It’s Working! ChiPy Mentorship Next Steps

This triumphant scene is from everyone’s favorite installment of Star Wars: when young Anakin Skywalker, played by Jake Lloyd, fires up his pod-racer for the first time– and it works! The sentiment is akin to running a program, again, and for the first time, returning the desired results instead of error messages.

Well folks, 13 weeks later, I’ve gone from a tinkering script kiddie to a Padawan of the Jedi Arts software development. Some really serious interpersonal changes have happened in a relatively short amount of time:

  1. I came to the ChiPy Spring Mentorship Program with low confidence. I’ve always wanted to be a programmer but high expectations and hyper-critical energy from my folks growing up instilled the idea that I couldn’t ever do it.
  2. Surprised that I even got accepted, I began to struggle with imposter syndrome. While not the first time in my life I’ve experienced such a phenomenon, this is the first time that people I respect and look up to have acknowledged the real battle within. My formal mentor Chris as well as Ray the program coordinator, other mentees, and ChiPy members have made me feel welcome, valued, and capable of participating in this environment.
  3. After all these years letting the creative, innovative part of my brain stagnate, for the first time I feel energized, empowered, and excited to be working on things that fuel and thrive off this type of energy.

That said, I’ve also gotten some serious work done through the mentorship program; three projects to be precise. Chances are, without the structure, rigor, and support of the program, I’d still be struggling to get my first project off the ground. So what DID we do anyway?

  1. Used Python’s CSV library to create a script that automates a previously manual, inventory review process at my day job. The labor intensive process took several hours each week to resolve and the simple script has shaved at least 5 hours per week off my workload. Getting this out of the way first not only was a powerful learning experience but gave me the opportunity to free up more time to study and code.
  2. Using the Requests framework and some API endpoints, build a command line tool which keeps track of the running total cost of meetings attended by federal employees.
  3. Hot on the heels of the meeting tracker command line script, my mentor introduced me to Falcon, a microframework for developing APIs. Using gunicorn and Falcon, I turned the command line script into a microservice which accepts JSON input. I am currently working on a React.js front-end which can connect to the microservice. Any front-end tips/ tricks/ pointers would be most welcome! You can access the microservice on Heroku. It accepts JSON input like in this sample.

This Friday I am leaving for vacation in Alaska with my sister. Even though I will miss the final ChiPy meeting of the mentorship, I am so excited to share with you all a video of my progress and celebrate our monumental successes alongside my peers.

There is a lot of momentum right now and while I am still learning not to compare my progress to other people’s, the ChiPy Mentorship has helped me grow as a person as well as a programmer. I am excited to continue learning about this field, sharing my progress, and seeking the advice and camaraderie of fellow developers.

As an avid scuba diver and student of Buddhism, the journey has reminded me of this powerful Confucian mantra.

Falcon, JSON, APIs, Oh My!

This is the final blog post of the ChiPy 2017 Spring Mentorship, but the experience is far from over! I began the program as a timid, self-concious, and novice programmer. Only one of these three conditions remains true. While I might not be an independently amazing, full-stack developer just yet, the weeks which have transpired since the beginning of the mentorship. Not only do I feel confident I know how to reason my way through most Python-related problems, given some time I can definitely even figure out the implementation!

I have learned how to use Git, set up virtual environments, edit my terminal colors in the bash config file, and gained practice making two command-line tools. The struggle to overcome imposter syndrome continues, yet my proficiency is growing– which makes me feel proud of my effort and grateful to the program for the opportunity to …. program.

So what’s new since last time?

I still have two primary projects contained within the scope of the mentorship. The inventory reconciliation script and the federal employee meeting cost calculator. Since we talked last time, the meeting cost calculator has grown a bit. Since the dataset containing federal employee locations, grades, and salaries is incomplete when looking up individuals by name, a workaround is to query the API using the individuals’ grade and step, equivalent to a rank in the armed forces. This method always returns some non-zero integer which directly addresses a major design flaw in the previous version.

