (along with my great-great-great-great-great grandparent) was born and raised in Peoria, IL. The District 150 schools that I attended prioritized volunteerism and so I fondly remember bell-ringing and signing Christmas carols in front of Bergner’s in Sheridan Village for the Salvation Army, visiting with Independence Village residents, and playing board games with the students at Robert A. Jamieson School. I learned from an early age while staying up well passed my bedtime watching the St. Jude and Easterseals telethons that Peoria wasn’t your average town when it came to giving.
College, Law School, and my first job took me away from Peoria and, for quite a while, I felt like a small fish in a big pond when volunteering. I was reminded daily by a six-story mural to Go Do Good, yet I never truly felt part of any one organization while living in a big city.
When I moved back to Peoria four years ago, I sought out a different kind of charitable organization. I wanted to do more than simply write a check or attend a fundraising event and, when I expressed this to a good friend, she told me to “Build Peoria”.
How can I do that? I’m just one person? Peoria has many needs but also many great organizations working to fill those needs- what more could I do?
Digging a little deeper, I found BUILD PEORIA. The first part of BUILD PEORIA’s mission is to unite the community for their love of the Peoria area to physically BUILD PEORIA into a better place. We subscribe to the idea that the future of fundraising is in the masses, that social media can bring together people with a common goal, and that fundraising events can simply feel like a day at the ballpark. Each year, we ask our members “what do YOU want to build in Peoria next?” and then we go out, fundraise, and build it… together!
The second part of BUILD PEORIA’s mission is to leave a LEGACY for future generations. This part of the mission statement carries a new meaning for me. Last year, my wife and I welcomed our first child into our family. I’m incredibly proud to say that my involvement with BUILD PEORIA allows me to leave a legacy for him as a ninth generation Peorian.