For National Volunteer Week, April 16-22, United Way of Northeast Florida asked the community to nominate outstanding volunteers to be recognized on our blog and social media. Congratulations, Jody! Hear from Jody on why she is passionate about giving back through Catholic Charities.
By Jody Green
Volunteering was modeled for me by my parents and grandparents. My entire childhood, I watched all of them involved in countless projects and organizations that helped out their communities or in some cases the world at large. My father was in the Foreign Service and, as a child, I lived in Egypt. Later in my life, my career took me all over the world, especially and often to Asia. I had wonderful opportunities to learn about other cultures and made many friends from different backgrounds.
In 2004, a beautiful young man came to services at my church (San Jose Episcopal) and sat in the back. My husband and I introduced ourselves and learned he was one of The Lost Boys of Sudan who had begun a new life in Jacksonville through an official resettlement program. Educating myself on the horror of this conflict and the suffering of the victims gave me a new understanding of how vital the refugee resettlement programs are in this country.
When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, I knew I wanted to help and knew I could contribute in some way. I reached out to Catholic Charities and was immediately welcomed in by this amazing group. I started out helping to sort donations and then began helping with apartment setups.
I cannot stress enough how amazing the volunteers are who work preparing the apartments for refugees. The attention to detail for each individual adult and child is beyond compare. I watched those loving hands and hearts carefully pulling items, from kitchen necessities to toys and books, and knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
The most rewarding aspect of the work is the work itself. Knowing we are offering a radical welcome to people, who through no fault of their own, are fleeing unspeakable violence and death is the best we can do in a world where peace seems elusive. We are doing what we can to make the refugees feel they are loved by us and that their home is warm, welcoming and safe.
Many have left behind family members as well as their homes and cultures. They arefrequently bringing their children to a place where they don’t speak the language and the world seems strange. Walking into an apartment lovingly setup by us (it is amazing what we do with donations, and I have learned all of this from the amazing volunteers who have been doing refugee resettlement for years) hopefully gives them a moment of peace. When I get feedback from the caseworkers about how much a client family loved their apartment or see pictures of refugee children playing with items that we provided, I know our efforts are making a difference.
To me “amplify good” (United Way’s tagline) is simply a matter of taking whatever time, talent and, often, treasure I have and sharing it with those who have a need. As with so many things in life, I am the one who is being rewarded by my participation in this amazing program.
Interested in becoming an outstanding volunteer like Jody? You can find a variety of community service projects all year long at United Way’s Volunteer Hub. Have any questions about volunteering with United Way and our partners? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.