A Catholic Charities volunteer dances with Saint Martin de Porres Senior Center participants.

 

Many of us are motivated by faith to volunteer and donate to programs that serve those in need. We want to share the many blessings God has given us. In fact, studies done at Harvard and Notre Dame Universities show that people who are rooted in their faith are three to four times more likely to be involved in their community. We are moved by the Gospel, especially Matthew 25: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Often we ask for nothing in return, but we know that it is in giving that we truly receive. When we lose ourselves in the service of others, we find joy and purpose in our lives. Pope Francis said, “When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts.”

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington (CCDA) relies on supporters and volunteers to reach the many individuals it serves. Thanks to volunteers, CCDA is able to extend its reach throughout the 21 counties of the Diocese and offer comprehensive, caring service to those in need.  Volunteers perform all kinds of work at Catholic Charities. It is a labor of love, and they do everything from writing newsletters, performing one-on-one coaching, and stocking food at our pantries. Volunteers are on the front lines as well as behind the scenes.

The Board of Directors is filled with dedicated volunteers and the biggest fundraiser of the year, the Catholic Charities Ball, is an event that is led by a volunteer committee. One volunteer, whose job it is to sort clothes at the Thrift Shop, said, “All work in service to the poor, no matter how menial or lowly, is holy in the eyes of the Lord.” Mother Teresa echoed the same sentiment when she said, “It is not the size of our actions, but the amount of time and care that we put into them that counts.” Through their work, volunteers learn they have more in common with those they serve than previously thought.

The true motivation of why we serve is not lost of those we help. True charity is a holy virtue that can only be practiced with humility—an understanding that we all are sinners, have faults and need God’s help. At Catholic Charities, through the work of staff, volunteers and donors, our clients come to understand that they are not just a number being given a handout. Through the love they are shown they realize that: they are not being pitied or judged; they matter; the concern for their well-being is authentic. Volunteers remind them that they are precious to God, and their hope is restored.

Our volunteers do not preach. They seek neither accolades nor applause. They know that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). They just want to do Christ’s work and care for their neighbors. Through their faith, they know that the love of Christ has the power to transform. They want to touch the lives of those who are suffering a poverty, whether it be material or spiritual. They cherish the dignity of those who come to Catholic Charities, whether they are homeless, depressed, unemployed or underemployed, financially burdened, hungry, single-parenting, elderly, disabled or imprisoned.

Our volunteers and supporters inspire and affirm for us daily that there is true joy in serving. It is a privilege to work alongside these caring individuals who bring a variety of skills and talents to improve, enhance and expand our work. Again, we have more than 150 wonderful volunteer opportunities posted on our website. There is something for everyone; there is something for YOU. If you feel called to put your faith into action, please go to our website at www.ccda.net and click on the Volunteer button. You can search by program or keyword.  We’re always happy to sit down with you and discuss your interests and availability in person as well. For more information, please contact the Director of Volunteers, Sally O’Dwyer, at sodwyer@ccda.net.

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