The next step now is using Falcon instead of Requests (process outlined in the first ChiPy blog post). Falcon is a WSGI framework which allows for the construction of speedy APIs to handle simple HTTP verbs: GET, POST, PUT/PATCH, DELETE.

Falcon-on-a-perch

A falcon

So why do this if the program was essentially working before using the Requests framework? Sure, the program “worked,” i.e. a proof-of-concept was created. The goal now is to improve usability of the application and even build a JavaScript front-end that can be presented to the group on July 6!

The program working as a command line script. Dreaming of a day when it can be accessed from the web!

Here’s a sneak peek— but take note that it doesn’t work yet! There are even some lovely notes from my epic mentor Chris Foresman for your enjoyment. Chris was generous to gift me 500 hours of Heroku Cloud Application Platform so we can get it launched!

Happy coding!

#ApplyingForRmotr Advanced Python Course

This post is the third component of my scholarship application for the RMOTR Coding Bootcamp Advanced Python Course <https://rmotr.com/advanced-python-programming>.

#ApplyingForRmotr

Hot on the heels of the ChiPy Mentorship Program, I am proud to have worked on several projects automating the inventory reconciliation process at work and holding federal employees accountable for taxpayer dollars spent in meetings. I have even been volunteering my fledgling skills on a collaborative civic tech project to preserve the public record of presidential Tweets.

I am ready to take my learning to the next level– with the intention of seeking full-time, junior development roles in the technology sector. The Rmotr Advanced Python Course serves this purpose. I believe the flexibility of being a remote course, coupled with the rigorous curriculum and cohort structure, ensures a good fit with my mobile, millennial lifestyle. The course also speaks to making serious headway towards my goal of becoming a professional in fast-moving, creative, and rapidly growing software industry.

The Rmotr Advanced Python Course stands to deepen my knowledge in a variety of key topics such as nested functions, advanced argument passing, special attributes (i.e. dunder attributes: __name__, __doc__, __etc__). Further parts of the curriculum which I find exciting are the topics in Advanced Object Oriented programming such as “magic” methods and polymorphism. Finally, I believe the emphasis placed on context managers and file handing can help me with my presidential Twitter robot project and while I have some experience with Falcon APIs and gunicorn, I have yet to scratch the surface with Pythonic webdev and Flask.

These components of the course stand to empower me with a deeper understanding of computer programming in Python. While I know I will gain much from the collaborative, supportive, team environment promoted by Rmotr, I am also prepared to be an active student and a strong contributor to my cohort. I am excited to jump in and thrive from the energy put put by fellow motivated, smart, digital professionals and I look forward to getting my hands dirty, up to my elbows in code, in an upcoming section of Rmotr’s Advanced Python Course.

The second part of the scholarship application was to make a 1-minute video demonstrating me teaching a skill I am familiar with. Here I am demonstrating the usage of the simple, palm-heel strike in a self-defense context. In Karate we say “1000 times a punch,” meaning it takes thousands of repetitions to be able to deliver an effective punch that does not cause harm to the wielder of the weapon. The palm-heel strike can be learned in one minute and applied in the next minute, if necessary. In this video, I show you how!

On Learning Python: Pixie Killing, Imposter Syndrome

Adventures with Python continued this past month with the Chicago Python Mentorship Program. I’m pleased to announce significant progress with two projects that have been the focus of my participation, both the inventory control script for my work and a meeting cost calculator for Federal employees. However, the biggest gains in the past month manifest not in lines of code, but rather feeling for the first time that, I can do this.

Over cookies and coffee with Ray Berg, Braintree Developer and Mentorship Coordinator, we carefully unpacked two concepts that have been key to my participation as a mentee: pixie killing and the imposter syndrome. In my last post, I referenced my fascination with the “magic” of technology. Crediting my mentor, Chris Foresman, an amazing brain and computer scientist for Sprout Social, I have been able to learn a tremendous amount about why these lines of code I type into Atom can direct a computer to behave in a certain way– accomplishing complex tasks automatically. While True: this does take some of the sorcery out of technology, it has made me a more competent and confident budding programmer.

