Strengthening faith through service

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Catholic Charities released "The Joy in Serving" as a call to parishioners to increase their involvement with ministries of the Arlington Diocese and volunteer programs in their communities. The video is designed to "spark a desire to volunteer" among the more than 450,000 registered Catholics in the diocese through emphasizing the impact that service has on faith.

Sally O'Dwyer, director of volunteers for Catholic Charities, said in her position she sees how many people have a desire to serve. She hopes this video will connect them to the more than 150 volunteer opportunities available through Catholic Charities, "to find something meaningful to give back and fulfill their role as a good Catholic."

Morgan McKean, development associate for Catholic Charities, said volunteers are "a priceless asset" for the organization. "We wanted to create a video that illustrates how volunteers are bringing mercy to the margins," she said.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a multinational accounting firm with offices in Arlington, McLean and Washington, encourages its employees to volunteer in their communities through annual paid service days where they are able to spend a workday volunteering with a charity of their choice.

Ten PwC employees recently volunteered at Christ House in Alexandria, lending a hand with gardening, cleaning and preparing meals.

Christ House serves as a food pantry, transitional housing for adult men, and also has a thrift store on site. Founded in 1973, the house provides meals as well as physical and psychological care to empower those in need to attain self-sufficiency.

Nicole Janik, PwC executive assistant, grew up in Alexandria and said volunteering at Christ House opened her eyes to the amount of homelessness in the area - something she had not considered previously. She said through volunteering, she hoped to make an "immediate impact" in her own community.

Sister Annie Juan, Christ House volunteer coordinator, said the house would not be able to provide all of its services without the help of volunteers. For every staff member, there are 15 volunteers, she said. "So they've really got an important role."

She said the efforts of volunteers make the individuals who come to Christ House feel valued and loved. "(The volunteers) really make a difference in the lives of other people; they don't realize how much joy they bring."

Sister Annie said the act of volunteering is not simply about enhancing the lives of others, but also enriching one's own life and faith. "The volunteers really participate in the mission of Christ and the teaching of the church," she said. "They always say they experience fulfillment in helping us here."

O'Dwyer echoed this sentiment. "We find fulfillment through volunteering and serving others," she said. "I personally feel that Catholic Charities is a vehicle for making this world a better place. If we all did a little bit more, the world would be an amazing place, like Jesus wanted it to be."

"The Joy in Serving" was created and produced for Catholic Charities by Maniglia Media LLC., Tysons, VA.

Husar can be reached at mhusar@catholicherald.com

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016