Breakthrough Urban Ministries

In Chicago’s East Garfield Park, there are significant negative influences to overcome. Breakthrough fosters the development of the community by building healthy relationship networks, growing the skills of the men, women, and children, and promoting the transfer of wisdom to our younger generation. We do this primarily through homeless intervention, youth development, and food services.


Breakthough partners with those affected by poverty to build connections, develop skills, and open doors of opportunity.


Visit us at to see a dynamic list of individual, group, ongoing, and one-time volunteer opportunities and to learn how you can get involved in this powerful work. You can view some of the opportunities to serve below. 

Community Threads

Note-Community Threads is now operated by Home of the Sparrow. Breakthrough is still a recipient of the funds from the thrift store until the end of 2018.

If you’re interested in helping Breakthrough Urban Ministries but are not able to make the trip down to East Garfield Park, there’s another way to benefit the ministry and at the same time be a part of something special right here in the northwest suburbs. Community Threads is an upscale thrift store in Arlington Heights which is run largely by volunteers whose hours can translate into dollars for charities, one of which is Breakthrough. Many Village Church members have participated at Community Threads either by volunteering hours, donating goods…or shopping there! (There are plenty of good deals to be had.)

Here is some information from CT’s website (

Community Threads began as a response to the needs of people in our community. This store is a source of funds to a network of Christian charities that engage with the problems related to poverty. Some feed and clothe the homeless, shelter struggling families and provide a safe place for victims of abuse. Some bring education to children that may be denied it otherwise. Some provide recovery programs for addictions and some provide leadership training. It is our goal at Community Threads to provide our customers with quality merchandise at low prices and turn store profits into grants that serve these purposes.

There’s a wide range of volunteer opportunities, from cashiers, to sorters, to pricers. Shifts can be regularly scheduled as weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or you can even drop in once you’ve gone through a short orientation of the store.

Breakthrough has significantly benefited from the grants given by CT. Please consider coming alongside this ministry. 

VCB Contact: Stephanie St. John

Homeless Intervention: 

  • Meal Group Leader (Manna Ministry): Daily | All Mealtimes 
    Gather a group to provide and serve a monthly meal while building relationships with guests
  • Weekday Kitchen Assistant: Monday-Friday | Daytime Hours 
    Work alongside kitchen staff to prepare healthy meals for homeless guests OR volunteer to serve meals at our women's center during the week from 7-9:30am and/or 11:30am-1pm
  • Shelter Assistant: Daily | Daytime and Evening Hours
    Partner with staff to provide program support, admin help, and build relationships with guests
  • Activity Program Assistant: Daily | Daytime and Evening Hours
    Provide fun activities for guests like spa and game days, tournaments, exercise programs, and team-building. 
  • Skills-Building and Adult Literacy Coach: Daily | Daytime and Evening Hours
    Assist adults with job-readiness skills (6-7pm Thursdays), technology training, or GED tutoring
  • Housing Program Partner: Monthly | Evenings
    Come alongside permanent housing guests through community groups and life-skills coaching

Youth Development: 

  • Academic Tutor: School year: M-F | 3:30-6:30pm, Summer: Mon-Thurs | 9am-3pm
    Pick a day and work with kids grades K-8 in our youth program while building relationships
  • Sports and Fitness Coach: Seasonal | Times Vary
    Come alongside kids in team sports, running and fitness clubs, and healthy living
  • Arts and Science Assistant/Teacher: Fri, 4:30-6pm | sat 10-11:30am | Other times available
    Expose youth to art, cooking, science, business, or technology in 6-week sessions
  • Early Childhood Activity Assistant: Mon-Thurs | 8:45am-12:30pm September-May
    Partner with staff to provide enrichment activities to help children become kindergarten ready

Neighborhood Transformation:

  • Fresh Market Community Delivery Driver
    Breakthrough’s Fresh Market needs a volunteer to deliver fresh food and produce bags to the homes of our senior and shut-in community residents in East Garfield Park.
    Drivers must be willing to drive their own vehicles on a pre-assigned route. Deliveries are the second Saturday and fourth Tuesday of every month, mornings or afternoons. For more information, contact Valerie Davenport at (773) 346-1785 ext. 236 or email
  • Fresh Market Pantry Assistant: 4-8:30pm Tuesday; 7am-12:30pm Thursday and Saturday
    Help alleviate hunger by setting up the pantry, assisting shoppers, and making deliveries. 
  • Food & Supply Donation Pick-Up Assistant: Flexible days and hours
  • Help feed the neighborhood by picking up donated goods from partner groceries and restaurants.
  • Technology Center Assistant: Times will vary
  • Provide one-on-one tutoring or small group instruction on computers and job-readiness.

Behind the Scenes: 

  • Administrative/Event/Volunteer Support: Monday through Friday | 8:30am-5pm
    Use your administrative gifts to assist staff with data entry, phone calls, emails, and filing. 
  • HR/Volunteer Management: Flexible days and hours
    Work with the program coordinator to manage a volunteer task force. 
  • Facilities/Vehicles: Flexible days and hours
    Keep our properties in tip-top shape by volunteering your expertise in maintenance and repair. 
  • Garden Care: Flexible days and hours
    Assist a team of community gardeners to grow fresh produce for our kitchens and neighborhood.