Gather4Good: If we can do more, we should

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“If we can do more, we should do more”

That’s the sentiment expressed by Nate Lamusga, Director of Member Engagement, as he leads his staff in the expansion of the Gather4Good® service program. Gather4Good® events in 2018 will double from two to four in an effort to give more people in more places the chance to care for our neighbors in need.

The goal is to pack 8,000 personal care kits in a single year, which will be a record for the program if volunteers can make it happen. So far, 2,000 kits have been packed with 6,000 to go.

Why double the size of the program? Members asked for more sites and more events, said Member Engagement Advisor Kaitlin Groeneweg. The program has proven to have wide-reaching appeal; previous events have been successful in areas that have established Councils and Parish Volunteer Teams, and those that don’t.

“We’re always looking for ways to engage with more of our members, and joining us for a Gather4Good® event is a great way to reach a large group,” Groeneweg said. “We frequently get requests from previous host parishes and schools asking us to come back to their community.”

Families sign encouragement cards during the Medford event in May 2018.

Choosing the four sites for 2018 was a challenge, and Groeneweg said the department received more applications than they expected. “Our three Minnesota events in June, September and October are spread out to reach as many members as possible.”

What are the challenges to doubling the size of a service program in one year? Expense and logistics, Lamusga said. “We are very fortunate to have Kaitlin Groeneweg heading up the logistics. ‘Well-oiled machine’ is often how people describe the kit packing activity and that’s mainly due to her efforts.”

Regarding the expense, a Gather4Good® fund established through the Catholic United Financial Foundation helps to offset the increased costs of adding events. Lamusga credits Catholic United members, Parish Volunteer Teams and Councils and members for providing much of the monetary support needed to start the expansion of the program.

“Without that support, we would not have been able to offer two more events,” Lamusga said. People who desire to support the program can donate online at www.gather4good.org/donate. Every dollar donated to the fund is spent on care kit supplies, and every care kit makes its way into the hands of a person in need.

“More than 30,000 kits have been assembled through this program since 2010. That’s 30,000 people whose lives have been touched,” said President Harald Borrmann. Gather4Good® was inaugurated eight years ago to offer a large-scale volunteer event that would unite communities in a common effort while making a local social impact.

“We realized there was tremendous need for people who wind up in homeless shelters and battered women’s shelters or who become victims of disasters,” Borrmann explained.

Gather4Good volunteers assemble kits on May 6th in Medford, WI.
Gather4Good volunteers assemble kits on May 6th in Medford, WI.

“Projects like Gather4Good® address the short-term needs for individuals which, unfortunately, is an ongoing process. There are many other groups that tackle the other root causes of homelessness, and until those causes are addressed, projects like Gather4Good® will continue to be necessary,” Lamusga added.

The care kits are distributed by social agencies and charities that partner with Catholic United, and the kits are much appreciated by the needy people those agencies serve.

“In addition to the actual kit items, the special addition of the message cards filled out by volunteers are so meaningful to people in times of nee,” Groeneweg said. “It’s easy to take for granted the fact that we have a roof over our heads. For those that do not, something as simple as a bar of soap and some words of encouragement can make a huge difference.”

Who else does Lamusga credit for the success of the program? “The only reason we are able to do this is because of our members. It is our hope that we can attract new members by showing them our desire to help those in need.”

Learn more about 2018 Gather4Good events, make a donation or learn more to bring an event to your neighborhood at www.gather4good.org.

Gather4Good volunteers in Delano, MN on June 17, 2018
Gather4Good volunteers in Delano, MN on June 17, 2018