Archdiocese offers summer volunteer opportunities

June 18, 2013

HOUSTON — Every year, thousands of volunteers donate countless hours in service to others. Their dedication assists many non-profit agencies and outreach services of the Archdiocese to fulfill their mission and provides much needed support and services to residents of the Houston-Galveston area. 

Paule Anne Lewis, executive director at San José Clinic, said that volunteers make it possible for the clinic to operate.

“San José Clinic has been supported by the Houston Community for 91 years,” she said. “The countless hours served by doctors, nurses, dentists, clinical support staff and administrative volunteers is what has kept San José Clinic going for all these years.”
San Jose Clinic provides quality health services to the uninsured and under-insured. The clinic relies on patient care volunteers who provide direct health care to patients, and patient support volunteers who give their time without providing direct health care. 

Their needs include medical professionals such as physicians, nurses and LVNs, medical assistants, dentists, pharmacists and more. Opportunities to provide administrative help, assistance with patient and fundraising events, or translating into Spanish are also available.

But patients are not the only ones benefitting; volunteering is a great way for people to build a skill-set, learn new things or make new friends. 

The opportunities also help students at the Catholic high schools within the Archdiocese who are required to complete up to 100 hours of service work prior to graduation, and many school and parish-based student organizations require members to complete volunteer hours.

At St. Agnes Academy, students study the Church’s teaching on social justice and select a project or agency devoted to at least one of the teachings. 

Students not only develop a deep commitment to social justice and making a difference in the world, they discover that “their service projects are life changing — they are put in touch with a side of life they have not experienced,” said Deborah Whalen, principal at St. Agnes Academy. “They come away with a healthy appreciation for their own lives and what they have been given; and in turn, they develop compassion for those who are not as fortunate. Many of our graduates choose a career path as a result of their service experience — social work, medicine, law and education. If nothing else, service work opens their hearts and minds to the suffering that exists all around us.” 

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is a grassroots, volunteer-based, direct-aid organization that helps people in need get back on their feet. 

They provide short-term financial, material and emotional support and work person-to-person through advocacy, education and referral efforts to break cycles of poverty, empower people and promote self-sufficiency. 

SVdP has opportunities across the area for people of all ages. Individuals or groups can help in their resale shops, food pantries, in the donation and distribution center or administrative offices. 

Volunteers working in pairs can also conduct home visits during which they talk to and pray with individuals, assess their needs, give referrals and provide assistance, such as paying an electric bill or providing food. 

Angela House is another great place to volunteer. Founded in 2001, it is a residential recovery community for women who have been incarcerated. Its goal is to establish a community of women who respect themselves and each other, and who are committed in working for their own empowerment as well as the empowerment of their families and each other. 

Their program enables women to make the changes in their lives so they do not re-enter the prison system.

Volunteers at Angela House often find that their “hearts are changed by the experience of putting a face to those we refer to as ‘ex-offenders,’” said Sister Maureen O’Connell, O.P., executive director. Angela House welcomes volunteers of all ages. 

Last, but not least, there is Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Their need for volunteers is endless. Volunteers (either individual or groups) can serve in many ways, including helping refugee children get enrolled into a school, being an ESL teacher, teacher’s assistant or tutor (no foreign language or teaching experience required), providing translation services, or helping with office related work.