You Make the Call

It happens all the time. Just as you sit down to dinner, decide to take a bath, or curl up for a nap, the phone rings. You answer brusquely, annoyed at the intrusion, only to hear a canned speech from someone soliciting donations for one charity or the other - everybody, every body part, every nationality, race, color, creed, occupation, and letter combination has a cause: Boys Town, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Purple Heart, Greenpeace, Fund for Peace, Vietnam Veterans, Disabled Firefighters, Police Protective Fund, Friends of the Earth, Friends of Animals, Rainforest Alliance, African Wildlife Foundation, Asian Relief, American Indian College Fund, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Jewish National Fund, Catholic Relief Services, United Way, UNICEF, ACLU, ALS, AARP, NAACP, MADD, SADD. And it's not always money they're asking for: clothes for Goodwill, goods for the homeless, homes for the refugees, cash for clunkers.

Because you can't give to everyone, you already have a favorite charity, or you're really not interested, you stop the caller in mid-sentence and give your canned response: "Call back later;" "No, thank you;" or the old favorite, "I gave at the office."

Here at the parish office, this happens all the time. And because I'm the "Community" Building office, I usually get the calls. Since I represent the parish, I try (very hard!) to be charitable and hospitable and listen to their whole spiel. Then I give my canned response, "We have an outreach committee who makes these decisions. If you'd like to send me the info, I will pass it along . . ." Sometimes they follow up, but most often they don't. I do feel bad putting them off because the organizations they represent and the services they provide are needed in the community - both locally and globally. As a faith community, we want to help everyone, but, and according to our overworked and underpaid parish Treasurer, we don't have an unlimited budget - manna isn't falling from the sky (nor is money growing on trees). So the Outreach Committee, on behalf of the parish, carefully selects who we financially support. By limiting the number of organizations, we are able to give more funding, making a greater impact on their programs and the people they serve. Connections for the Homeless, Good News Partners, and A Just Harvest Community Kitchen receive a major chunk of our annual outreach giving.

About two weeks ago, I received a very friendly call from a man named Will Watson. I had no idea who he was until he reminded me of our first meeting. I met Will exactly one year ago when I was down at Good News Partners making plans for our parish community service project. Will works in their maintenance department and was taking us on a tour of their facilities. Will lives on the far south side of Chicago and has an hour and a half commute to work each day. He is happy, hard working and doesn't care that he spends much of his paycheck and a good portion of his day on public transportation. He had come upon hard times, but is now grateful to have a job that supports him and his young family. Will had been trained as a barber, and although he is quite the handyman, he had dreams of one day getting back in that business and ultimately owning his own shop. When the folks at Good News Partners heard about this, they decided to help Will renovate a very run-down storefront in their neighborhood and turn it into a barbershop. It was exciting to listen to Will as he showed off his shop - definitely a hard hat area! I personally couldn't envision it - all I saw was a huge mess. But Will had big plans and he, with the help of Good News Partners, was determined to make it happen.

When I realized who Will was, I was more interested in speaking with him. The first thing I asked was how his barbershop was doing. THAT, it turns out, is why he called. A year later, his shop, which is probably no bigger than our parish library, is still under construction. He called asking for help. I know I let out a sigh before I went into my usual spiel. About midway into my "we have an outreach committee" speech, I stopped myself. Here is a man who, in spite of all his troubles, remains optimistic and enthusiastic, has the biggest smile I've ever seen, and is reaching out to us for assistance. I didn't have the heart to turn him away. I can assure you, Mr. Treasurer, I made no promises. But I did invite him here to tell his story, which he did at a Sunday Adult Forum with Ron Frantz, Executive Director of Good News Partners.

Will is just one of many, many people who, in roundabout ways, are recipients of our outreach giving. Because we are strongly "encouraged" to stay within our budget, we need to find other ways to help our community. One BIG way will happen on Saturday, November 13, when we join Will and other workers and residents at Good News Partners for our 3rd Annual Parish Community Service Project. Although Good News Partners has its own maintenance crew, there are many projects that need special attention due to the amount of labor entailed or lack of funding for supplies. Our parish assists with these projects, providing materials and supplies, and most importantly the gift of our time and talents. Projects include painting, relocating residents, landscaping, and cleaning of apartments, occupied and unoccupied.

Now it's your turn - it's time for you to make the call and volunteer for our November 13th Parish Service Project. Do it for Will and others like him. Or do it because it's the right and good thing to do. No canned speech, no soliciting. Just hard working volunteers of various ages, backgrounds and skill levels with hearts in one place - to serve the greater community and foster justice and respect for all human beings. 

I'll be waiting for my phone to ring.  No dinner, bathing or napping until you call. So please hurry.

For more information or to register, click here>>>

Patti Pateros