Exceptional volunteers

It has been said that "those who can, do, those who can do more volunteer." We at Catholic Charities depend on the talents and generosity of our volunteers to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of those across our communities who, in this difficult economy, have come to rely on Catholic Charities for support as they try to make ends meet.

I had the opportunity recently to thank many of our volunteers at our Catholic Charities' Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. Each year as part of the festivities, we honor staff- nominated "exceptional volunteers." This year's awardees are an impressive group.

Deidre Frances Bradley Turner coordinates the efforts of Emmanuel College volunteers who have supported Catholic Charities Greater Boston and the St. Ambrose Family Shelter for nearly seven years. Over that time, more than 350 student volunteers have provided the help needed to clean, paint and landscape the shelter, ensuring that St. Ambrose is a welcoming place for our families.

James and Kerry Rhodes have been volunteer mentors to a teenaged brother and sister through the Laboure Center TEAM mentoring program. James and Kerry have exemplified the true meanings of "support," "friend," and "guide" for these youth, and have been highly active in promoting their academic growth as well as goal establishment and attainment. Through this relationship, one teen is attending a private Catholic high school on a full scholarship, while his sister successfully qualified for a six week language immersion trip in Beijing, China this summer.

Sister Loretta Harriman has been a volunteer at Catholic Charities North Asian Center over the past five years. Possessing a calming, welcoming presence, Sister Loretta demonstrated a caring compassionate approach from the get-go. She tutors adults who have come to our evening classes determined to earn their GED, often going the extra mile to help meet the varied needs of our students.

Betty Quigley has been the editor of the Merrimack Valley Catholic Charities Grandparents as Parents quarterly newsletter for the past 10 years. The newsletter is distributed to over 400 people each quarter and includes feature articles, information useful to grandparents raising their grandchildren as well as information about upcoming program events. Betty also recruits her husband Bill to volunteer alongside her at the GAP program's annual Christmas Party.

Sister Ellen McGovern has volunteered at the Catholic Charities Haitian Multi Service Center for more than 11 years, where she helps older, non-English speakers develop their English language proficiency. Sister Ellen also lends her fund raising talents to our efforts in securing software programs for our language labs.

Rebecca Greenblum came as a student intern to Catholic Charities North Cambridge Children's Center three years ago, and has been with us as a volunteer ever since. Rebecca's excellent ability to connect with children in our preschool classroom as well as her commitment to her own continuous learning has been a true gift to our children and parents as well as our staff.

Rich Cullinane began his volunteer work at the English Transcultural Center, the adult education program of Catholic Charities South, nearly three years ago. A retired accounting professional, Rich had always been interested in teaching. He works alongside staff two mornings a week with a small group of students who never had the opportunity to learn to read or write in their native languages. Rich is not only teaching his students to speak English, but he is also teaching them to read and write for the first time.

Jane Devlin is the leader and organizer of the ARRUPE group at St. Ignatius Church. The group supports Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services as they welcome refugees from war torn regions of the world. The ARRUPE support ensures that newcomers have the basic necessities of clothing, food and household items so needed to begin their new lives in the United States.

These exceptional volunteers are among the more than 2,500 volunteers that Catholic Charities has been blessed to have been supported by this year, an increase of 25 percent over last year. No doubt that increase is a credit to our best ambassadors: our volunteers themselves as they share the significance and impact of their volunteer involvement.

We are most grateful to all of our volunteers whose generosity of time and talent helps to enrich and improve people's lives.

To learn more about how you can volunteer and make a difference in the struggle against poverty and injustice go to www.ccab.org.

Debbie Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.