When it comes to getting outside and enjoying a beautiful Chicago day, Jenny Achuthan doesn’t need much coaxing. In fact, she’s often looking for ways to make new connections and try different opportunities. You could say this zest for life played a role in her involvement with Envision Unlimited.
Achuthan has been a volunteer since 2017. Given her love of cycling, our Buddy Biking program seemed like a natural fit. It sounded like a fun experience, and she was ready to jump in.
Today, you’ll often find Achuthan among 10-15 volunteers who pair up with our members for weekly rides along the 606 Trail near our Westtown Center.
“It’s really interesting to see people’s reactions to it,” she said. “You can see people are noticing. … We’re quite a group.”
But over the past several years, the experience has become more than just an opportunity to cycle. Achuthan also appreciates the friendships that she has made with Envision members. Through countless interactions with them, she has learned about their personalities and interests. When she arrives for Buddy Biking or other activities, members are happy to see her, and she’s equally excited to see them.
“I’m very grateful for that experience,” she said.
She has particularly formed a special bond with member Marcus, one of her favorite Buddy Biking partners.
“He’s like having a boombox behind you,” she said. “He has a special gift. ...He loves leap years. He loves birthdays.” If you give him your birthday, she said he can tell you the day of the week that you were born.
Achuthan always had a heart for philanthropic work. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, she worked at a nonprofit, creating programs for pediatric cancer patients. Now that she’s an empty-nester, she said Envision has given her a purpose beyond raising children. And she doesn’t have any plans on curbing her volunteer efforts.
“It becomes such a part of what I do that I don’t think about it analytically,” she said.