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​Catholic Charities’ Volunteer Recognition Dinner honors over 50,000 hours of service, 70,000 pounds

February 08, 2016 | posted by Elizabeth Paseur

Topics: Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities’ Volunteer Recognition Dinner honors over 50,000 hours of service, 70,000 pounds of food donations

Catholic Charities would like to take the opportunity to thank one integral part of our organization — volunteers. Volunteers find a way to make the time to come and help accomplish what a few of us cannot do alone.

From January to May of this year, 1,285 Catholic Charities’ volunteers and interns gave over 52,000 hours of service to our community. These dedicated individuals renovated the Guadalupe Community Center, started and expanded the St. Phocas Community Garden, facilitated the move of Precious Minds, New Connections and The Nurse Family Partnership programs, helped us raise over 70,000 pounds of food for 40 Cans for Lent, ran several events and wellness fairs, facilitated the settlement of hundreds of refugees, managed the wellbeing of senior citizens, assisted with displaced women and children from the state facility closings in south Texas and so much more.

Recently, Catholic Charities held their Volunteer Recognition Dinner at San Fernando Hall. The event was an opportunity to thank volunteers and give them something back for going above and beyond expectations in 2015. While all program volunteers were recognized, The Foster Grandparent Program was acknowledged for making an enduring impact in San Antonio for 50 years. Program Volunteers of the Year and the Agency Volunteer of the Year were also recognized. These individuals were truly an amazing help with making the impossible a reality and they constantly make a difference not only in their programs, but in the agency as a whole, through their dedication to the clients Catholic Charities serves.

Agency Volunteer of the Year

Caritas Legal Services — Fred Schellenberg

Program Volunteers of the Year

Guardianship — Phillip Walker

Financial Wellness and Care — LaVonna Stewart

Court Monitor — Marty Lailson

RSVP — Miguel Calvillo

FGP — Trine Lopez

Refugee — Joan Schmelzle

Seton Home — Maria Rocha

Guadalupe Home — Ana Alvarado

Parent Talk — Mendy Kelly

After School and Summer Youth — Valerie Orozco

Food Pantry — Mike Kurz

40 Cans for Lent — Dr. Richard Clemons and Patrick Clemons

St. Phocas Community Garden — Mary Mahlie

Guadalupe Community Center (GCC) Special Programs — Andrew Carrillo

When asked about the value of volunteers, Catholic Charities’ President/CEO Antonio Fernandez shared: “We may not say it enough, but thank you to our volunteers and everyone who helps us provide for the needs of our community through selfless service under the sign of love. We truly could not do it without you.”

In his comments at the event, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, quoted Pope Francis, who often reminds us that we are to be missionary disciples in this era as we work for the New Evangelization.

“Our work of charity not only allows us to be faithful to the commandments of the Lord -- namely to care for the poor and needy among us -- but also serves as the best way to re-ignite the flame of faith in our brothers and sisters,” said the archbishop. “Our charity is a place where others can have an encounter with the living God.”

In speaking to the attendees who represented the many places, ministries, situations, and circumstances where Catholic Charities carries out its mission, Archbishop Gustavo again recalled the words of Pope Francis in his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.”

He ended his talk by recalling the words from Pope Francis’ papal bull which declared the upcoming Year of Mercy: “With our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of divine love in its fullness. ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8, 16), John affirms for the first and only time in all of Holy Scripture. This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously. The relationships he forms with the people who approach him manifest something entirely unique and unrepeatable.”

Elizabeth Paseur is the communications coordinator for Catholic Charities.