This post was originally published on the Catholic Volunteer Network blog on Jan. 2, 2013. Amy Sapalio is a member of the charity's membership team.
Lt. Brandon Williams, part-time soldier and full-time AmeriCorps member, currently serves in Baltimore, MD, with one of Catholic Charities’ member programs, Project SERVE. Each day, Lt. Williams arrives at Our Daily Bread, Catholic Charities' hot meal center, and teaches new volunteers the significance of feeding those who cannot afford to feed themselves. Equally importantly, he teaches his volunteers to respect each man and woman that comes through the door. The time the hungry spend in the safety and warmth of Our Daily Bread's walls may be the only time throughout the day they are treated with respect at all.
“I encourage my volunteers to connect to the people they are serving on a basic human level: be kind,” Lt. Williams explained.
As I listened to Lt. Williams speak of the 800 meals he helps to serve daily, I thought of the people who are suffering and that the world does not value, and then I thought, Lt. Williams has found them.
Lt. Williams' AmeriCorps service, however, is not the only way he has brought comfort to those in need. Coming from a military family (both parents are Army veterans), service has been integral to his upbringing. Considering Lt. Williams' early introduction to military service, it is unsurprising that he too joined the U.S. Army after college. Now, as a member of the National Guard, Lt. Williams aims to serve the fundamental human needs of our fellow countrymen. His work has been both domestic and international, from working for peace overseas, to handing out cases of water in a devastated New York City.
Today, Lt. Williams runs his platoon from Baltimore, attends drills once a month, and finds striking similarities between his service as a soldier and as an AmeriCorps member.
“Volunteer coordinating is not so different from running a platoon,” he said. “That's what an officer does: we plan, we coordinate, and we take care of our guys.”
Now, he takes care of his volunteers and the men and women they serve, too.
“The motive is not so different, either,” he mentioned. “For me, it's about seeing Jesus Christ in each and every person I serve. It always makes me think of the verse in Matthew: ‘Whatever you have done for the least of these brothers of mine, that you have done for me.'”
With the onset of the new year, Lt. Williams' words reminding us to be kind act as rays of light offering hope with new beginnings.
What can we do?
Find the suffering. Be kind. Take care of our community.
Thanks for the reminder, Lieutenant.
Catholic Volunteer Network MLK Day of Service and Reflection events are scheduled to take place later this month in Phoenix; Denver; St. Louis; Minneapolis; Chicago; Washington, DC; and New York – visit their website for more details. For more information on the MLK Day of Service, visit the MLK Day website.
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