Catholic Social Services is your agency to serve the poor and those in need


“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare

I think of Catholic Social Services as the arms of the parishes here in Anchorage. Each of our programs and services came from people like you seeing need in our community and creating services to help. In my view, your contribution is the most unique and special aspect of our agency. You have ensured that our broad mission — to serve the poor and those in need, to strengthen families, and to advocate for social justice — provides the services needed in Anchorage. Everything we do happens because of volunteers, like you.

Volunteers are the gasoline in the engine of Catholic Social Services. Our programs depend on the help and support of those who offer time. At St. Francis House, volunteer personal shoppers keep our food pantry stocked and organized and help clients go through aisles to pick out food that works for them. All our programs depend on volunteers in the same way — from family mentors for clients of Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services, to Listening Post volunteers at Brother Francis Shelter.

I want to share a story of a volunteer I work with named Joy who attends a local parish and has been working with us for a little while. Like all our volunteers, she brings unique talents and gifts to strengthen Catholic Social Services. Joy came from a long career of project management, having worked for a global technology firm that did work for Fortune 500 companies. Joy created project timelines, ensured their execution, oversaw day-to-day schedules, and led problem resolution as issues arose.

Recently, Joy retired. This past summer she decided to spend some time volunteering. At first, she got linked up with the Kids’ Lunch Program, affiliated with St. Francis House. But it didn’t take us long to figure out her talent might be best used someplace else. We asked if we could use her skills in project management to help with processing and tracking data as well as streamlining our database.

Now Joy is helping to evaluate one of our programs in order to improve communications and streamline processes for both our partners and us. The results of Joy’s work help us better serve our clients and enable us to make compelling reports for client outcomes and future investment, allowing us to do even more to help the vulnerable and those in need in Anchorage.

Joy has given us her talent and time, which have made us a stronger and better organization. Stories like Joy’s abound at Catholic Social Services — stories of people sharing themselves to support our clients and our agency in long-term success.

Every volunteer who has come in our doors has helped Catholic Social Services over the years. We want each of you to feel valued in your work as a volunteer and to encourage your family, friends and coworkers to join us too. We are your agency, and we stand with you and our clients in unity to make our community strong.

The writer is executive director of Catholic Social Services in Alaska. For more on CSS, call 222-7300 or visit

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