Confidence is key to being successful in this (or any field). The Atlantic wrote recently about a confidence gap that exists between equally qualified women and men performing the same work. Making the decision to build my skill set and move towards the tech industry has raised a lot of questions. Can I even do this? What am I doing here trying to talk the talk with so many well-qualified and experienced programmers? Am I an imposter? Imposter syndrome is a real issue defined by the American Psychological Association. And the issue of feeling like a fraud isn’t new, even in the wild west of software engineering.

http://pre11.deviantart.net/a182/th/pre/i/2010/120/b/c/the_imposter_by_yastach.jpg

There are lots of folks willing to help overcome these issues of confidence and self-doubt in the computing community. If you’re a mentee in the program and this is on your mind, let’s talk about it! Or talk to your mentor. Or one of the coordinators. You can also look here. Or here. Or here.

Additionally, this is the first time that I’ve built a program that carries out several complex tasks simultaneously in order to return the desired output. Several times throughout the process I found myself feeling overwhelmed, confused, lost, and generally anguished. But yet again, I was reminded that I’m not alone in facing these challenges. In addition to the helpful community on Slack, Chris introduced me to a new strategic approach to programming, “chunking.” Essentially breaking up the larger program into smaller, more manageable components, testing these components individually, and then, once working integrating them with other “chunks” of code to hack together a working prototype. Chunking is also an excellent way to debug when errors happen. Directing the computer to return information that the program ought to have gathered by certain points in the operation, the savvy programmer can better see where the error might be originating.

Cool, so I learned some stuff. But what have I actually done with it? Part of my job used to involve a tedious, weekly manual review of inventory manifests. The process required me to compare a warehouse and an office manifest and account for discrepancies greater than 500 items. Passing this data into two CSVs allowed me to lean on Python’s built-in CSV library to build a script which completes what previously took hours out of my week in under 5 seconds.

Items that diverge by more than 500 stock are printed.

In the script above, item numbers that diverge by more than 500 stock are printed. Other items that appear on one list but not the other are parsed with the exception handler and printed as a double-check for the operator (me). Shoutout to fellow Chicago Pythoneer and ChiPy member Ryan Koch for his help with exceptions.

A less practical but more fun project nearing completion is a meeting cost calculator for Federal civilian employees. The user enters all the attendees at a meeting, using requests, Python pulls the public employee salary data from an API, and the cost of the meeting in calculated in real time.

I’m having a blast and am looking forward to continuing to share more with my fellow mentees and the Chicago Python community!

Protesting doesn’t “DO” anything

The other day a colleague told me that he doesn’t understand why people block the streets and disrupt his commute to protest. According to him, protesting doesn’t “DO” anything.

Immigration Ban Protest at Chicago’s Federal Plaza | source: wikimedia

When I questioned him further he told me “no serious policy change” has come about as a result of protest action. After I cited the civil rights movement of the 1960s, I was told “well that was different.”

Why?

These protests sprung from the centuries-old, systemic oppression of people of color by whites. The entire movement can be attributed to a marginalized minority group with no other course of redress. A government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” consisted and served only the interests of white Americans. Folks of color, primarily black people, were so disenfranchised and downtrodden by the societal apparatus that they had no other way to express themselves, vent their frustration, or be heard.

In the days before the Internet and social media, taking to the streets was akin to sharing a status or posting to a trending hashtag. Standing up for what you believe in, disrupting a majority group’s privilege, being heard, and being seen is, quite frankly, DOING a lot.

Congressman John Lewis as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is beaten by white police officers on March 7, 1965. | source: US Embassy The Hague

Being in the streets, eating up government resources, reminding the majority that America does not stand for tyranny, and disrupting a status quo that seeks to dehumanize and disenfranchise minority groups calls attention. It calls a lot of attention.

But what about “counter-protesters”? Don’t they call a lot of attention too?

