Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Rainy Day with Bright Skies Ahead

By Caitlin Baummer, Recruitment Associate

So here I sit, on a very rainy day looking out of my eighth story office window onto the city of Washington D.C. It is my last day in the office before embarking on a journey to Tennessee, Kentucky and many other states to follow. I’m a little nervous about catching flights, getting stuck in traffic, remembering about a time change and finding my way around unfamiliar campuses, but I am completely confident in the message that I get to spread while I am on the road (and that Matt told me if I need information, to call him because he’ll be sitting at a computer anyway- Thanks Matt!).

Posing with a family that I served while at
Bethlehem Farm
If anyone had told me five years ago what I’d be doing now, I would have told them that they must have been mistaken. Five years ago, I was a college freshman at the University of New Hampshire, majoring in classical vocal performance and my plan was to become an opera singer. But something happened later that year that would change that plan and my life. That something was an alternative spring break trip to Nazareth Farm in West Virginia. I was hesitant to go at first. I thought I wanted to return home to Chelmsford, Massachusetts and see my high school friends, but my parents encouraged me to participate, knowing how much I enjoyed the volunteer work that I did with my church in high school.

Nazareth Farm is an intentional living community that provides home repair services to residents in the area who are struggling for financial resources. While there, I fell in love with the Appalachian people and region and wanted to find a way to spend more time there. My campus minister suggested that I look into Nazareth Farms’ sister farm, Bethlehem Farm. In the summer of 2008, I volunteered as a Summer Servant for two months at Bethlehem Farm and have returned every summer since. The communities at Nazareth Farm and Bethlehem Farm live by the four values of Faith, Community, Service and Simplicity. Living by these values challenged me to grow in understanding of myself, my world and my relationship with God.

Monday, September 19, 2011

OH! The Places You'll...Stay?

By: Kate Niemer, former Jesuit Volunteer Corps member
I started my JVC time with phrases  from the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the places you’ll go” popping frequently in my head. The sing-song rhyme had me think about the adventure that brought me to do a year of volunteer service through Jesuit Volunteer Corps. 
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
And now I find myself thinking… “Oh the places I will STAY?” Who knew, certainly not me, that this girl from Milwaukee, WI would stay in a place that had only been home for a year… to continue the adventure at my agency… but this time as an employee!
So I find myself, in the same place that I started (a year and a month ago)… yet SO MANY things are different. I have moved away from living in a volunteer community. Yet I still feel the four values (simple living, community, social justice and spirituality) as strong as before.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


By Matt Aujero, Catholic Volunteer Network Recruiter

RESPONSE books.  Check.  Big banner and Catholic Volunteer Network table cloth.  Check.  Pens, brochures, candy, sign-up list.  Check.  Winning attitude.  Double check.  I look over at Caitlin and say, “It’s GameDay.  You got your game face on?”  “Game face!  Rawr!” she says, then laughs at how unintimidating her face must have looked.

Caitlin and I have been preparing, practicing for this day eight hours a day, five days a week.  It was still the pre-season, but this GameDay was real, it still counts, and it was the first one.  And we were on my home court, my alma mater, The Catholic University of America.
Back-to-School: Our first match was on my ol' stomping yards---CUA.

CUA was celebrating its 125th Anniversary by kicking off its 125,000 hours of service year, and we were invited to table among other service groups to the entire student body that had attended a campus-wide Mass at the Shrine.  The Mass let out, and it was off to the races.  But it started slow, only freshmen at first were coming to our table.  It’s the first week of school---these kids are more worried about making friends than what they might be doing after they graduate.  I looked around and saw a huge group of seniors eating their lunch on the grass.  Change of game plan:

“OK, Caitlin, here’s what we’re going to do.  See that big group over there?  I’m taking the books and to them.  Can you be the home base at the table?  K.  Cool.  Wish me luck!”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why do you serve?

Tell us why you serve and win an Amazon Kindle and other prizes by entering our contest! Details are here

Here's some inspiration for your video:

Friday, September 2, 2011

On the Road with Matt and Caitlin

Matt Aujero and Caitlin Baummer recently joined the Catholic Volunteer Network team as our new Short-Term Recruiters. They have been hard at work preparing visits to over eighty colleges and universities across the U.S. We hope you will be able to connect with them while they are on the road this fall.

Matt Aujero brings with him a lot of energy gained from his time as a FrancisCorps volunteer in Costa Rica, where he served as a high school English teacher and Service Coordinator. Thankful for his rich volunteer experience, Matt says “I found out more about the person I am and the passions I have through the service I did. [FrancisCorps] gave me a sense of direction in the way I want to live my life.”

This fall, Matt will travel to schools in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and his home state of North Carolina. Matt is looking forward to spreading the word about service and says, “Now a product of it, I want to reveal to as many people as possible what this type of service can do for people’s lives - shape it for the best, and allow us to become the better versions of the people we’re called to be.”

Recent Catholic Charities Project SERVE volunteer Caitlin Baummer also joins our team as a Short-Term Recruiter. She didn’t have far to travel to get to our office in Washington, D.C. having just completed her year of service in Baltimore. Caitlin served as a Caseworker and Family Literary Coordinator for Sarah’s House, a transitional facility for homeless families. When asked what she gained from her service experience, she said, “It was the opportunity to grow in understanding of my client’s lives and walk with them in a small part of their journey.”

Caitlin is currently preparing her travels to schools in Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, Colorado, and Kentucky. Like Matt, Caitlin is also looking forward to connecting with potential volunteers. She says, “I look forward to the opportunity to continue to live out what I learned by sharing my experiences with interested students and encouraging them to take on similar opportunities to grow.”

You will be able to follow Caitlin and Matt’s adventures around the country by reading their weekly “On the Road” blog updates coming soon. Find out where they are headed by checking out our events calendar.