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In the Service of Others

By Jason Sullivan-Halpern, Volunteer Coordinator

Mahatma Gandhi once remarked that “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Those words have always resonated with me. Gandhi’s sentiment has definitely been true for me thus far as I complete 1700 hours of community service as an AmeriCorps Fellow serving as a volunteer Volunteer Coordinator at Catholic Charities. I’ve built quite a lot of character already.

Volunteers from Chevron help clean up our Oakland Center

Volunteers from Chevron help clean up our Oakland Center

My commitment to Catholic Charities stemmed from my sense of civic duty and provided me an opportunity for personal growth. There’s really a multitude of reasons which could have lead me here though: to give something back, bring about social change, meet new people, develop new skills, strengthen my resume, keep busy, earn academic credit, test myself, explore new interests, or develop myself spiritually. Our volunteers often cite one or several of these reasons for getting involved at Catholic Charities when asked “Why volunteer?” Yet, despite our volunteers’ differing motivations, our goals often intersect, so we can work together to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for the community.

That’s why one of our aspirations for Catholic Charities’ volunteer program is to provide more opportunities for just the right volunteer match, enabling more members of our community to get involved in our work: promoting self-sufficiency, strengthening families, and pursuing safety and justice in the East Bay. We’re excited to announce that we have created a total of 16 new volunteer opportunities at Catholic Charities in our legal immigration, refugee resettlement, and refugee employment program as well as our agency’s administration. Catholic Charities’ volunteers can now make a transformative difference in the lives of the refugees in our agency’s care by helping them find housing, connecting them to employers, teaching them English, and assisting them with navigating American public institutions. Volunteers in our legal immigration department can now assist immigration attorneys with helping long-time members of our community become American citizens. Volunteers can also perform some of the day-to-day operations that make Catholic Charities one of the most active social service nonprofit organizations in the East Bay.

During the Season of Gratitude, volunteering is a rewarding way to give back to the community.

During the Season of Gratitude, volunteering is a rewarding way to give back to the community.

Catholic Charities’ staff and community volunteers support each other in their work and is part of what it means for faith based organizations to foster a Culture of Philanthropy: an environment where “philanthropy becomes every person’s responsibility, not just one department, and is integrated in everything they do.” In fact, we consider Catholic Charities’ volunteers to be an extension of our staff, not a separate workforce. Both our staff and volunteers are in their own ways equally committed to our mission, and both either directly or indirectly provide services to our clients.

Whatever your reason for volunteering, your gift of service makes an impact on lives here in the East Bay – even your own life. So consider submitting your Volunteer Application today. Who knows? You might even find yourself along the way.