By Diana Pascual
Jason Sullivan-Halpern is not a new face to Catholic Charities of the East Bay. After completing his one-year AmeriCorps fellowship with us, which included over 1,700 hours of service, Jason has joined us as our full-time volunteer coordinator. During this time, he has created the infrastructure of our volunteer program, including implementing a volunteer management process that follows national best practices, and recruited over 80 volunteers who served over 2,500 total hours at Catholic Charities with an estimated $67,000 in volunteer services to the community. He has started putting systems into place that include volunteer recruitment, screening, orientation, and recognition in addition to developing new volunteer opportunities at Catholic Charities.
This is an important development for Catholic Charities. A volunteer program provides social service agencies like ours with crucial program and departmental support. Critical Family Needs Volunteers, for instance, help distribute cash rental and utilities assistance as part of our housing assistance program. Volunteer Teaching Assistants help the refugees in Catholic Charities’ Refugee Employment Program learn English as a Second Language and basic computer skills. Our legal volunteers who participate in the free citizenship clinics we host – such as the citizenship clinic taking place on Saturday, October 17 at The Cathedral of Christ the Light in downtown Oakland – help complete applications for citizenship for long-time members of our community. Catholic Charities’ volunteers get involved in our work in many other capacities too. But, just as importantly, we understand that volunteering is also one of the best ways for people in our community to truly learn about the positive impact we have on our clients.
In addition to his volunteer management responsibility, Jason assisted Catholic Charities’ Legal and Refugee Resettlement programs by co-organizing a free clinic for the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole program. He also stepped up to help coordinate the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers during the past tax season. Jason believes that his Americorps fellowship at Catholic Charities has reaffirmed his own motivations to continue helping the agency move children, youth and families from Crisis to Stability to Prosperity.
Jason is especially passionate about social justice, so he focused his education on ethics and political theory while obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at UC Davis (he graduated in June 2014) to learn more about the theoretical debates surrounding and philosophical underpinnings of social justice. His ultimate goal is to obtain his Juris Doctorate in Constitutional Law and help draft and influence federal legislation on social services.
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