Our volunteers always say “yes” to those in need of a helping hand. During this National Volunteer Month, we are proud to honor a group of individuals through the annual Caritas! Volunteer Recognition program, which recognize extraordinary volunteers who embody the mission of Catholic Charities.
“Volunteers make a difference in the lives of people accessing Catholic Charities services by being a friend – a kind person who restores their sense of dignity and belonging to the community,” says Maggie O’Neill, director of Catholic Charities’ Volunteer Engagement Office. “The Caritas! honorees are standouts among the thousands of people who volunteer with Catholic Charities because they are especially dedicated to serving, they are proactive with our staff and people accessing our services and they recognize that in giving of themselves they are enriched.”
More than 5,000 volunteers contributed more than 74,000 hours last year to empower and help those less fortunate. The Caritas! honorees, representing all those who selflessly volunteer with us, are nominated by Catholic Charities staff.
This year, the honorees were recognized at the 2022 Catholic Charities DC Gala – Hope Springs Eternal on April 9 at the Marriott Marquis.
“We are pleased tonight to recognize the recipients of the 2022 Caritas honors,” said Kevin Virostek, Catholic Charities Board of Director chair. “Each of these extraordinary volunteers has given hundreds of hours of their time and given of themselves to forge relationships with people accessing the services of Catholic Charities.” Board Member William (Billy) Kappaz greeted the honorees at the gala and thanked them on behalf of the board.
This year’s extraordinary honorees are:
Dr. Thomas P. Winkler, who received the Msgr. Geno Baroni Award for Advocacy. Dr. Winkler has been an outstanding volunteer and advocate for helping those less fortunate. As an otolaryngologist specializing in the ears, throat and nose, Dr. Thomas performed more than five surgeries and 68 consultations, estimated at over $300,000 in pro bono services.
The McMurtrie Family, who received the Father John O’ Connor Award for Empowerment. Since 1994, the McMurtrie family has been a proud supporter of Catholic Charities DC. In 2012, the family provided the necessary funding to launch the Maria’s Meals program, which provides nutritious meals to individuals experiencing food insecurity. Members of the family are regular volunteers at the weekly distributions, where they not only serve meals but share stories and words of encouragement.
Sister Bernadette Longtin, who was nominated for the Catholic Charities USA Volunteer of the Year Award. For the past five years, Sister Longtin has been instrumental in helping youth and their families as they are being discharged from psychiatric care.
Bruce Baschuk, who received the Development Disabilities Services Volunteer of the Year Award. Baschuk was an important volunteer, who supported the department by helping schedule staff’s COVID-19 vaccinations. He recruited other individuals to assist in the effort: Bruce Pascal, Tom McHugh, Adam Singer, Margaret Crowley and Timmy Conley.
Isolda Riveralainez, who received the Newcomer Network Volunteer of the Year Award. Since March 2004, Riveralainez has been an excellent volunteer and has assisted Immigration Legal Services two days a week by providing administrative services.
Sister Mary Doyle, who received the Enterprise, Education and Employment Volunteer of the Year. Sister Doyle goes above and beyond for her clients. As an example, she helped secure emergency funds to cover funeral costs for a client who recently lost her child to an illness.
Marla Smith, who received the Family, Parish and Community Outreach Volunteer of the Year Award. As a devoted mother and grandmother, Smith’s schedule is hectic, but she always finds time to mentor others. As a mentor for the Welcome Home Reentry Program, she mentored two returning citizens before and during the pandemic. Both individuals are now fully employed.