Pictured (from left to right): DSW Volunteers Mike Morgan, Tim Gallagher, and Tom Briese.
Editor's Note: The following entry is from Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS, director of De Sales Service Works in Camden, NJ.
De Sales Service Works presently has two aspects to it. First, we welcome groups who come to Camden for a time to serve here and to reflect on the experience in light of their faith. In addition, we have a program for year-long, full time volunteers. I want to take this blog entry to introduce this year’s volunteers. In the near future, look for blog entries from each of them sharing experience and insight from their time here since the end of August.
Tom found DSW via online advertisement through Catholic Network of Volunteer Service. He is a recent graduate of St. Mary’s University a Christian Brothers school in Winona, MN. Tom graduated with a degree in biochemistry and has several research internships under his belt. In addition to serving as DSW volunteer, Tom has been doing the hard work of applying to medical schools in the Midwest. He is a skilled musician and can basically play anything in front of him. Trombone is his main instrument, but we have witnessed keyboard, guitar, tin whistle and fife. Tom is originally from Rochester MN, the home of the Mayo Clinic---one of his inspirations for a career in medicine.
In Camden, Tom works at a variety of service placements in the neighborhood. In the medical field, he works at St. John’s Pre-natal clinic and at Lourdes Hospital’s mobile clinic, Project Hope. Then he volunteers at Holy Name School and at Camden Center for Law and Social Justice each one day a week. In addition, he shares his musical ability in liturgy at St. Joseph Parish in East Camden and at Holy Name School Masses with Sr. Claire.
Mike is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech. He earned a BA is in the field of Public and Urban Affairs. He was a freshman at Blacksburg at the time of the tragic shootings in 2007; he says people always ask. He experienced the efforts at healing and processing of that event facilitated by the Catholic Student Center. Campus ministry also got Mike to Camden. He first served here in May of 2009 with two other guys from Tech and several Oblate Associates. That experience made an impression, and he kept in touch and now is here for the year.
Mike works full time at Hopeworks, the project nearby that uses computer skills and web design to teach life skills and job skills and is, at the same time, a business that designs and runs websites for non-profits around the nation. His has many responsibilities there, but spends a lot of time recruiting trainees for the program.
Williamsburg, Virginia, is his hometown. Mike also plays the guitar, runs, and enjoys woodworking.
Tim has been part of DSW since we moved to Camden. As an Oblate Associate, he was part of the January 2008 service retreat held here. He was back with the Virginia Tech group in May and then participated in several groups that came from DeSales University last year, his senior year at DSU. Tim began his association with the Oblates in high school at Father Judge, a school we staff in Northeast Philadelphia. In June 2008 Tim even spoke about DSW at the annual Oblate Convocation.
Tim hears a clear vocation to teach, evident in his comfort presenting to our convocation and in his service this year as a DSW volunteer. This volunteer year, he works at Guadalupe Family Services, an agency that reaches out to the families of murder victims in Camden. In addition, GFS engages in anger management and conflict resolution training in the community. Tim does this at our parish grade school at all the various grade levels. In addition, he has been teaching English to four newly arrived young men from the Dominican Republic since August.
The volunteers live in a deliberate way as a community for the year. Each has his full time job, and each is involved with the various service groups who come to Camden to serve. They pray together each morning. They study Salesian spirituality and Catholic social teaching book-club style by reading and discussion some very good books through the year.
Camden has so much need, and because of that situation, many people come to serve here. A great thing for DSW volunteers is that there are three other volunteer groups made up of recent college grads in Camden. One group, five members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, live one block away from DSW on Vine Street . They are great neighbors because of friendship---and also because they like DSW’s internet connection.
Four retreats are part of the volunteer experience. The first one is this weekend at the DeSales Hall in Washington, DC. This will provide an opportunity to check on goals for the year, to evaluate and to reflect on themes of justice and Salesian spirituality.
We will also take advantage of some of the attractions the nation’s capital has to offer including a visit to the Holocaust Memorial and Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the Mall. Mike Morgan will get to try out DC’s new trail that runs from the Brookland section of NE Washington downtown, where it connects with the Mall and all the trails along the Potomac. He will be running 20 miles this Saturday in training for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 21st.
Look for blog entries from the volunteers reflecting on their insight and experience in Camden with DSW.