In Gratitude to Volunteers

We are taking time this week to shine the spotlight on some very important supporters: our amazing community of volunteers. From serving lunch in the kitchen to helping refugees move into new homes, these are some of the people who are making an impact on homelessness in Austin.

Lauren Gore, Community Kitchen Volunteer

“I am motivated by the difference these meals make in the day-to-day lives of the people we serve.”

Lauren started volunteering as a way to use her background working in a sustainable kitchen to help people in difficult circumstances.

She sees the impact of the Community Kitchen first-hand and says, “Jenn and Brandon are amazingly creative and resourceful chefs, and hearing people say things like ‘Wow this is delicious—this is the kind of stuff I make for myself when I have money!’ is really awesome.”

Lauren is also preparing to help newly arrived refugees through an internship at Caritas of Austin.

Mark Janchar, Housing Services / Supportive Services for Veteran Families Volunteer

“I share the Caritas vision that every veteran should have a home and the resources to achieve stability and self-sufficiency.”

Mark felt personally called to volunteer after his job as a paramedic brought him into contact with many veterans experiencing homelessness. He shares that his father was a physician for the Public Health Service in the Vietnam War, “His service to our soldiers and veterans is an inspiration to me. Every vet that I talk to is amazingly grateful that someone has taken the time to listen to them. After all they have done, I feel this is the very least we can do.”

Kristen Hansen, Administrative Volunteer for the Refugee Resettlement Program

“I’ve been humbled by the wide variety of stories people bring with them to Austin.”

When Kristen began looking for a way to take action on the refugee crisis, she noticed that Caritas of Austin kept coming up in her searches. Helping with the essential filing and paperwork for Resettlement is truly rewarding, she says. “Every staff member I’ve met just seems to be passionate about helping those in need no matter where they come from or what their circumstances are,” Kristen shares. “At the end of a volunteering session, I always feel like at least one staff member’s load is a little lighter, so they’re able to concentrate more on the people they serve.”

Wortham Insurance, Community Kitchen Volunteers

“The impact you can have on another person’s life is often much bigger than you think.”

The employees of Wortham Insurance feel that it’s important to give back to the Austin community, and one way they do this is through serving in our Community Kitchen. They shared that it’s fun to do hands-on work together for an important cause. “Volunteering at Caritas is a great way to step outside your ordinary routine and do some good. I would encourage other businesses to do the same,” one employee says.

Bayley Chang, Apartment Setup for Refugee Resettlement Volunteer

“I wish more people know how easy it is to get involved and volunteer.”

Bayley began volunteering as a way to help meet the needs of the refugee community, one family at a time. She says, “I felt I needed to stand up for those being marginalized.” As an apartment setup volunteer, Bayley helps furnish an empty apartment, making it as welcoming as possible for an arriving family. “By volunteering my time to set up an apartment, it allows the staff more time to work one on one with the clients,” she says. “I continue to be inspired by the resilience, bravery, and tenacity demonstrated by the clients of Caritas.”