Today: A Trump rally where a black woman is beaten and verbally abused. Is it so different from a crowd of white people beating, fire hosing, and turning dogs upon black people in the streets?

Today: “Counter-protesters” in Berkeley who beat victims senseless while the police look on with indifference, or are complicit themselves. Dallas. Ferguson. Detroit. Cleveland. Baton Rouge.

A 1942 sign in a Detroit suburb. Make America Great Again? | source: wikimedia

So “counter-protesting” is not a real thing. It’s a term coined by modern day oppressors to whitewash acts of intimidation. Extra-judicial killings of minorities are not new to America. The shame of lynching, abuse, and systematic violence as a form of oppression continues.

The extra-judicial killing, lynching, of Laura Nelson in May 1911. | source: wikimedia

Recently race-based violence has superseded justice and imposed death sentences upon Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, and Laquan McDonald. for being of color. And it keeps happening. Again. And again.

So the next time you hear someone speaking from a place blinded by a history of privilege, check them. Check yourself. And acknowledge that protesting is a legitimate way of DOING something. Anything. For some people, it’s the only option they have.

ChiPy: Python, Snake Charming, and Civic Tech

ChiPy (pronounced ‘chi,’ as in “chip,” ‘pee’) is a Chicago-based Python user group. Opening their doors to members of all-levels, ChiPy is a supportive space where novice programmers like me can sharpen their skills in a non-judgmental community. I was thrilled to be part of a small group selected to participate in ChiPy’s sixth iteration of of its nationally acclaimed Mentorship Program.

Upon embarking on this 12-week journey into the world of computer programming (which turns 70 today), I was fascinated with the magic of technology. Learning Python, to me, was akin to charming snakes. The earliest records of snake charming can be traced back to ancient Egypt where charmers acted as mystical healers and consultants to their clients. Using their magical ability to charm snakes, snake charming grew into a venerable and respected profession in the ancient world.

Fast forward to modern times, and I find myself enamored with the power of computing. As a full-time bureaucrat and millennial by birth, I find these components of my identity at odds. Why am I struggling day in, day out to use labor-intensive, manual processes on geriatric computer systems when, as Code for America’s Chicago Brigade Leader, Christopher Whitaker writes in his book, we have the power of a 1950s supercomputer in our pockets? As I was completing a weekly manual review of thousands of lines of XML containing addresses and order numbers, and comparing two CSVs side-by-side in Excel, I couldn’t help but think: there has to be a better way.

But how?

As a digital marketer by profession in the public service industry, I’ve been a regular attendee of Chi Hack Night, a weekly civic technology hackathon. Notably I supported the Chicago Nursing Home Search project by translating marketing graphics into Spanish for their launch. I also document the pre-hack meetings for the Chicago chapter of Young Government Leaders. While using my talents to support the civic tech movement is rewarding, I couldn’t help but notice all these cool applications changing the face of how social services and the public good can intersect with modern innovation in the digital age.

Yet I barely had the skills to create a basic HTML website from another developer’s template. Reenter ChiPy.

I am simultaneously humbled and floored to be working with my mentor Chris Foresman, a senior developer with Sprout Social, Ars Technica contributor, former indie record producer, dad, and all-round badass.

In the three weeks that we have been working together, I have used the Python CSV library to automate what was once a tedious, manual process in my day job. Chris’s Purdue computer science background really adds an interesting level of theoretical depth on how each line of code is parsed by the operating system and executed by the computer’s hardware. I find that my mentor’s formal education combined with a successful career as a technology writer and over six years of professional experience as a developer makes for an incredible learning experience. The patience and wisdom that come from having a three-year-old son at home also aren’t lost on me and greatly appreciated.

Next up, Chris and I plan to use Beautiful Soup and Requests to build an app that calculates the cost of meetings conducted by federal employees. Another tool I hope will encourage attention to transparency, efficiency, and efficacy in my line of work.

Image result for requests http for humans

Towards the end of the 12-week experience, I hope to have time left to pick Chris’s brain about APIs.

Free Maribel Trujillo Diaz

Photo courtesy the Trujillo Family.

