By Jason Sullivan-Halpern
In a recent conversation with Meg Bowerman of Just Faith Ministries in the East Bay, I heard her remark that, “Catholic Charities is not just Catholic and it’s not just charity.” When I look at the people at Catholic Charities of the East Bay – staff, volunteers, and interns – they are all living proof of that phrase. Regardless of their faith tradition, they are living Pope Francis’ challenge to “encounter others” – to move past race, gender, and class to know and respect the dignity of all. And it’s not just about “a hand up to those in need.” It’s about walking with them and understanding their need.
In the Diocese of Oakland, we are blessed with a strong, dynamic community of faith. There are numerous agencies that open their doors to volunteers who, in sharing their gifts and talents, may “encounter others.” We encourage you to visit Catholic Charities for our “Transforming Lives Tour.” This one-hour peek inside is your opportunity to hear from our staff, clients and volunteers as we move youth and families from crisis to stability to prosperity. Just as importantly, it provides inspiration for how to engage and volunteer with our agency.
Whether you’re interested in putting your faith into action, giving back to our community, professional development, or just meeting new people, there are many ways to have that immersion experience here at Catholic Charities. As a volunteer with Immigration Legal Services, for example, you can help long-time members of our community gain legal status, apply for citizenship, and be reunited with their families. As a volunteer with the Refugee Resettlement and Employment Program, you can help refugees resettling in the East Bay find housing, learn English as a Second Language, use a computer, and find employment to support their families. You can also get involved as an Intake, Reception, and Referral Volunteer at the front desk, helping individuals and families learn more about Catholic Charities’ services, enroll in their programs, and find other much-needed assistance in their area.
Are you ready to “encounter others?” Are you looking for an “Immersion Experience?” Check out Catholic Charities’ website to see all of their available volunteer opportunities.