Each April groups across the country mark National Volunteer Month and the deeply valuable contribution of volunteers who help those in need with no expectation of anything in return.
Each day in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, men, women, and children give of their time and talents to bolster the Church’s works of charity and mercy. They do this work with joyful and willing hearts.
At The Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence (DGDP), some 27 young people recently spent their day participating in games and activities with residents. DGDP is a ministry of Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CSS) serving men and women with intellectual and physical disabilities.
The April 15 service opportunity was part of a Young Adult Day of Giving – a first-time collaboration between CSS, the archdiocesan Office for Ministry with Young Adults, and the Catholic Charities Appeal.
Volunteering, especially with DGDP residents, “makes a difference in their lives and also within oneself” said Sister Susan Lindinger, SSJ, who serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the program.
“Volunteering at DGDP is immeasurable. One realizes that simple acts of kindness and goodness [can] bring so much joy and smiles to our guys and ladies.”
For the many charitable programs and ministries within the archdiocese, volunteers are a lifeline and serve a crucial partners in mission.
Since retiring, Thelma Mintz has spent over 625 hours volunteering at Catholic Housing and Community Services’ (CHCS) Saint Edmond Senior Community Center in South Philadelphia. Thelma handles the front desk, assists in the kitchen, distributes food, and participates on the Advisory Board.
Thelma, who retired from a school board where she worked with children with special needs, said she loved her job because she felt needed and useful. Now she finds the same enjoyment in volunteering with CHCS because “the feeling of usefulness and serving is what I experience at Saint Edmond.”
“Volunteers are the backbone of our senior centers,” said Heather Huot, Director of CHCS. “Their dedicated service bolsters our ability to engage our center members in a multitude of social and recreational activities.”
In Norristown, a team of over 150 volunteers support Martha’s Choice Marketplace and Community Farm’s mission of building community through access to healthy food. The site is the largest food pantry in Montgomery County.
Similarly, Nutritional Development Services (NDS), an agency of the archdiocese which provides food and related resources to those in need throughout the five-county metropolitan area, relies on its volunteers to extend the scope of its hunger-relief efforts.
Lizanne Hagedorn, Executive Director of NDS, said volunteers not only offer the agency physical help along with their time and knowledge but they also share their charism with all.
“The value of the volunteers who work alongside us cannot be adequately measured.”
Many volunteers say they actually receive more than they give through their service.
Jesse Finalle-Newton says his favorite part of volunteering with NDS is “the satisfaction that comes with knowing I’m making a positive impact right here in Philadelphia.”
“NDS is a wonderful organization that works tirelessly to provide nutritional assistance to children and families who are in need.”
Jill Duink, a volunteer at CSS’ Mercy Hospice, assists with resident check-ins and organization of donations and files. Interacting with the staff and residents is Jill’s favorite part about being a volunteer.
“We are so grateful for the many volunteers who selflessly give their time and service to assist in the many ministries of CSS on a daily basis,” said Amy Stoner, director of CSS’ Community-Based and Housing and Homeless Division.
A list of volunteer opportunities can be found by visiting https://cssphiladelphia.org/volunteer/.
Stoner said volunteer presence and support across all programs allows the archdiocese to continue fulfilling its mission to serve those most in need.
“Our volunteers are not only a blessing to those they encounter, but also truly serve as the hands and feet of Christ.”
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