When most people think about retirement they think about traveling, spending time on the golf course or with their grandkids but Carol Gastelum had other things in mind. She has been volunteering at Catholic Charities since 2009.
To say that Carol volunteers is really an understatement. Carol works a full 40 hour work week splitting her time between volunteer services and parish and community engagement.
“Catholic Charities does so much, and so few people are aware of it. They don’t know that we serve everyone, they don’t have to be Catholic,” said Carol. “I want to make our good work visible.”
It began in 2008. Carol, who has a master’s degree in community leadership, was retiring from 13 years at the Dioceses of Phoenix. Before that, she had worked for 18 years at Saint Simon and Jude Cathedral where she was the director of faith formation. Catholic Charities began to recruit her before her retirement started. Carol told them, “Let me lie fallow for one year and do nothing, then call me.” One year to the date she got a call from Catholic Charities.
Carol came in to talk about the position and started immediately. She originally only planned to volunteer one or two days per week but was soon working full time. “My hours are flexible, on days I can’t come in I telecommute and work from home,” said Carol.
Carol’s initial task was to set up a database of all of the volunteers. Her responsibilities have expanded over the years. When Carol first learns of a need in one of our programs, she will create a volunteer position and post it online. Once a volunteer applies for the position Carol will see if it is a good fit and connect them to the program then help them to keep track of their volunteer hours.
Carol was a major contributor for the handbook for volunteers and keeps it updated. She creates various flyers and brochures for events and is quick to offer Excel or PowerPoint help to others in the office. Carol is equally loved for her cooking; she frequently brings in delicious food for holidays and events.
Carol was Catholic Charities Community Services Volunteer of the Year in 2011 and a finalist for Catholic Charities USA Volunteer of the Year in 2013. “Carol has an indomitable spirit!” says her supervisor, Linda Tailleart, director of volunteer services. “I have worked with exceptional volunteers whose pro bono contributions have provided extraordinary help to Catholic Charities’ many families and clients. Carol is a volunteer extraordinaire – an UBER volunteer. She is an amazing!”
“Retirement doesn’t mean stopping your life. It means doing what is meaningful and purposeful,” said Carol.
You can become a volunteer with Catholic Charities and serve as an individual or as part of a group. You don’t have to commit to as many hours a Carol to make a big and lasting difference.