April 23, 2021

Catholic Human Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Marks National Volunteer Week— Recognizes Volunteers With Virtual Celebration

The individuals recognized today represent 4,090 volunteers who provided a combined total of 95,911 volunteer hours to the Catholic Church’s local works of charity in 2020.

This morning during a virtual celebration, Catholic Human Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHS) marked the closing of National Volunteer Week by honoring 25 dedicated “Partners In Mission” who made significant contributions to the Church’s works of charity and mercy last year.

CHS, which administers a broad range of human service programs, is comprised of various agencies that serve general community needs including Catholic Social Services (CSS), Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS), and Nutritional Development Services (NDS).

Deacon Franz Fruehwald, Chief Financial Officer for CSS, opened the virtual celebration with a blessing. Mr. James Amato, Secretary for CHS; Ms. Estela Reyes-Bugg, CSS Administrator of Volunteer and Parish Community Relations; and Mr. Ed Lis, Director of Catholic Mission Integration for CHS, also took part and offered remarks on the value of volunteering and faith-inspired service.

In addition to the honorees, those who nominated the individuals as well as family and friends participated in the virtual celebration. Below is a list of those who were honored today.

Bucks County Family Service Center – Mary’s Cupboard

  • Pat Rogers volunteers her time as Team Leader for the Wednesday Volunteer Group. Throughout the pandemic, Pat and other volunteers have worked to streamline food distribution so that clients and staff felt safe and comfortable.
  • Sonja Norton has volunteered at Mary’s Cupboard since 2009. Sonja coordinates food drives, sorts deliveries, stocks shelves, and purchases food items from the local grocery store. In addition, Sonja has helped streamline operations by finding solutions to staff having to carry large donations of food down steps as well as procuring carts so clients can easily get groceries to their car.

Casa del Carmen Preschool Academy (Philadelphia)

  • Emily Trasher is a Notre Dame Mission Volunteer serving as a yearlong full-time Americorps member in the Casa del Carmen Preschool Academy program. Since September, Emily has been fully involved in the restructured effort to provide safe preschool education amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Catholic Social Services Family Service Centers

  • Tim Conrey volunteered his time by transporting bulk food deliveries on a weekly basis from partner agency Caring for Friends to CSS Family Service Centers in Chester City, Southwest and North Philadelphia as well as a senior living facility in South Philadelphia.

Catholic Social Services Immigration Legal Services

  • Kimberly Lauinger is a volunteer attorney with CSS Immigration Legal Services program utilizing her skills to support both clients and staff. Kim assists with legal research and provides essential support writing briefs and legal arguments, assessing cases and more. She also volunteers to answer the CSS intake line, presenting her friendly and energetic personality to potential new clients.

Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence

  • Joanna Stearns has served as a “Companion” to a Divine Providence Village resident coming a few times a week to share stories and pictures. Her husband Paul Stearns brought Joanna for her visits and got involved in helping residents getting off the vans as they arrived each afternoon from workshop. Paul then began to assist maintenance staff. Once the vaccine clinics opened, Joanna and Paul volunteered helping with sign-ins, temperature checks, and assisting the nurses.

Fatima Catholic Outreach Center

  • Aida Hance volunteers her time at Fatima Catholic Outreach Center where she participates in many groups and activities including the Community Garden project. Aida was drawn by her desire to help the Latino community, and has assisted with the opening of a community thrift store, while also providing “motherly support” and oversight for the two Notre Dame Mission volunteers onsite.
  • Bekka Mingioni is a yearlong full-time Notre Dame Mission Volunteer assigned to work in the parish social ministry program at Fatima Catholic Outreach Center. Bekka assisted clients with navigating Zoom and other technology skills so they could participate in virtual meetings for the community garden project or attend online ESL classes.

