Volunteers prove invaluable at Catholic Charities Fort Worth
Catholic Charities Fort Worth employs more than 275 paid staff, but the nonprofit also depends on volunteers to accomplish its mission of ending poverty in North Texas, one family at a time. Currently, 130 volunteers support nine CCFW programs.
CCFW Volunteer Specialist Kelly Smith said many volunteer opportunities are now virtual due to the pandemic, including the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Community Care Call Center, and Refugee Services English Literacy Tutoring for Children.
Sam Moon, a parishioner of St. John the Apostle in North Richland Hills, is in his 10th year as a VITA volunteer. He is not a CPA or an accountant, but he does have a head for math and likes doing taxes. Experience is not necessary for VITA volunteers because they complete online training required by the Internal Revenue Service to become certified tax preparers. Smith said training and certification are free to volunteers through United Way of Tarrant County which is a VITA partner with CCFW.
The maximum income for VITA eligibility is $60,000, but Moon said, “A lot of our clients have incomes of only $20,000 or $30,000 a year.
“You can make a difference in people’s lives,” he added. “We save them a few hundred dollars and they know [their taxes] are done correctly. It makes me feel humble that these people totally put their faith in us.”
The Community Care Call Center needs volunteers who can patiently listen to client concerns and refer them either internally to a CCFW contact or to a community resource, Smith said. Though some volunteers answer calls at CCFW’s Arlington and Colleyville campuses, many take phone requests from their homes.
“A Community Care volunteer needs to be a people person,” Smith said. “People call us who are in need and many times it’s their first introduction to CCFW.”
Volunteers support the call center’s small paid staff to reduce the call-wait time for people seeking help. Clients often report that they called other agencies for help and never actually spoke with someone, but “somebody at CCFW is going to answer your call and talk with you,” she noted.
Another virtual volunteer opportunity helps refugee children in grades K-12 learn English. Smith said volunteer tutors read to children and guide them through simple lessons. Tutors do not need teaching experience but should enjoy working with children. In addition to training, tutors can ask for guidance from the CCFW staff member hosting each Zoom tutoring session.
Smith said potential volunteers can email [email protected] or call 817-289-3871 for information. All volunteers complete an application, free background check, and orientation on CCFW’s mission, values, and volunteer opportunities.