Volunteer Spotlight: Meg J.

September 04, 2012

What organization(s) do you volunteer with? I volunteer Saturday evenings at Catholic Charities as an Intake Volunteer. I also volunteer on a monthly night shift for the Homeless Gear Outreach Program.

In what ways are you involved as a volunteer? My volunteering consists of outreach, providing information on programs in the community, giving much needed items to folks that need it (food, clothing, bedding for sleeping outdoors), and a lot of listening. Many homeless folks just need someone to talk to as a peer, someone that will not judge them, but just to offer and ear and advice.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering? My volunteer shift on Saturday nights are something I truly look forward to. When I can make the residents of the shelter feel comfortable, make them laugh, and listen to their stories, it makes me feel wonderful. They all have dreams and ambitions, and I love to see them light up with excitement when talking about their plans. I hope to be that person that tells them they CAN do it and will, some day.

What is your fondest memory of volunteering? My fondest memories usually come from the families that stay at the homeless shelter. Many kids have colored me pictures, shown me with bright eyes the presents they’ve received for Christmas, talked to me about what they want to be when they grow up, how school is going, and the hugs are always special from them. Most of those kids have grown up in shelters and know nothing different. Their innocence is touching. I’ve seen kids take their first steps at the shelter, I’ve talked to grown men and seen them cry from pure hopelessness, and experienced true happiness when a resident tells me they’ve secured housing. Regular life does not stop just because they are homeless.

How have you been personally affected from your experience? There has not been one night that I have not driven home from my volunteer shift that I do not feel blessed to volunteer. Being around the homeless community truly keeps my humility in check and allows me to see that my life, however “bad” it seems at times, is nothing to complain about.

What advice do you have for people looking to volunteer?  Find what your passion is. Do you love kids, animals, elderly – find your niche and just make the call. Agencies are always VERY grateful for volunteers, we are often the people that can make the biggest impact. It WILL be rewarding.