Martha’s Choice Marketplace – Montgomery County Family Service Center

  • Sister Anne Donnigan, RSM has been volunteering for nearly 10 years at Catholic Social Services in Montgomery County. Throughout the pandemic, Sister Ann went into the office regularly to answer the phone and refer clients to services. She was also a listening ear to those in crisis and assisted with keeping keep track of food donations.
  • Tom and Betsy Nyman have been volunteering for five years with Martha’s Choice Marketplace, faithfully working in client intake as well as the food receiving garage before the pandemic.  Since COVID, they have conducted food drives, fundraisers, and household goods drives in their neighborhood and parish communities 
  • Thom Mrazik has volunteered at Martha’s Choice Marketplace for over five years. Along with his colleague Lori Curtis, he has successfully piloted the Produce Initiative with Penn State Extension Master Gardeners.  This program provides bountiful donations of locally grown fresh produce to the community. 

Catholic Social Services’ Mayfair Park Out-of-School Time Access Center

  • Julie Gang is a Notre Dame Mission Volunteer who provided assistance during the pandemic to assist in the transition of the CSS Mayfair Park Out-of-School Time Program from a traditional afterschool program to a full-day Access Center.

Catholic Housing and Community Services Nativity B.V.M. Senior Community Center

  • Dennis and Denise Mueller: Throughout the pandemic, Dennis and Denise have picked up meals from Nativity B.V.M. Senior Community Center and delivered them to seniors who were shut and in need of meal assistance.

Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

  • Stephen J. Porth is a long-time board member of Nutritional Development Services with a genuine concern for those who suffer food insecurity throughout our region. He has regularly volunteered to serve during the pandemic at large-scale food distribution events.
  • Ella and Lucinda Weaver are grade school and high school students who have volunteered their Saturday mornings on multiple occasions to help with food distribution events during the pandemic. The sisters have assisted with intake of volunteers as well as ensuring smooth set up and break down for each event.
  • Kris Van Hees has volunteered his time at multiple community food distributions run on Saturdays by Nutritional Development Services. Kris and his children Nikolas and Alyanna repeatedly served in very cold weather at each event by carrying food boxes to the long lines of cars coming through these distribution sites.

Project Rachel

  • Katie Vaughn has volunteered with the Project Rachel post-abortion ministry through fielding initial calls, developing resources, and helping to create a social media campaign and digital footprint. Katie was working on completing her doctoral studies in family therapy at Drexel University when she heard about the Archdiocese relaunching its Project Rachel post-abortion ministry. At first, she wanted to do some of her research on the program and its activities and goals but Katie wanted to do more in terms of assisting these women and began volunteering with the program.

Saint Edmond’s Home for Children

  • Saint Aloysius Academy Principal Sister Margaret Fagan, IHM and a few teachers sought local service opportunities for their students. With teacher Christopher Cooney, 5th and 6th graders began to visit regularly with the children at St. Edmond’s Home for Children. Many of the boys developed strong bonds of friendship with the residents of St. Edmond’s and have continued to visit even after graduating.

Saint John’s Hospice (Philadelphia)

  • Tom Fitzgerald began volunteering at St. John’s Hospice just two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began. He has continued to volunteer twice a week ever since. Tom helps feed men experiencing homelessness by serving in the kitchen, usually arriving at 6:30 a.m. Tom also assists kitchen staff in preparing the noontime and evening meals.
  • Laura Drake is a dedicated volunteer and Saint John’s Hospice board member who began serving weekly at Saint John’s after her retirement. She has made significant contributions to the marketing and fundraising efforts of St. John’s.
  • Greg “Forty” Kilby has been a volunteer at Saint John’s Hospice for over 20 years and is an integral part of daily operations there. Forty provides assistance in the dining room and often hangs around after his regular hours are over to help with the evening meal as well.

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Editor’s Note: The Secretariat for Catholic Human Services (CHS) of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia oversees a variety of agencies and programs which respond to people’s material, relational, emotional and spiritual needs. CHS is comprised of Catholic Social Services (CSS), Catholic Housing and Community Services, and Nutritional Development Services.

The CSS Volunteer and Community Relations Program facilitates opportunities for individuals and groups to provide support and assistance to CSS programs in both one-time and ongoing volunteer commitments. For information please visit, https://cssphiladelphia.org/catholic-social-services-volunteers/. Placement assistance is also available for undergraduate and graduate students looking to engage in a social work internship.


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