Volunteer Spotlight: Saint Clement Church
For church groups that volunteer with Franciscan Outreach, providing service to others and developing a community of fellowship are critical components of their volunteer experience. The work they do with our staff and guests, whether in providing a meal or serving at our shelter or soup kitchen, is so very valuable to our organization.
On April 23rd, Saint Clement, a church in Lincoln Park, held their annual service day, sending volunteers from their parish to numerous sites throughout Chicago. Franciscan Outreach has been lucky enough to be selected as one of those sites for the last seven years, and Saturday was no exception. Saint Clement volunteers showed up to our Shelter on Chicago’s west side eager to work as they helped clean and organize inside and around the facility.
In addition to the yearly service day, Saint Clement has been scheduling regular volunteer groups with Franciscan Outreach since 2009, when they began serving meals at our shelter. Every month, Saint Clement volunteers work with staff to provide each of the shelter’s 265 guests with a warm, nutritious meal. Their compassion for the men and women at the shelter, as well as their continuous and consistent support each month, is so critical to the success of our shelter programs.
One of the group’s regular volunteers, Dennis Walter, has been joining Saint Clement on these monthly service nights since 2010. Over the past six years he has had the pleasure of getting to know the guests at Franciscan Outreach, as well as the staff he works alongside. When asked to share a significant moment during his service at the shelter, Dennis enthusiastically recounts the success shared by one of the kitchen staff. “He told me that he went through the Franciscan Outreach program [as a guest] and worked his way up the ladder, so to speak, to become a staff member,” Dennis explains. “When people praise him for a great meal prepared, he tells them “my secret ingredient is that I make the food with love!”
It’s interactions like these that keep Dennis coming back to volunteer. “I look forward to seeing the familiar, friendly faces,” he says. “Whether it be the staff members or the guests who always smile and say ‘thank you’ when receiving their meal. I tell people that it is the greatest and fastest 30 minutes you will experience in serving a meal.”
Another Saint Clement volunteer, Carolin LeBlond, says, “What keeps me coming back is knowing that in two hours I can make a small difference. I love that Franciscan Outreach accepts guests as they are, regardless of what they may be going through, and offers support and opportunities to help get guests back on their feet.” Carolin continues, “I also like the flexibility of being able to sign up during times that work with my schedule and last but certainly not least, I have met some wonderful people during the many nights I’ve volunteered!”
We are so grateful for the service and dedication of groups like Saint Clements. These partnerships are what truly make Franciscan Outreach feel like a community. If you are interested in joining this amazing community of Franciscan Outreach volunteers, please click here!