Looking Forward, Giving Back with Catholic Charities’ Junior Board
Saturday, September 01, 2012 by Monsignor Michael M. Boland

“There’s always something going on!” This is the way Director Lisa Pauletto describes Catholic Charities’ Junior Board. That non-stop “something” started 10 years ago, when Catholic Charities initiated an organization that unleashed an explosion of charitable energy: The Catholic Charities Junior Board.

A bold new effort, the Junior Board was envisioned as a vibrant organization of young adults, ages 21 through 45, committed to assisting and promoting the compassionate works of Catholic Charities. The goal was to encourage and develop leaders in the church through effective community action that includes volunteer service, social fundraising and theological exploration. Practically speaking, the mission of the Junior Board is to create advocates for the poor, who not only help their brothers and sisters in need – of all faiths and racial and ethnic backgrounds; but also spread the word about Catholic Charities’ mission and programs in their communities. It’s clear that the Junior Board has lived up to their mission in its first decade!

Today, as Catholic Charities’ Junior Board celebrates its 10th Anniversary, 350 members are actively assisting Catholic Charities clients and programs throughout the year: serving thousands of seniors, children and families, and our hungry and homeless neighbors. Over the years, they have donated thousands of dollars and thousands of volunteer service hours. Many have gone on to become members of the Board of Advisors or the Board of Directors of the agency.

These energetic young adults volunteer regularly in more than 10 programs at various sites in Cook and Lake Counties, and take on one-time volunteer projects as needs arise within Catholic Charities. They also conduct multiple fund-raising events each year that bring them together to support programs for our clients with unique or urgent needs. Weekly e-mails keep all of the 515 members, sponsors and friends in touch. For young adults who want to stay connected via common values, service to those in need, and social events, the Junior Board is the place to be.

2011 was a banner year for the Junior Board, achieving several highs of service. These young men and women volunteered a total of 5,967 hours at Catholic Charities and Junior Board events, and raised $44,692 to support Catholic Charities programs. The 5th Annual Charities Royale Casino Night raised more than $34,000 for our Emergency Assistance Programs, providing services for clients with urgent basic human needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

Participation and giving opportunities abound at Catholic Charities. To celebrate their first decade of service, Junior Board members enthusiastically pitched in and supported several 10th Anniversary Initiatives to feed and benefit our clients, such as the 27th Annual Greater Chicago

Food Depository Hunger Walk at Soldier Field, followed by a “Party in the Park” at River City;

and Catholic Charities’ Annual “After Supper” Photo Exhibition and Sale, featuring the artistic work of our Wednesday night supper guests. Business and industry sponsors, as always, were encouraged to donate and sponsor “JB” events in return for program book recognition.

In honor of their 10th Anniversary, the Junior Board’s WEB page currently features: “10 Ways to Give.” These include donating toiletries for the low-income and homeless families and individuals who come to us for such basics as soap; sponsorship opportunities for events; and referring friends and families to businesses that support Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities annually assists more than one million men, women and children in Cook and Lake Counties with food, clothing, housing and professional social services. The young adult members of the Junior Board, through their generous, active participation and support of the clients and work of Catholic Charities, contribute greatly to the health, welfare, happiness and human dignity of thousands of our clients. Junior Board members participate wholeheartedly in the mission of charity – thus assuring that it will continue far into the future.

Whether on a fund-raising Boat Cruise, or serving our nightly suppers for 130 low-income or homeless guests at Catholic Charities St. Vincent Center, or at one of our suburban supper sites; organizing clothing drives for our clients; or holding monthly happy-hour events at local establishments to support programs for our neighbors in need – the generous and enthusiastic members of the Junior Board find a myriad of ways to serve as many of our nearly one million clients each year as possible.

The Junior Board is an integral and necessary part of Catholic Charities’ sacred mission to serve the poor now and in the future, and I am deeply grateful for their dedication, enthusiasm and generosity of spirit! As we celebrate their Tenth Anniversary – on behalf of the million people in need whom we serve each year – I say a sincere “Thank you and God bless you!”

“Ad multos annos

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