By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Interacting with homeless individuals had a strong impact on confirmation students volunteering at the Catholic Worker House in Iowa City.
“They realized they may have had stereotypes that weren’t necessarily true,” said Deacon Derick Cranston, pastoral associate for the cluster parishes from Riverside, Richmond and Wellman. “(Homeless persons) are real people. They have families … There are a lot of reasons people are homeless. It’s not just someone who doesn’t want to work.”
Four adults and about 10 students from the cluster parishes went to Catholic Worker’s hospitality house on April 30 to complete a variety of tasks in preparation for the Sunday meal program. This meal program serves homeless individuals a free meal on a day in which there are no other free meal options in the community. Guests are also welcome to take home donated goods, from toiletries to used clothing.
Volunteers sorted donated clothing in the living room, while other volunteers heated up egg casseroles and biscuits and gravy in the kitchen. Students who were unable to attend the service day made May Day baskets ahead of time.
Deacon Cranston and the other cluster parish volunteers prepared for 40-60 guests. About six or seven guests would come in at a time. “It had a home feel. The volunteers would interact and talk to them. That was a big part of it — it wasn’t just feeding them.”
And that, he said, made all the difference.