CLINIC needs your help as we work to keep Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a mother of four from Hamilton, Ohio, from being deported back to Mexico, a country she has not called home in 15 years. Currently her deportation is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11.

Maribel is the primary financial provider for her family, which includes a three-year-old child who suffers from seizures and a husband who is unable to work full time. She was brought to Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s attention in 2007 during an immigration raid at a Koch Foods, Inc. chicken plant. She was not charged with a crime then, and has complied with her mandatory check-ins over the years.

During her April 3 check-in, she was told she was not a priority for deportation, and to come back in May. Nevertheless, she was picked up by ICE two days later, while on her way to work. Maribel is the latest victim of inconsistent immigration policies and practices by the current administration. We are told recent arrivals and people with criminal records are the priorities for deportation, but more often people like Maribel are being taken from their families.

We are including CLINIC’s press release expressing our outrage surrounding Maribel’s detainment and scheduled deportation, as well as a statement from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Here are a few news stories telling Maribel’s story:

·        Cincinnati.comhttp://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2017/04/06/archdioese-cincinnati-calls-scheduled-deportation-fairfield-mother-cruel-and-unnaceptable/100117634/

·         The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/06/ice-immigration-maribel-trujillo-deportation-mexico

·         WHIO: http://www.whio.com/news/local/mexican-woman-with-work-permit-detained-ice-near-her-fairfield-home/eGCbXjLwhao8zvCg53sXqM/

·         The Hamilton Journal: http://www.journal-news.com/news/local/mexican-woman-with-work-permit-detained-ice-near-her-fairfield-home/eGCbXjLwhao8zvCg53sXqM/

·         The Catholic Telegraph: http://www.thecatholictelegraph.com/archdiocese-decries-ice-removal-of-mother-of-four/40844

·         Fusion: http://fusion.net/ice-seized-a-mother-of-special-needs-kids-with-no-crimi-1794090284

·         Univision: http://www.univision.com/noticias/inmigracion/el-dilema-de-una-madre-indocumentada-detenida-en-ohio-que-hacer-con-sus-4-hijos-estadounidenses

We are generating support by collecting signatures with this petition, and amplifying our message to ICE (@ICEgov) and the Department of Homeland Security (@DHSgov) using the hashtags #FreeMaribel or #MaribelLibertad. Specifically, supporters are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to speak up for Maribel and work to have her released.

Ohio residents, especially, should to contact Sens. Rob Portman, R-OH, and Sherrad Brown, D-OH. Portman can be can be reached via fax at 614-469-7719, and his Twitter handle is @senrobportman. Brown’s twitter handle is @SenSherrodBrown.

Sample tweets include:

·         I support the release of Maribel Trujillo! Her family needs her. @ICEgov @DHSgov #FreeMaribel

·         Making immigrants like Maribel leave does not make the country safer. It only terrorizes vulnerable people. @ICEgov @DHSgov #FreeMaribel

·         @ICEgov @DHSgov Returning Maribel to Mexico would put her life at risk, and potentially the lives of her U.S. citizen children. #FreeMaribel

·         @ICEgov @DHSgov Separating young children from their mother will cause unnecessary harm. I am against #detention and #deportation. #FreeMaribel

Here are some message points on which we want the conversation to focus:

·         Maribel is the primary breadwinner for her family. Deporting her would leave four U.S. her children without their mother’s care, or potentially force these citizens to leave the only home they have ever known for a country they’ve never even visited.

·         Maribel fled her home state in Mexico because of the extreme violence and terror inflicted by gangs and cartels. Her father was a victim of that violence less than two years ago. It is irresponsible to send her, and potentially her U.S. citizen children, into such harsh conditions.

·         For years under previous administrations, the U.S. government was not concerned about Maribel because she was an upstanding member of her community. Now, the current administration is using her, and others like her, to “make a point” that they are being tough on immigration. Taking immigrants without properly notifying their families and attorneys is unacceptable. The U.S. government should not be in the business of making people disappear, or harming families to push a political agenda.

