Michael McGillicuddy: Kolbe House Jail Ministry, Chicago
Compelled by the Gospel mandate, “I was in prison and you visited me,” Kolbe House is a sanctuary for those impacted by incarceration seeking to promote restoration and reconciliation through outreach, support and accompaniment. We follow the example of St. Maximilian Kolbe to love and hope in the midst of evil and despair. Through this ministry, the merciful love of the Father is shared…
…with the incarcerated, whom we serve as God’s beloved daughters and sons.
…with their families, to surround them with love and let them know they are not alone.
…with community members, to help see how we are all connected and affected by
…with the larger culture, inviting all to see in the incarcerated our own brothers and sisters.
As one of two Ignatian Volunteers at Kolbe House, I serve in various capacities. I network with other organizations whose mission overlaps with Kolbe House’s mission, accompany individuals during the critical early months after their release from detention or incarceration, accompany family members during the stressful period when their loved one is under criminal justice control, conduct groups within Cook County Jail, and manage Kolbe House’ food pantry. In all these tasks, my hope is to be a presence available to listen without judgment and share the Good News that God has plans to give each person a hope and a future.
Frani Luehrs: Youth Connection Charter School, Chicago
I volunteer at Innovations High School of the YCCS (Youth Connection Charter School) as a mentor/tutor in World Literature and Senior Portfolio classes. The school is focused on providing the skills and knowledge to young people, who have dropped out of the education system because of unfortunate circumstances, to obtain a high school diploma. These students, average age 18, are committed to graduating and finding a place in college or in a job. Their area of interest is in the creative arts as is mine!
I find being open in accepting them where they are allows me to honor them and help them build on their skills and express themselves. They share freely then and that opens me up to do so, too. Barriers seem to fall at times so all of our “light” shines for the moment. I know that will allow us to see one another, and in the future others, as similar in our quest for joy and happiness.
Jim McLaughlin: Hesed House, Aurora
I volunteer at the Hesed House, a homeless shelter in Aurora. It is the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois. I volunteer three days a week in the mornings. I have worked in a variety of areas in the shelter, but now work all three days as a receptionist at their two locations.
I have been exposed to all types of people who have been less fortunate than myself. They are not able to enjoy the same comforts of life or freedom that I do. There is no one stereotype of person who makes up the guests at the Hesed House; they are all God’s creatures.
I choose this assignment because all the people who make up the staff are committed to showing compassion to the needs of the homeless and doing it in a manner that promotes dignity to every person who walks through their door.
Read more volunteer profiles in the archives.