Team Story

Karen Steele

In the fall of 2016, there were two organizations that caught the attention of Karen Paluzzi Steele, Program Manager for The Honeycomb Project — The Chicago Community ToolBank and The Montessori School of Englewood. Karen leads the charge in creating and executing Honeycomb’s volunteer experiences.

“The partnership formed out of a need,” Karen states, “it started with a simple conversation with a new nonprofit in Chicago that provides organizations with an inventory of tools to use in volunteer projects.” “The other was a discussion with an invested principal and staff of a CPS Montessori School in Englewood, which was moving to a new location and in need of bookcases.”

A light bulb went off during a brainstorming session with the Honeycomb team. “Let’s build bookcases and have them delivered to the school–and let’s fill the bookcases with a book drive.”

“The Chicago Community ToolBank was a natural fit to bring all of our partners together to create a meaningful family volunteer project,” says Karen. “ToolBank provided a great working space for our families, in addition to having all the necessary tools needed to make the bookcases.”

Karen quickly went to work on hammering out the logistics to plan a fun volunteer project for a group of 55 volunteers.  Karen planned out volunteer tasks for varying ages to promote learning, leadership and collaboration. She sourced quality bookcases, lined up a guest speaker, organized a book drive, secured a donation for the delivery of the goods, and recruited a dynamic project management team to run the show.

“We all owe it to give back, but it’s not always an easy thing to know and do,” Karen says. “Honeycomb provides these volunteer experiences so families can easily show up and give back…Honeycomb has a huge impact on our families-we give kids value and understanding about being a part of the greater good and hope that these kids carry that into adulthood.”

By bringing multiple partners and donors together and mobilizing a network of dedicated volunteer families, Honeycomb was able to raise awareness for two incredible partner organizations, donate 12 new bookcases (valued at $2,400) and collect 300 children’s books to resource The Montessori School in Englewood’s library.

Karen and the Honeycomb team create quality family-friendly projects that provide meaningful volunteer experiences for all. Even with all the moving parts that go into putting together one service project, The Honeycomb Project effectively mobilizes it’s many assets and resources to make a lasting impact on Chicago for generations to come.