Column: Volunteers enable Charities to ‘do what we do’

After seven years at the helm of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, Jan Lewis has been succeeded by Ken Williams, who formerly held executive positions at Black & Veatch and World Vision International. He plans to build on Lewis’ efforts to reconnect Catholic Charities with the average Catholic in the pew. Photo by Joe Bollig.
After seven years at the helm of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, Jan Lewis has been succeeded by Ken Williams, who formerly held executive positions at Black & Veatch and World Vision International. He plans to build on Lewis’ efforts to reconnect Catholic Charities with the average Catholic in the pew. Photo by Joe Bollig.

by Ken Williams

When the kids get older, I’m going to volunteer more.

If I can just get that promotion, I’ll be set and my schedule will be much more flexible, then I’ll volunteer. A couple more years, and I’ll have my company right where I need it, then I’ll volunteer.

Sound familiar? For me, it was my career. Each promotion just whetted my appetite for the next one. We all have reasons for putting off what our hearts are pulling us toward.

Webster defines a volunteer as a person who does something for other people without being forced or paid to do it. At Catholic Charities, we define them as angels from heaven. Simply put, our volunteers enable Catholic Charities to do what we do. Without them, our ministry would reach far fewer people in need. We would be far less efficient, and each dollar donated wouldn’t stretch nearly as far.

More than 1,200 volunteers enter the doors of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas each month to support our mission. They comfort the dying and their families through our Angel Vigil program. They stock the shelves at one of our food pantries. They raise funds and sell tables for our annual Snow Ball. They sort through clothing donations and pick up furniture for our TurnStyles Thrift Store. They serve dinner at our Shalom House. They organize and supervise food drives. They help families complete their income tax returns. They visit the lonely. They perform household tasks that enable the elderly to remain in their homes. They greet those in need as they enter our Emergency Assistance Centers. They address and stuff envelopes. They do computer work. They arrange apartments for refugees just entering the country. The list literally goes on and on.

As important as our volunteers are to Catholic Charities, they would tell you that Catholic Charities is equally important to them. Volunteering at Catholic Charities affords them the opportunity to experience firsthand the joy of the Gospel. They are an integral part of animating the Gospel by putting the love of Christ Jesus into action.

In other words, Catholic Charities can also be a form of ministry to those who serve here. This Lenten season, volunteer your time and talent. You will be glad you did.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind” (Heb 13:16).

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