It’s Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we are celebrating the hundreds of individuals and groups who give their time to fuel our mission each year. In 2021 alone, 283 volunteers gave 11,120 hours of service in our Community Kitchen, Pantry, providing administrative support, and working directly with the people we serve.
Catharine Slover is one of those volunteers who makes our daily work possible.
She dedicates her time to working twice a week with Caritas of Austin’s Supportive Housing Program, assisting staff by helping with tasks like shopping for essential household goods for clients’ homes, delivering checks to rental properties, meeting clients where they are to help complete paperwork, and more.
“The amount of work people have to do to live,” says Catharine when asked about her most eye-opening realization since working as a Direct Service Volunteer with Caritas of Austin. “I used to just think about discomfort, but now I see the massive block of obstacles that [people experiencing homelessness] face every time they want to get something done,” she said.
Caritas of Austin’s Direct Service Volunteers work one-on-one with clients and staff at least 8 hours a week to support build well-being and support client goals. Catharine noticed that her career in news photography and journalism significantly grew her capacity to witness difficult and tragic situations without being overcome by shock and despair. She felt this “skill” might serve her well working directly with people who have lived through the devastating experience of homelessness.
“Volunteers are the force in the forefront of change they want to see in their community through empathy and understanding,” said Hector Sloss, Volunteer Coordinator. “Their support is very important to Caritas’s mission to prevent and end homeless because it makes our mission a community mission.”
As for what Catharine finds most rewarding about the work?
She enjoys being able to make a difference and having the ability to directly help people. Catharine notes, “We don’t know what these people have been through. There’s no reason to sit around thinking about what led them to this place. There are massive obstacles, and we should help.”