Volunteer Stories

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Volunteer Spotlight: Marilynne Zigman,Cleveland Central Catholic

Life as a Volunteer in a High School: A Senior Helping Seniors

The Ignatian Volunteer Corp has a well-defined mission. It’s an organization for those of us who are “50 or better” and gives us the opportunity to serve others and work in partnership with the community. The IVC does it all: Experience. Service. Reflection. I’m finishing five years with the IVC and the new motto says it best: “Experience Making a Difference”.  What a brilliant marketing phrase, multiple meanings and all.

Just two weeks ago I was describing my volunteer assignment and said that I enjoyed working with seniors. Then my cousin questioned: “But I thought you didn’t want to work with the elderly?” I definitely had to clarify my statement.

The seniors I work with are most definitely not elderly. They are 17 and 18. And, as the school motto says, they are, indeed,  “Creative in Mind and Spirit”.  The days are busy and often chaotic, and the drama is constant when you are a senior in high school.  There is just so much to do.  There are classes to attend, required volunteer hours to fulfill, after school sports practices, and different clubs and activities that require participation. In addition, there is the Ohio Graduation Test to pass; there is the ACTor SAT to take to get into college; and college visits to schedule; and applying to colleges…and financial aid meetings; and senior career experience week. And on top of all that, for most there is an after school job, too.

Such is the life of the 128 seniors who are part of the Class of 2014 of Cleveland Central Catholic High School. CCC is now 45 years old and came to be due to a combination of parish high schools.  In the days of population growth, Cleveland supported the parish high schools of Our Lady of Lourdes, St. John Cantius, St. Michael the Archangel and St. Stanislaus. Then came the flight from the city and the population decline. Parishes could no longer support local catholic high schools and in 1969 Central Catholic was instituted at the St. Stanislaus campus. It is, indeed, central. The campus is located only three miles from downtown Cleveland in Slavic Village, which has the dubious distinction of being one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. 98% of CCC students are city kids, too, and as the phrase states, most of them are “socio-economically disadvantaged”.

Just how does this senior help seniors? My days are filled with helping in the Guidance Office, assisting in whatever needs to be done. There is helping with administering the Ohio Graduation Tests. And there is helping with ACT and SAT registrations. There is helping to write letters of recommendation. There is helping to complete college applications. There are transcripts to be prepared. There are scholarships to apply for, and requirements for them that must be met. There are internships that have to be secured.  There are reams and reams of financial aid forms that have to be completed. And there is scheduling to do; grade reports to be distributed; and files to be filed. And then there is the Senior Career Experience; a week long career preparation program that each senior must complete in order to graduate. There are employers to find for shadowing, and permission forms, and verification forms, and contracts, and thank you letters. Oh, yes…and what about setting up those college visits?

Cleveland Central Catholic has another motto. It is: “Learning to Lead; Preparing to Serve”.  By the time they graduate, not only are students prepared to serve; they are prepared to succeed. As I write this, CCC has over 590 students in grades 9-12 with a 99% senior graduation rate, and a 90% college admittance rate.  This year our seniors received over  $2,000,000 worth of scholarships and grants. After graduation they will be attending Kent State, BGSU, Walsh University, Notre Dame College, Eastern Michigan, CSU, and University of Akron…and more.

And I helped them. I helped them succeed. I got to experience making a difference. Imagine that. Experience making a difference.

Marilynne Zigman


Our Volunteers have so many stories to tell…
Read about some of the people on Cleveland’s west side that have been impacted by Volunteer Mike Grogan, who shared his story with our Diocesan paper For the Record:Retired Volunteers Find Joy Serving as Ignatian Volunteers

“Love is an Action Word”

Posted February 11th, 2015 by .

Mike Grogan’s family celebrated his 80th birthday serving the homeless, following his lead of living faith in action. Mike, an Ignatian Volunteer in Cleveland, says that before he started with IVC ten years ago, “I didn’t know that people lived in the streets; that these levels of poverty existed”. Today, service to the poor, especially… Read more »

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Posted March 11th, 2014 by .

Ignatian Volunteer Wanda Dean is in her fourth year serving with Catholic Charities in Richland County, Ohio. She spends most of her time there working in the food pantry—stocking shelves, initiating a food drive with 9 area high schools, and helping with food distribution. “The need is staggering. Our county, our economy, has never fully… Read more »