Journalist Decides to Take Action to Help People She Writes About

Written by Renee Targos
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As a journalist, Michelle McManimon covered stories addressing suffering, homelessness and other heartbreaking news in Flagstaff, Ariz. Then came a point where she needed to take action to help others, so she began volunteering at Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities Saves Lives

“The more I wrote stories about people who are really struggling in Flagstaff, the more Catholic Charities came up,” said Michelle. “Catholic Charities is really a lifeline for people in this town. I don’t know how people would survive without it. There are so few places that do housing. Catholic Charities homeless outreach program saves lives.”

Michelle’s passion to help others circled around low-income housing issues. As the housing prices continue to rise in Flagstaff in the midst of a low-paying local job market, many people are finding themselves struggling to make it.

Michelle believes this makes volunteering a crucial commitment at this time.

“It’s more important here than any other city in Arizona,” said Michelle. “I think for most people to make it in Flagstaff, you need a little or alot help from your neighbors. So for our community to thrive, volunteering is essential.”

Volunteer Makes Big Impact

At age 32, Michelle works as a freelance writer and lives with her husband and pets. With a flexible work schedule, she volunteers 16 hours each week for the position of Catholic Charities office ninja.

“Michelle came in and completely transformed our supply closet without being asked. She brought in her own organizational equipment and did a total overhaul on the space. She covers the front desk in a proactive way and is always smiling,” said Mary Lawson, Catholic Charities Flagstaff office manager. “If we didn’t have Michelle, we wouldn’t have reception back up, which means we would pull someone else from their job.”

Seeing Miracles and Hope

At the front desk, Michelle says she’s seen heartbreaking situations transform into miraculous situations. On her first day, a mother and her children came in and were homeless. “She came in stressed out and crying, but being able to talk to someone here and find support helped to put her mind at ease,” said Michelle. “We started her on the process of getting housing, got her and her children into an emergency shelter and got her children warm clothes. She was so relieved.”

The joys of being able to see someone go from hopeless to hopeful really fuels Michelle’s passion to continue helping others.

“When we take care of each other, then all of us are lifted up,” says Michelle. “I think everyone who can spare an hour of their time or $10 or old clothes for someone else, it makes a difference. When you volunteer, you get to see how your small contributions really help people.”

Learn more about volunteering at Catholic Charities!

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