A Thirst for Charitable Work

Friends from Greenville, South Carolina share a morning of charitable work.

A few families from the Greenville, SC community visited Catholic Charities to share in charitable work and to encounter the people who work and visit there. The thirst to do charitable work had been growing in the community, and our new friend Martino Rabaioli made the call to Catholic Charities to find out if they needed help. It turns out the client advocate (one of just 2 employees at Catholic Charities SC in Greenville) was a former student of several of the members of the community and used to do GS in high school! She invited us to help in a day of hosting a shower station for the homeless, as well as organizing the food pantry and folding clothes in the clothing room. After reading a short selection of Giussani's reflection on the meaning of charitable work and praying an angelus, the group split into different tasks. The little children even became involved, sorting and labeling and folding clothes under the direction of a few of the moms. Some set up the shower station while the teenage boys organized the food pantry. A few of the men walked around the neighborhood meeting people and spreading the word about the showers, food, and clothes.

For me, this was the meaning of the day: looking into the eyes of the people I met on the street. A few eyes had walls behind them, they were open and yet not seeing, and the bitterness and despair I heard in their voices provoked me to talk to the Lord. Some were mentally unwell, and we gave them what we could but were faced with our own limits, the awareness that I can do so little for this level of misery.

Others were surprised that we were talking to them, risking a conversation, and inviting them. Several took the risk of walking to Catholic Charities to admit that they needed help. One lady cried after her shower and shared the story of her drug addiction. Another showed up days later because he heard the invitation, was intrigued by the person who invited him, and wanted to find out what Catholic Charities was all about.

The client advocate, the former GS member, was moved and renewed and hopes that, with more regular charitable work, the people will find something constant to rely on and particular faces to know. After charitable work several families gathered for dinner. One new family attended who have been looking for Catholic community since converting, and have struggled to find a place where they feel they belong. The mother said, in the middle of dinner, "this is what I've been looking for."

Gabe, Greenville, SC