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Catholic Charities Earns Award for Excellence in Volunteerism
By Holly Harmon - Monday Sep 11, 2023
Catholic Charities Community Services, a nonprofit social services organization serving central and northern Arizona, recently was awarded the Service Enterprise Initiative Certification by ASU Lodestar Center, Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (ALIVE) and Points of Light.

The Service Enterprise Initiative is a national program that provides training and certification to nonprofits that are committed to implementing exemplary volunteer management practices to achieve operational efficiency and greater social impact. The certification demonstrates excellence in volunteer engagement, proven return on investment (ROI) in volunteer investment and emphasis on achieving the organization’s mission of “Making miracles happen every day.”

Catholic Charities, currently celebrating its 90th year of service, has been serving Arizonans since 1933 and provides more than 20 programs to strengthen children and families, serve and shelter neighbors, welcome refugees and immigrants, and collaborate with the community. Last year, the organization assisted more than 18,000 individuals on the path to permanent improvement in their lives.

With this achievement, ASU Lodestar Center enables organizations to better unlock the power of their volunteers. Certified Service Enterprises, on average, increase volunteerism annually by 23 percent, representing approximately $63,000 in valued labor. In 2022, Catholic Charities engaged 3,273 volunteers for 47,592 hours of labor valued at $1.4 million.

“Becoming recertified as a Service Enterprise Agency has affirmed that our agency is committed to integrating volunteers in meaningful and strategic ways and has continued to implement the structure put in place since the original certification in 2016,” said Catholic Charities Volunteer Services Manager, Shannon Hill.

Some of the improvements made to obtain the recertification include an updated volunteer orientation and training system, as well as enhanced materials and guidance to better prepare volunteer supervisors to strategically engage volunteers.

“It is clear Catholic Charities Community Services has remained committed to both integrating volunteers in meaningful and strategic ways and creating a welcoming and supportive experience for the volunteers themselves,” said ALIVE’s reviewer Tracy Lato-Smith. “The comment in their application, ‘We strive to be known and respected for excellence in volunteerism by valuing and recognizing volunteers as partners at all levels,’ provides a clear reflection of the goals of this initiative. AL!VE honors and appreciates the organization’s continued commitment to the Service Enterprise Initiative standards of excellence.”

Catholic Charities volunteers must undergo a thorough background check as well, and in some volunteer positions, obtain a fingerprint clearance card prior to service. The organization serves the most vulnerable, including foster children and families, the homeless, victims of domestic violence, veterans and more. Volunteer opportunities are wide-ranging from corporate and group volunteer activities to individual contributions of putting together hygiene kits.

“Catholic Charities Community Service’s volunteers truly make a valuable contribution to the community,” said Malissa Larson, Senior Director of Volunteer, Community and Parish Engagement at Catholic Charities. “Without them, our work would not be able to reach seven counties in Arizona. They stayed with us throughout the pandemic, and now, their reach has allowed us to achieve even more. We look forward to increasing our engagement with our volunteers and showing them how valuable they are.”