·         As a lay leader in her parish, Maribel is an important part of her community. Last year, when Maribel was close to deportation, thousands of her supporters throughout Butler County and Cincinnati sent letters, pleading for her to stay. A woman like Maribel, tied to her community and working hard to support her family, is no threat to public safety and is not a flight risk.

If you are in or near Cincinnati, Ohio, please encourage people to participate in the “Mercy for Maribel” prayer service at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 9, to pray that she will not be deported, but be allowed to remain with her loving family in Hamilton.

Participants will gather at St. Joseph Church, 171 Washington Street, Hamilton, Ohio 45011, which is at the corner of Second and Washington Streets.  From there, they will pray the rosary in a procession from the church to the Butler County jail, about a 10-minute walk away.

Please follow our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter (@cliniclegal) to stay up-to-date on Maribel’s case. We are also working to reopen her asylum case in the meantime.

Make Big Waves in Indigenous Guatemala

TL;DR

The Alpha & Omega English Academy was a cornerstone of my Peace Corps service.

Alpha y Omega in Spanish, strives everyday to make great things possible in rural Guatemala for children (and adults) of all ages. With a focus on experience-based language acquisition, Alpha & Omega is directly breaking a cycle of poverty by bringing the opportunity to learn English, participate in language and culture exchanges with Anglophone visitors from outside of Guatemala, and provide valuable experience to youth in a town that was heavily impacted by the Guatemalan Civil War.

In Guatemala, the ability to speak English is highly prized.

Inglés enables its speakers to work in call centers, for international development organizations (which are numerous in the beautiful Guatemalan countryside and bring much-needed foreign money to cash-strapped villages). Furthermore, English speakers can take the TOEFL, a standardized test which measures understanding and comprehension of the English language. This exam is a requirement for most international applicants to American universities at the undergraduate or graduate levels.

Alpha & Omega has built itself up by its bootstraps and I am incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to be involved with its creation since inception.

I have loved everything that AyO has been working on from the early days: cobbling together free classes for community members, setting up meetings with the Guatemalan Ministry of Education to get approval for the school’s charter, striving to find stable space, recruiting students, running marketing and publicity campaigns, and everything in between.

Now, more than ever, the school needs your support to expand its services to a larger area.

Never before has this school solicited donations from Guatemalans, NGOs, or the general public. And never before has your support been more critical. Alpha & Omega is a self-sustaining entity, but your support is necessary to continue building for Guatemala’s future.

In a country where homicide, violence against women, impunity chronic malnutrition, and structural inequality are some of the highest in the world– it is imperative that we invest in the noble and necessary work of Alpha & Omega.

Please join me in supporting Alpha & Omega English Academy’s push to expand services in rural Guatemala!

https://www.gofundme.com/2r0viuk

Check out AyO on Facebook or visit their website.


TL;DR — GIVE MONEY IT’S WORTH IT.

Peace Corps: One Year Later

July 17, 2016 marks one year since I closed my service with the Peace Corps in Guatemala. Since I was a child, I dreamed of traveling to a remote pocket of the world with nothing more than I could carry. Living off the land, the people around me, and striving for something larger than myself, I forwent the trappings of modern life and headed south to the Land of the Eternal Spring.

I left the US naïve, full of idealism, and ready to play savior in the developing world. Little did I know, my two years in poverty would teach me more about myself and humble me before the kindness, compassion, and solidarity I felt from and with the people of my community.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of closing one of the most challenging, revealing, enlightening chapters of my life. Since leaving Guatemala, I have become a stronger, better, more self-aware version of myself.

In celebration of the two years I spent in the Heart of the Mayan World, I would like to share with you the most popular blog posts of my service—thanks to you my friends, family, and supportive readers across the globe!

