The Work Before The Work: Collaborating on a Vision Ahead of Chi-Town Salute 

Jun 30, 2022

Our veteran-led mass deployment program mobilizes veterans alongside local partners and volunteers in a single city for a week of community impact. Operation Chi-Town Salute will deploy veteran leaders and community volunteers in Chicago over four high-impact days of service with five partner organizations.


Our annual Mass Deployment program is heading to Chicago this summer, and veterans from all our service platoon cities are gearing up and preparing for four high-impact days of service during Operation Chi-Town Salute. Hundreds of veterans and volunteers will deploy into the Windy City in August to team up with community partners in five different locations, all with diverse needs and goals. 

Our approach is intentional – with an asset-based community development mindset that allows us to put our community partners’ vision at the center of our work. To our communities, it’s so much more than an influx of volunteers on a Saturday in the summer. It’s staying power. 

Recently, a group of The Mission Continues team members, veterans, and community partners from Chicago’s southwest side got together for a visioning session and site visits to discuss needs and impact. This sharing of information and ideas was a powerful first step towards defining best-use service to help five community locations achieve their goals of growth. 

“Today’s visioning session was key for me,” said Cordia Puh, Founder & Garden Manager at the Englewood Veterans Garden & Hermitage Street Community Garden. “It was important to be able to come and see other community partners, as well as our project, and be able to voice how they feel about being selected, acknowledged and valued by an organization like The Mission Continues.  

The visioning sessions drew out for me a lot of things I hadn’t thought about, particularly post-COVID. People in the community feel valued. We know that Englewood matters when we have something like a Mass Deployment of about 100 boots on the ground in August, to come and say ‘Englewood, you matter; Englewood Veterans Garden, you matter.’”

For Chicago Platoon Leaders Rogelio Villa and Nestor Zavala, this work before the work is instrumental in ensuring the veteran volunteers feel a connection with fellow veterans and community members in advance of the service project days. 

“This visioning session was wonderful,” Villa said. “It was a great opportunity to bring everybody together to figure out what we are looking at. What is our vision? What is everyone’s vision?  And I think we realized that we had a lot of things, a lot of common goals, a common vision. And I think having this visioning session brought us together, made us feel a little more comfortable.”  

For Operation Chi-Town Salute, the work continues as the countdown to launch approaches. We understand not everyone will be able to participate in person, but there are other ways you can support this year’s Mass Deployment. Click HERE to find out how you can report for duty in your community.