Challenge to End Hunger
Volunteer Program Aids Local Homeless
Pilot News highlights Volunteer Program to feed hungry.
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PHJC Volunteer Program Begins Homeless Project
As we currently live in a time in history where uncertainty is the name of the game and quarantining and staying home are the rules, what do you do when you haven’t all the resources required to play? For many in Plymouth and the surrounding area this is unfortunately the case; and for several community organizations including our very own Volunteer program spearheaded by Sister Connie Bach, that is an unacceptable reality.
With a 10.9% poverty rate in Marshall County, we are ranked the 45th poorest county in the state stats.indiana.edu, a statistic only exacerbated by the recent pandemic, rising unemployment rates, in addition to the looming end of the moratorium on evictions. Sister Connie and many other community leaders via a recent round table discussion regarding these staggering facts have decided they aren’t about to wait for the game or the rules to change. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday these amazing and selfless individuals consisting of many, many additional volunteers have been coming together to feed the homeless in our community as well as provide them with additional items needed to keep warm during these cold winter months. “Several afghans have been received, and Sisters are feverishly making hats, scarves, and mittens” said Sister Connie. “However we are also in need of hygiene products as well as many other items that can be found on a list distributed throughout the Motherhouse, we are also accepting monetary donations delivered to the Development department earmarked for the PHJC Volunteer Homeless Project” she continued.
As with any incredible opportunity to help the community, leadership has granted employees Volunteer Time Off (VTO) eligibility to assist in this effort. Many have been gathering weekly behind Cana Hall to pack sack lunches and distribute items to those in need as well as lend an ear and a voice for many who feel lost or alone during a time when all any of us want is to be together and safe. Sister Connie states that this is an ever-evolving process and one that will continue as long as housing and safety are an issue for our community members. If you would like to participate in these ongoing efforts, please reach out to Sister Connie for additional information on times and growing needs. Let us also rejoice in our love and faith of one another and the knowledge that despite the situation at hand we are never truly alone when we hold God in our hearts.
PHJC Volunteer in Kenya
What Would You Write in the Sand?
I was thinking about how lovely it would be to walk on the beach today! Our weather here in the Midwest has been a little crazy lately. One day last week it was nearly eighty degrees and the next day we had three inches of snow!
I love to walk on the beach! Recently I took a group of volunteers down to the border in McAllen, TX and Matamoros, Mexico before COVID-19 caused us to shelter in place. We finished our time of service a little earlier than normal and were heading back from Matamoros before flying home to Indiana the next day.
I said to my six volunteer companions, “We are going to take a detour!” We took a right turn and headed east to South Padre Island for a few hours. I had not been there before but knew there was only one way to go – east, toward the gulf! We worked our way into the area and drove around a bit, taking in the endless beauty of the blue sky, water, beach, and sun!
I found a break between two buildings with a walkway leading to the beach and turned into the parking lot. We made our way as fast as we could with the wind blowing in our hair and the smell of the water tickling our noses. Before long, our feet were sinking into the sand as we headed straight for the water. Curious seagulls squawked overhead. People passed by walking their dogs and picking up seashells. We each found our own space where we could “take it all in” and, I suppose, commune with God in our own ways.
Soon the cameras came out and fingers were snapping shots as fast as they could tap the buttons. Before you knew it, I picked up a stick and drew a great big heart in the sand. It seemed almost an automatic thing for me to do! Inside the heart I drew the letters, PHJC. You can imagine why! We gathered around this simple symbol representing who were together. We had created a community of communion with one mind and one heart, and in such a short time!
We each chose to put aside the demands of home and work, traveling over 1,500 miles to serve total strangers. We chose to give of ourselves completely to some of those greatest in need in a place ravaged by poverty beyond what any of us have ever experienced. We were each, in our own way, moved by the Spirit and by Saint Katharina Kasper to make a difference through service, compassion and the gifts of time and energy.
What does this have to do with writing in sand, you might ask? I guess I realized through this experience that time is fleeting, that experiences are sometimes only once in a lifetime, and opportunities come and go like messages written in sand and then blown away with the wind or swept away by the tide. They can be here and then gone before we know it, both in time and in memory.
But what should never leave us is our gratitude for our past experiences, for our loving God who places such opportunities before us and who gives us the will to respond. If we are really attentive, we can link such opportunities together to see how God has always been present in our lives offering this and that choice; opportunities to be enriched, to love, to serve, to grow – and to give praise!
During this pandemic, I am most grateful for the time I have had to pray with and be present to my sisters in our local community. I am grateful for time to create mandalas, write music, work in the yard and appreciate creation. I am grateful to be able to connect through various technologies with family, community, friends and loved ones. I am grateful to check off many items on my “back burner” list.
I am also grateful that, while putting together a photo album, I ran across the photo of the heart in the sand! The photo brought back wonderful memories of experiencing community in communion and recognizing that God is present in everything, especially in my experiences.
For all this and more, I say…