Top visited posts during service:

  1. [food] Sweet Bread of Guatemala
  2. [food] Tamales vs. Chuchitos
  3. [culture] Who Let the Dogs Out? Guatemalan Style
  4. [food] Gringo in Guate: Paternas
  5. [culture] Mayan Superstitions

Celebrating Peace Corps Week:

Snapshots of Guatemala:

CHIditarod XI

Friends, family! I am happy to announce that I will be participating in the 11th annual CHIditarod.

CHIditarod is Chicago’s 100% volunteer-driven epic urban shopping cart race, charity food drive, costumed beauty pageant, talent show and chaos generator, all in one. It’s a micro-grant fundraiser for the CHIditarod Foundation, and probably the world’s largest mobile food drive, benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

I will be braving the ice and snow of Chicago’s winter to dress as Scooby-Doo with 4 other valiant RPCVs. As the Mystery Team, we gallivant about the world attempting to solve various social issues each member holds dear to their heart. Community gardening, women’s empowerment, marine conservation, and animal rights count among these causes. Together we unveil that behind each of these seeming intractable ails of the modern world- just like the other ghouls, goblins, and ghostly apparitions our town fears- there is a reasonable solution.

Mystery, Inc. is about to embark on its latest adventure, the quest to vanquish an alarmingly large villain in our own backyard: Hunger. Through their participation in the 2016 CHIditarod, we hope to raise as much non-perishable food for the Greater Chicago Food Depository as possible. To date, this event has raised over 100,000 pounds of food for our Chicago neighbors.

Chiditarod 2014 & 2015

Please support us by making a donation to the cause via our team’s page on Razoo.

Your generous donation supports grassroots, hunger-fighting initiatives. CHIditarod parters with food banks, urban farms, educational programs for children in Chicago Public Schools, mobile farmers markets, and more!  Thank you so much for your generous contribution, it makes a world of difference.

Upon commencing a sabbatical from Mystery Inc., the five members traveled across the world in pursuit of fulfilling work and the promotion of world peace. Their colorful history as a crime-solving team had oddly prepared them well to tackle social issues far and wide. Join the Mystery Team in their latest adventure against an alarmingly large villain: Hunger. ZOINKS!

As Peace Corps volunteers we engaged in the search for creative, fun solutions to difficult problems. After service, we remain committed to confronting hunger, a major issue in our new home of Chicago.

Fred Jones, worn out from the stress of Mystery Inc. and overwhelmed by the tightness of his ascot, set out for Senegal, West Africa, in search of a new experience. Upon the return to his motherland, Fred has enjoyed bicycling to breweries and pursuing the search for the perfect new ascot.

Miles Conant as Fred Jones

Danger-Prone Daphne, after being evacuated from Ukraine, has set roots in Chicago. Despite being back in the US, her love for vodka and adventure continues! Daphne can now be found marathon training with Scooby. By the way, after Daphne was evacuated from Ukraine, she returned to an active war zone to pick up her dog who now lives safely in Illinois.

Rachel Story as Daphne Blake

Velma jetted off to Morocco to solve a mystery when she lost her glasses back in the US! Luckily she solved the mystery of Moroccan Arabic and got a new pair. When she isn’t solving mysteries Velma likes sing with her choir, work on her cooking skills, and day dream about her next adventure.

Lexy Huber as Velma Dinkley

Shaggy, having been surrounded by a perpetual haze all of his life, awoke one day to find his aspirations dissipated into smoke. Realizing nothing of merit had been accomplished in his life thus far (beyond training a dog to giggle); he joined the Peace Corps and took off to the other side of the world. He’s recently moved back to Chicago. Shaggy has since donned a tie, got a haircut, and found a real job while still attempting to maintain that hippie spirit.

Mike DeLadesmo as Shaggy Rogers

Scooby Doo recently arrived in Chicago after pursuing good food and cheap beer in Guatemala. Between snacks, he can be found pursuing his passions for scuba diving and marine conservation.

Yours truly as Scooby-Doo!

For those of you in the Chicago-area, the CHIditarod will take place on March 5. You can come out and support Mystery, Inc. in the battle against hunger!

Please support us by making a donation to the cause via our team’s page on Razoo.

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