Vineyard worker finds there’s nothing like being there

Mike Pollock volunteers for Catholic Charities, taking donated items from St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood to TurnStyles Thrift Store in Olathe. He also collects food donated by retailers to the Catholic Charities food pantry. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JOE MCSORLEY

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

LEAWOOD — In Christ’s parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20: 1-16), some workers were called early and some later.

You might call the early ones “fortunate,” because the Lord was generous in the sense that he gave them the opportunity to serve him longer, even though they got the same pay.

Mike Pollock, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood, considers himself one of the fortunate ones.

“I think I’ve been a cultivator for a long time,” said Pollock. “I’ve been involved all the way back in various volunteer activities.”

Pollock’s professional career in restaurant franchising led to moving his family several times, and getting involved in the parishes his family joined was a natural thing to do.

At St. Michael the Archangel, Pollock has been involved in the Knights of Columbus, the Stephen Ministry, a Honduras mission and two services offered by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.

“I was talking to a priest a few weeks ago about volunteering while we were on a mission trip in Honduras,” Pollock said. “We were taking a spiritual review that day. I said, ‘Being here doing stuff for people makes me feel really good.’

“He said, ‘That’s good. It should make you feel good. But the underlying reason why we volunteer is because we’re Christian, and it’s what Christ wants us to do.’

“That point really hit home.”

For the past couple of years, Pollock and another man have been volunteering for Catholic Charities.

Every Thursday, they take donated items from St. Michael the Archangel Parish to the TurnStyles Thrift Store at 151st and Mur-Len Road in Olathe. They also take a box truck to several retailers in Olathe and take donated food to the Catholic Charities food pantry at 333 E. Poplar St. in Olathe.

“It was really eye opening,” said Pollock. “No one in this city needs to go hungry. There are plenty of [companies] willing to give the food.

“But there are not enough people to pick it up and get it to the people who need it. That’s the tough part — seeing food go to waste — [knowing] there are people in Wyandotte and Johnson counties who need it.”

If that’s the toughest part, what’s the most rewarding?

Meeting the representatives of the various retail establishments that donate the food, said Pollock. They’re very happy to give something to the community and to work with Catholic Charities.

Has working in the “vineyard of the Lord” changed him? Absolutely, said Pollock.

“The more you’re in the vineyard, I think you have a stronger ability to reach those individuals in the field, because you’re there more often,” he said.

“I can’t emphasize [enough],” he added, “how important presence is — being among the people in need and letting them know you care — saying ‘hi’ to the person in the food pantry and giving them a smile.

“Being present shows them that you’re walking the journey with them.”

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