Volunteer Spotlight

Johnson Family

“Volunteering and service is a component of our lives.”

Ella Johnson just earned her tenth Honeycomb pin and she’s only eight and a half years old…The Johnson Family started to volunteer with The Honeycomb Project is 2014, and it has grown into a meaningful commitment that Ella and her dad, Eric, share together. “I remember telling my wife, Anissa (when Ella was four years old),” Eric recalls “that I wanted to introduce her to community and service to others.”  The family had not heard of Honeycomb and simply did an online search of “family oriented service projects,” and up popped Honeycomb.

Since then, Ella and her dad have volunteered for a diverse group of projects such as writing letters to deployed soldiers overseas, making toys and beds for shelter animals and re-purposing plastic grocery bags into emergency sleeping mats for the homeless. “Ella especially loves arts and crafts,” says Eric. “Participating in the sewing quilts for pediatric patients project at Sew Crafty Studio really increased her creative passion. Plus, the Honeycomb Craft Fair that was hosted by Sew Crafty last year was pretty incredible.” Ella raised nearly $125 for The Honeycomb Project at the Craft Fair last spring, through her colorful and creative slime jars.  “Ella loved making slime prior to the fair, but this time she really ran with it. We picked out cool little jars and spent a Sunday afternoon making creative colors…the slime was a hit at the fair, “ says Eric.

“Community and service is a core value in our household,” stresses Eric.  “As youth, we start to grow older and start thinking about what we want to do in life.  What do we want our lives to look like?”  “Volunteering and service will be a component of that.” Eric adds, “Honeycomb has broadened Ella’s worldview of her city and people of her country. She can be somewhat sheltered from many issues. Ella’s more well-rounded…she can connect the dots. Honeycomb provides user-friendly ways to explore these issues during each volunteer project, and helps illustrate problems Chicago is challenged with solving.”

Eric works for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a non-profit that strengthens schools and youth-serving organizations’ capacity to deliver summer and afterschool learning experiences to children living in under-resourced communities.  His wife, Anissa Listak is the Founder/CEO of the National Center for Teacher Residencies.  Ella is an avid reader who loves cooking, being creative and enjoys swimming and gymnastics. Her five-year-old sister, Isla, is the jokester of the family who loves making art for her family and friends. Outside of Honeycomb, the family spends time travelling together and looks forward to their trip to London this Spring.

Ella and Eric at Sew Quilts