Recently, we asked the Catholic Charities volunteers who operate our Christians are Networking (CAN) program how and why they do it.
Q: Tell me about your collective backgrounds. How does it transfer to your roles as volunteers for Christians are Networking (CAN)?
A. We CAN volunteers come from a range of professional backgrounds and from several parishes across the Diocese. All of us work in professional roles stretching from Human Resources, the Armed Services, Consulting and Advocacy. It is the breadth of our background that enables us to work as a team to provide a range of helpful activities to the men at Christ House and support each other as we seek to help.
Q: When did you get involved with Catholic Charities and why?
A: Most of us have been volunteering for Catholic Charities for more than a decade. We came for a variety of reasons, but all with the same objective. The answer to any problem we face lies in the Body of Christ—those of us who are Christians and members of the Church. We might not have known how we would be called to serve others, but there is no question that God’s work is being done at Christ House. It is knowing we can add something to what is being accomplished there that drew each of us in.
Q: What do you do in your role(s)? What interested you in this specific program?
A: All of us seek to accomplish two key objectives as we volunteer at Christ House. First, to help the men living there on their journey to their vocation and to help them find the path to accomplish that. Second, we hope to enable each of them to connect to a social network that will sustain them after they leave. All the residents at Christ House have faced real challenges that would overwhelm any human being. Reminding people that they have a vocation and that they are worthy of love is what our role is. And it is the most important answer to their problems.
Q: What do you find most rewarding?
A: We regularly say to each other how amazing it is that we learn as much from those we seek to help as any of them could benefit from us. Because Christ House creates such a safe and supportive environment, the men are very open to us. We, therefore, all get to see what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes. We are all asked to do this through our faith, but it is rare to be given the ability to do it as thoroughly as we can at Christ House.
Q: What has been your favorite memory of your time volunteering so far? Can you share a short “success story” about a client you have interacted with?
A: We are fortunate to have many success stories: A young man just out of jail with no prospects and no job underwent a training program we found for him and is now an apprentice in a role that can support him throughout his life. An immigrant, who didn’t understand how to succeed in the U.S., worked with the CAN coaches to learn about good work habits, and thus got a promotion when his boss told him that he was the most dependable employee in the company. A man who hadn’t held down a job in some time and was separated from his children, used what we taught him to get a job and then obtained two promotions and found an apartment where his kids could spend the weekends with him. Obviously, the real work was performed by the men, but, as coaches, helping them through the steps was very rewarding for us.
Q: Is there any information you’d like to share with others who may be considering volunteering with Catholic Charities or at Christ House specifically?
A: First, we need you. The six of us have accomplished a lot, but we need a few more. Second, you already have what we need. We are always surprised what problems we are asked to help address and nearly every time it turns out one of us has some unrecognized ability that is exactly what the men need. It is rare indeed you get to see God reveal Himself, but in this work, it seems we get very close. ✝