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Volunteering For. . .Volunteering With

 Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

By Regina Siegfried, ASC

Many of us volunteer for…for food pantries, for immigrants and refugees, for justice organizations…for a myriad of good and worthy causes.  There are people in need who require attention and care and respect.  Consider also with whom you volunteer.  People with whom I volunteer inspire, motivate, and encourage me simply because they are generous enough to show up to work without pay, except that the pay is beyond monetary measurement.

My parish, St. Vincent De Paul in St. Louis, MO, is known for its outreach to the truly destitute.  We have a daily lunch window, twelve nights of evening meals, a clothing window, a food pantry, and Suds of Love, a service that provides bi-monthly free laundry at a local laundromat.  “Suds” has become addictive for the volunteers who provide quarters, detergent pods, and dryer sheets for our guests, many of whom are now regulars whom we know by their first names and washing machine preference.  We’ve become a tightly knit small group that works well together, anticipating needs and helping each other when the event is busy, crowded, and noisy with sloshing washers and guests eager for clean clothes.  I look forward to the second Thursday of the month, probably as eager to work with the other volunteers as I am to sign in Roy who can be relied on to tease me and try to take more than his share of volunteer Cathy’s home-made cookies.

The “Suds” group that I volunteer with motivates me to be welcoming and kind and caring, reaching out to become the hands of Christ, because those are the qualities I witness in their generous volunteering with each other and for our guests.  When things get hectic and promise to maybe spin a bit out of control, we can rely on each other to keep calm and make sure everything runs as smoothly as we can make it.  We’re there for each other as much as we are for our guests.

I encourage you to find a group to volunteer with and discover how the relationships develop, how common bonds, values, and concerns grow over time.  Volunteering with is more than a one-time experience.  Inner growth happens over a long stretch of days; relationships deepen with time spent together in service.  It’s grace.


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