Volunteering is the heartbeat of the mission here at Catholic Charities Kansas City-Saint Joseph. Whether through big annual events like Christmas Shining Star, our Outpace Poverty 5K and the Gala or smaller consistent events like our food distribution or clothing drives, volunteers logged just shy of 2,167 hours helping us #ToServeAndToLift our community and we would not be where we are without them.
Linda Hopkins, Volunteer Coordinator, Catholic Charities Kansas City-Saint Joseph, said that parishes are a big reason we get so many volunteers at all of the events we have.
“When we have a food distribution event, that’s definitely parish-driven”. Hopkins said. “They’ll have such an enjoyable time at the event, a lot of them will say ‘what else can I do to help or how else can I help’ and that is a great way to drive some volunteers my way.”
Hopkins also said that with the new Cameron Food Pantry seeking support from all the different parishes, that will get volunteers as well.
Hopkins also said at parishes, she will keep in touch with parish personnel which drives engagement too.
Hopkins mentions what is exciting for CCKCSJ is that many of the volunteers who serve, are brought in externally through the volunteers’ own willingness.
Christmas Shining Star, other than our annual Gala, is our biggest need, with the amount of work behind the scenes that goes into making it happen.
“Shining Star is one where we could use a lot of hands during the day for several weeks at a time.” Hopkins said. “It’s very rewarding when they see the whole process behind the scenes.”
“Whenever we get a piece on the news that always seems to generate interest. People finding us just wanting to look at the volunteering we have.” Hopkins said. “There is information on our website about how to volunteer. A lot of the staff, when people find out where they work, will get asked about volunteering, so I get a lot of employee referrals as well.”
Hopkins says that CCKCSJ has an account with Nonprofit Connect where she will recruit as well as working with United Way of Greater Saint Joseph finding volunteer postings. Hopkins locates volunteers through the parish announcements that are sent out as well.
“We have a wonderful core group of regular volunteers.” Hopkins said. “I had one gentleman call me last summer to volunteer because he heard we were opening up a pantry in Northern Missouri, he really saw a need in that area.”
Hopkins has a strong relationship with the global Knights of Columbus Council which have three chapters in the Saint Joseph area.
Hopkins gets a lot of people that want to serve on weekends and evenings for their special events, but for the day-to-day events, not as much, so they are continually needing more volunteers.
“That’s our biggest stumbling block.” Hopkins said. “As we get more pantries open and more food drives that should come about, I am really looking forward to what means for people who want to serve alongside us and are able to do it on weekends and evenings.
Hopkins said she puts all of names of the people wanting to do these events on a spreadsheet so she can refer back to them later.
“As we brought in [volunteers] with the food pantry and food distribution…there might be people who can only do it once a month” Hopkins said. “If I have some regular volunteers who need a week off that are on a rotating basis like those at the South Pantry…I have somebody that can maybe fill in.”
Hopkins noted that having a servant’s heart is what she really looks for out of her volunteers and she can tell just through the phone how much the opportunity means to them.
“When someone approaches you with the desire to really serve, you don’t want to turn that away.” Hopkins said. “I’m always looking to grow our base, but that comes with the opportunities that we can offer them.”
Volunteering is for causes much greater than the individual. That is why the motivation for why you want to serve is of utmost importance.
“When you just hear in their heart, how much they really want to serve, and why they want to serve”. Hopkins said. “For example, in Shining Star, you always want someone who just wants to get in there and get the job done. But also need people that can problem solve better solutions. You always keep an open mind to what the volunteer can bring to the table.”
For more information on how to volunteer, contact Linda Hopkins by phone at 816.659.8205 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or scan this QR code to sign up.