Monday, January 24, 2011

A lay missionary’s first impression of Juarez

Monika Lewatikana, Columban Lay Missionary

The impression that I got about El Paso was really lovely. The physical site of the land is dry and brown with limited vegetation, which doesn’t mean that the people, too, are like that.

Even though I have heard some troubling news about the border, people are nicer. I don’t have to put people in the same box as those who have been doing bad things. I hope to make a pastoral and social contribution among the people here, something which will be helpful for them as well as for me.

Read more of Monika's post

Reposted from Missionary Society of St. Columban's blog at

Monday, January 17, 2011

What did you do for MLK Day 2011?

Each year, the national service movement encourages people to make it a day on, not a day off. Catholic Volunteer Network agrees!

"Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
                                                                      -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Quilt project created last MLK, Jr. Day by Catholic Volunteer Network's new York volunteers

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Lasallian Volunteer

Catherine Calogero is currently serving as a Lasallian Volunteer in Racine, Wisconsin. Walk with her through an average day of her service work and community life through this photo diary.

Good morning from a snow covered Racine, Wisconsin! I am currently living and serving in Racine for a year as a Lasallian Volunteer at John XXIII Educational Center.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Remebering Haiti, One Year Later

Keeping Our Promise

by Betsy Bowman, The Haitian Project ('09-'10), Haiti

When I decided to take a yearlong sabbatical from my job as a teacher at a school that I love, lots of people thought I was a little crazy.  And when I told them I was going to spend that year as a volunteer teacher at a school in Port au Prince, Haiti, many thought I was a lot crazy.  Looking back on it, I started to think I was crazy too.  What was I doing?  I liked my job and my life and living near my family … why did I feel this need to go away for a year?  Though I struggled to articulate it, even to myself, I just knew that it was the right thing for me to do, and that Haiti was the place to which I was called.

Read more

Happy 25th Anniversary, Christ House (a little late)

Volunteers with a resident, Christmas 2008
On Christmas Eve 2010, Christ House celebrated their 25th anniversary. Since 1985, the Washington, D.C. facility has provided medical assistance to more than 4,000 homeless men and women. They celebrated this milestone in their history with a December gala, bringing together volunteers and supporters who have participated in their growth and service. Read more about how Christ House was able to connect with their volunteer alumni and honor their service during the celebration.

Lizzie Bebber, Director of Volunteers at Christ House, took on the challenge of trying to contact all former Christ House volunteers in order to include them in the anniversary celebration as well as update them on the current ways that Christ House is serving the Washington community. “Tracking down 25 years of former year-long volunteers proved to be quite the challenge!” Lizzie recalls. 

They started collecting their contact information in January 2010, almost a year before the event. They had current information for some alumni, and emailed them asking for help in updating the mailing list with other volunteers. With the help of these former volunteers as well as online searches, active email addresses, and Facebook accounts, they were able to locate additional volunteers.

Jim Lindsay, Catholic Volunteer Network Executive Director, was the first Administrative Director of Christ House and supervised the first eleven years of the volunteer program. He and other former staff members shared old pictures of former Christ House volunteers with Lizzie. Lizzie says, “We literally went through each picture and tried to figure out who each person was, what year and in what position they served. With the help of some good memory and a lot of time and thought, we were able to distinguish quite a few folks!” 

After nine months of work, Lizzie and her staff were able to relocate over 130 former volunteers. The alumni received an invitation to the anniversary celebration, and were asked to participate in the preparations by sharing a favorite memory of their time as a volunteer as well as a favorite recipe.

Candle light silent night to close the event
The Christ House alumni are scattered around the country, with some currently living abroad. About 20 of the 130 former volunteers who were contacted were able to attend the celebration. The pictures were used in a slideshow during the event, rolling continuously in the background. The memories and recipes are currently being compiled into a booklet which will be published in the upcoming months.

The memories that the volunteers shared were an encouraging reminder to Lizzie about the impact that both the work and the community lifestyle has on those who serve. “Christ House year-long volunteers have always (and continue to) meet each Wednesday night for a meal and time of reflection together,” Lizzie explains. “Many former volunteers said that their favorite memories were spent around the table at Emmanuel House, the year-long volunteer residence, at those weekly dinners. For some during their volunteer year, the discipline of meeting weekly can be quite a challenge. However, the stories shared communicated the importance of those times together.”

Here’s to many more years of Christ House volunteers serving those in need!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Membership Survey Results Indicate Growth in Volunteerism

2010 FrancisCorps
Evidence of strong growth in faith based volunteer service continues as we are happy to announce an increase in the number of volunteers serving through our network of volunteer programs for the third straight year.  According to the results of our most recent survey, 14,488 individuals served with our faith based service organizations in 2009-2010, the largest number on record, in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 108 countries.  Seventy-four percent of the volunteers were under 25 years of age.

“We at Catholic Volunteer Network are encouraged to see that the number of faith-based volunteers is increasing. In the face of the current economic struggle and human suffering prevalent today, the call to faith-based volunteer service brings hope for transformation in a hurting world,” said Jim Lindsay, Catholic Volunteer Network Executive Director.

Founded in 1963 by Fr. George Mader and Patricia (Mader) Stalker, today we are the leading non-profit association for domestic and international volunteer and lay mission programs, and includes approximately 200 faith-based service programs among its membership.  We are a leading resource for information about faith based volunteer service through the RESPONSE directory, which provides a complete listing of member programs and is available in print and online. 
We also provide networking opportunities and national advocacy for our member programs, as well as program support through the National Conference, Formation Workshop, web-based Resource Library, and Webinar Series. The Webinars provide critical guidance about volunteer programming, and offer training that would otherwise be unavailable for many programs.  About 70 percent of our current members are affiliated with Catholic institutions but programs with any Christian affiliation are welcome.  The AmeriCorps Education Award is offered through many of our programs.  More information is available at

Other survey results include:
  • 14,488 volunteers served in Catholic Volunteer Network member programs.
  • 12,767 volunteers served domestically; 3,068 served nine months or longer (24%).
  • 1,721 volunteers served internationally; 638 served nine months or longer (37%).
  • 74% of volunteers were 25 years of age or under. (This includes 6,771 short-term domestic volunteers.)
  • 23 programs reported a total of 128 volunteers serving with disabilities.
  • 194 married couples served in Catholic Volunteer Network programs; 54 of the couples served with their dependents.
  • The largest single field of work for short-term volunteers was Social Services (47.8%); for long-term volunteers it was Education (31.8%).
  • 94.4% of long-term volunteers completed their term of service.
  • 52% of long-term volunteers entered the workforce upon completion of their term of service. Of these, 41% worked in Education and 21% in Social Services.