Inspirational Volunteers Honored with Caritas! Awards

by Will Espinoza | April 23, 2020

Two extraordinary volunteers have been honored with special awards as part of Catholic Charities’ Caritas! recognition program.

Kathleen McGuan, a volunteer with Immigration Legal Services, is the recipient of the Father John O’Connor Award, and Joe Weiss, a Dorothy Day Place volunteer, was presented with the Msgr. Geno Baroni Award.

The annual Caritas! awards honor inspirational volunteers who embody the mission of Catholic Charities and touch the lives of the people in our care. Honorees are selected from among those nominated by Catholic Charities staff.

The Father John O’Connor Award is given to a group or individual who has shown exemplary leadership and service for the poor and outcast.

Kathleen, the recipient, has been a volunteer attorney with Immigration Legal Services (ILS) for more than 2 ½ years. “Kathleen has demonstrated an understanding of the needs of ILS clients and ILS staff and has helped in every way possible during her time as a volunteer,” said Jennifer Bibby-Gerth, ILS senior managing attorney. “She is also willing to help with any matter that comes up at the last minute.”

The Msgr. Geno Baroni Award is given to an individual who has been a strong advocate for the oppressed through his or her activities in the archdiocesan community.

Joe, the recipient, has volunteered with Dorothy Day Place for more than six years, providing donations for clients’ emergency needs. “Joe uses his own resources and time to provide food and clothing to clients who are in dire need of this support. He responds to these urgent calls without hesitation,” says Henry Stemler, social work manager at Dorothy Day Place. “This has brought significant comfort to clients displaced by homelessness.”

In addition to these two outstanding volunteers, four other volunteers were recognized for their contributions: Marissa McKeever, who volunteers with the Health Care Network; Mary Lu Carnevale from the SHARE Food Network; Ethan Bishop from the Volunteer Engagement Office and HOPE Corps; and Valerie Johnson from the Housing and Homelessness Services Department.

Catholic Charities also acknowledged the longtime service contributions of three volunteers, who, after years of service, are retiring from their roles: Dr. Robert Donahue, Dr. Elvira (Mimi) Bonilla and Ines Campusano.

In past years, a Caritas! event has been held in April, gathering together about 150 volunteers and staff members for a celebration of volunteerism. Because of the health crisis, this year’s event has been postponed. Nevertheless, all the award recipients receive our hearty congratulations and thanks for lending their hands and hearts to the mission of Catholic Charities.