By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
In late November, ninth- and 10th-grade religious education students from St. Joseph Parish in North English spent several hours at Iowa City Catholic Worker House. The students served a meal of pork loin, mashed potatoes, green beans and cookies to 60-plus individuals — a mixture of Catholic Worker guests and local individuals experiencing food insecurity. The students also raked leaves, cleaned up brush in the yard to prepare for winter, swept and mopped bedrooms, did laundry, sorted and folded clothes. In addition, the students cleaned dishes and interacted with the individuals who came in to eat.
The Iowa City Catholic Worker House offers short-term overnight stays, a free food pantry and regular open hours for people who are poor and homeless to come in for homemade meals, hot coffee, showers, laundry, conversation and community. The Catholic Worker House is currently home to nine individuals seeking refugee status. Catholic Worker also hosts a monthly Mass and dinner, among other programs. Catholic Worker House runs solely on donations and volunteerism.
Student Andy Driscoll said volunteering at Iowa City Catholic Worker House “really opened my eyes to how many people are just looking for basic needs like a meal. Having this opportunity shows me that I can make a difference in a few hours of work here. It makes me want to come back and give back more. Everyone was so appreciative and thankful for a simple meal.”
Student Teresa Fisher enjoyed spending the day helping others. “It was not hard work, but it was God’s work and I am happy I was able to be a part of it.” Classmate Celine Fisher said she hopes her parish can continue to help individuals in need of assistance.
Student Dominic Garringer enjoyed the yardwork portion of the day. “I would come back and help again.”
To help serve a weekend meal, volunteer with yard and household tasks, or learn about other ways to assist Iowa City Catholic Worker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (515) 729-6482.