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Volunteer Appreciation: Refugee Resettlement and Employment Program Get a Big Boost

By Jason Sullivan-Halpern

As the volunteer coordinator at Catholic Charities of the East Bay, I have seen our volunteers do some pretty extraordinary things to help the community. You don’t have to look any farther than our Refugee Resettlement and Employment Program to find some of these outstanding individuals. As a measure of thanks and recognition, we want to take a moment for volunteer appreciation.

Deanne Stone, Ann Livingston, Susan Ryan, and Monica Moore have been helping refugees from over 35 different countries around the world to learn Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) weekly over the last 6 months at Catholic Charities’ Refugee Employment Center at St. Anthony’s Parish in Oakland. In addition to assisting the class’ Instructor with checking students’ work, leading group activities, and answering students’ questions, Deanne, Ann, and Susan have even brought some of their own ESL lessons and activities from home to share with their students. They have certainly exceeded all of our expectations. Daniel Crose, the VESL Instructor for Catholic Charities’ Refugee Employment Program commented: “Deanne, Ann, Susan, and Monica have been first-rate volunteers helping out in the teaching of our refugee population here at CCEB.  They have shown themselves to be all of the following: engaged, caring, consistent, competent, punctual, and (finally) invaluable.  I couldn’t have asked for more from our volunteers. They’re all, without exception, the very definition of what a high-value volunteer can and should be.  On behalf of my students and CCEB, I thank them wholeheartedly for their efforts.”

Intern William Blackmer poses with Sister Elisabeth and Hana Toma, from our Refugee Resettlement Program

Intern William Blackmer poses with Sister Elisabeth and Hana Toma, from our Refugee Resettlement Program

Catholic charities also said “Farewell!” to another outstanding volunteer in our Refugee Resettlement Program this August. William Blackmer, an East Bay resident, just completed 250 hours of volunteer service as a Case Management Assistant for his undergraduate internship program at Wheaton College in Boston, MA.  During his time as an intern at Catholic Charities, William assisted Case Managers with finding refugees housing before they arrived to the United States, helping refugees apply for social service benefits from the U.S. government, and tracking refugee families’ progress through the resettlement process. “I definitely believe that I have learned skills [at Catholic Charities] that I can apply to my future career,” William commented. “Overall, I had a wonderful experience interning at Catholic Charities.”

We appreciate all of you who contribute your time and talent to help Catholic Charities move youth and families from Crisis to Stability to Prosperity. Are you looking for the right volunteer opportunity? Check out Catholic Charities’ website for the right volunteer match.