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. 
The most challenging component of serving has been learning how to do casework. It was unlike any job she's ever had and she was starting from scratch when it came to finding the best ways to approach clients and learning about Anne Arundel County/Maryland resources. As the year progressed and the "logistics" got easier, she is far more personally challenged by the complexity of issues that her clients face- mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, lack of parenting, lack of life skills- and how intertwined they all are.
Rise and shine! Getting ready in my room with my own bathroom in Baltimore, MD
The shelter is housed in renovated WWII Army Barracks. The shelter rooms, transitional apartments and other offices are dispersed among the buildings. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time walking between them.
Preparing for Family Literacy Class. This is a weekly class that the Project SERVE volunteer teaches that facilitates family communication and fun through learning.
Arriving at my office at Sarah's House- a homeless shelter for families in Fort Meade, MD
My office mate and Lead Caseworker at Sarah's House, Betty Sherry. She is always there to offer me guidance when I have a question.
Searching through donated items in our clothing closet. We also provide guests with all meals and personal items at no cost so that they can save their money for after they leave Sarah's House.

Meeting with one of my clients. I meet with each of my 4-7 clients once a week to put them in touch with resources that will help them get back on their feet.

A view of the city as I approach Baltimore on my drive home. With a productive day of work behind me and a warm community to look forward to.
This is where I spend most of my day- completing case notes, sending emails and making phone calls for my clients.
Faith and Kelly making dinner.
Chowing down on one of our favorite meals (Faith's Eggplant Parmesan) with Catholic Charities Director of Community Services, Mary Anne O'Donnell.
This is a mural that we painted together as a community our first weekend together in the house. It reminds us of how our different talents and styles compliment each other.