Friday, April 29, 2011

Eating Sustainably

As an end to our April Earth Day tribute, please enjoy an article about sustainable eating.

By Brooke Barcheski, Administrative Associate

My boyfriend’s mother is a seasoned camper and hiker, and a lover of all things outdoors. She taught her son well, instilling in him as a child, the mantra ‘leave no trace’ when spending time in nature. If you head up a mountain with a banana, you better come back down with the peel! If each hiker that visited a national forest left behind a piece of trash, imagine what the trail would come to look like.

St. Joseph Worker Volunteers
In the same way, volunteers can think of themselves as bearing that important motto to leave no trace. When volunteers enter into a new community, it is with an excitement and enthusiasm to ‘be the change’. Volunteers are ready to put to use their knowledge and life experiences to serve others. In general, volunteers are placed in communities, cities, and countries new to them. Just as a hiker should leave behind a mountain with no remnants of their experience there, so too should volunteers aim to minimize their carbon footprint in the communities in which they serve. On a deeper level, we are also called to be mindful of the choices we make, and how they affect our own minds and souls.

In an article entitled “Taking Personal Action, The Good Life from a Catholic Perspective: The Challenge of Consumption,” Msgr. Charles Murphy writes “Consumer choices and consumer demands are moral and cultural expressions of how we conceive of life.”

Msgr. Murphy goes on to discuss the dangers of having too much, particularly in a world where so many have so little. In that light, it makes you wonder if you really do need that new something you want to buy, or if that money might better be spent on paying that bit extra to purchase organic produce. One great way to help your volunteers to reduce their carbon footprint is to encourage them to explore the idea of eating sustainably.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Catholic Charities Project SERVE Volunteer

Caitlin Baummer is originally from Chelmsford, Mass. She attended the University of New Hampshire for music performance. She is currently working with Catholic Charities Project SERVE at Sarah's House in Fort Meade, Md.  
When asked what the best part about volunteering has been, Caitlin says hands down- having the support of her community. She could not imagine going through this year without them. It is so comforting to know that there will be a listening ear when she gets home and that although their work may be different, they can learn from each other's experiences and offer each other grace and compassion. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Eats: Christ House

Submitted by Ashley Coates, current Christ House Volunteer.

Ashley serves as the Administrative Assistant for Christ House where she is a Jane of all trades. Ashley loves being plugged into different areas and being a part of so many life stories. Like many volunteers, the Americorps members at Christ House live in community. Sister Marcella of Christ House says "we live in community so that we do not give up". The Emmanuel House residents have community night on Wednesdays, where they spend time doing a devotional, an activity, and eating dinner together.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Simple Lifestyles, Sustainable Service

From earth to table, from farm community to intentional community, the St. Joseph Worker (SJW) Program considers ways that their volunteers can live and serve sustainably and holistically. SJW ministers in five cities around the country. Their Minnesota branch offers placement sites on farms and in agricultural settings. The volunteers participate in the growing and food-processing operations on the farm, as well as serve alongside and minister to the local people.

Andrea Pearson Tande, the Program Director at the St. Paul/Minneapolis office, describes the reasons behind the SJW choice of environmental placement sites:

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Jesuit Volunteer Corps Volunteer

Emma Fabian is originally from the "great" city of Buffalo, N.Y. and she received her bachelor’s degree from Canisius College.  She was highly involved in co-curricular and academic activities. Now, she lives and works in Philadelphia, Pa. As a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (, she serves as a Program Assistant at an organization called Witness to Innocence. They are the nation’s only organization composed of, by and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones. Through this work, she has met some of the most inspiring individuals in the world. For more about Witness to Innocence, check out their website at
Emma says she was driven to pursue a year of full-time service work after college because she wanted to dedicate her skills and abilities to a meaningful cause while also having time to examine her own identity.
Her favorite part of the experience so far has been getting to know her community members, the people of Philadelphia and the members of Witness to Innocence. Emma considers herself lucky to be a part of JVC in Philadelphia because she has had the chance to interact with so many different people every day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good Eats: Catholic Charities Project SERVE

Submitted by Faith Savill, current Project SERVE volunteer

Catholic Charities Project SERVE (Service and Education through Residential Volunteer Experience) volunteers live in community with one another like many Catholic Volunteer Network programs. One of the members in the community eats a vegan diet, so the entire community has shared in creating meals that all of them can enjoy together. Here is their version of Gold Rush Chili - enjoy!

Gold Rush Chili
(edited from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)

1 medium pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon mild chili powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1/8-1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or to taste)
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 15-ounce cans beans (drained or 4 c of black or kidney beans soaked and cooked - feel free to combine them)
4 T fresh cilantro

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Alumni Talk: Top 5 Adjustments

By Carrie Daut, Friends of the Orphans alumna

You don't need to be an Einstein to know that coming back to the States after a year in Guatemala was certainly an adjustment. Ignoring the much more complicated emotional-mental-heart side of it, let's just skip right to the nitty gritty part.

What were the five strangest things to adjust back to?

5. Snow. I came back in January, right in the worst of winter. Snow, ice, sleet. Ew.

4. Being outside and not seeing mountains and volcanoes. This place feels so flat.

3. Basically having a house and a room to myself. Without seven housemates, my life is a lot quieter and a lot less exciting. I often find myself thinking back to our house with the cozy "living room" and the communal kitchen table. And I miss it.

2. Toilet paper goes in the toilet here.

And weird adjustment #1?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is “Going Green” the Christian Thing to Do?

This month, we will be exploring some themes of sustainability and the environment leading us up to Earth Day celebrations. This is the first installment of our Earth Day tribute.

By Jim Lindsay, Catholic Volunteer Network Executive Director

When most Christians hear the word “stewardship,” they probably think of how they handle their time, talent or treasure. But what about being good stewards of the earth? We should seek to be good stewards of all that God has created, safeguarding it until God’s return when all creation will be restored. When we mindlessly consume and live without any regard for what effects our actions have on creation and its inhabitants, what are we really saying about that creation?

The Scriptures gives us direction as to what we are supposed to do with God's creation. But it is often the truth of what's happening around the world that helps us break open the Scriptures.