[July 21, 2020] This issue's Outreach Spotlight shines on 15-year old Victor Young from the Cathedral of St. Andrew. It was an email from Victor that triggered a conversation about Wallyhouse, the Catholic Worker outreach program at St. Elizabeth's in Honolulu. Having recently volunteered there, Victor felt that the word needed to go out about this great ministry and the urgency for volunteers.
I asked Victor if he wouldn't mind sharing his experience volunteering there to hopefully inspire others to do so. At the time, I had no idea he was only 15. It was only when he submitted his article along with a photo that I realized he was so young. His passionate plea for Wallyhouse took on new meaning, and I wondered what motivates someone so young to be a strong voice for others in need.
I have since learned that he is a student at Kamehameha Schools, is multi-talented (plays trombone, ukulele and the organ); swims, likes to read and play video games. He enjoys doing service with his Boy Scout troop, is a Life Scout thinking about possible Eagle projects, and hopes to become a doctor! In some way, the pandemic may be partially responsible for his volunteering at Wallyhouse. With summer trips cancelled and his busy schedule not so busy anymore, he gets to sleep in and has "time to slow down." But one thing is clear; Victor is a special young man with a Christ-centered heart to serve others. Enjoy his article about Wallyhouse and consider volunteering there!
Wallyhouse by Victor Young
The Catholic Workers’ program started in 1933 on the East Coast and expanded to Hawaiʻi with the foundation of the Wallyhouse in 2018 at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church. The Wallyhouse is named after a former Maryknoll priest and chair of the Hawaiʻi Coalition for Creative Housing, Wally Inglis, in recognition of his exceptional support. At Wallyhouse, Franciscan Catholic Workers, David Catron and barbara bennett, serve the homeless by “...nurturing the poor in body, mind and spirit, non-violent resistance of oppression and practicing radical acts of kindness.” (Wallyhouse News, July 8, 2018). Located in a low-income part of town, the Wallyhouse is a highly accessible resource for people in need. This means that the Wallyhouse provides an excellent opportunity for the whole Diocese to carry out God’s work.
I started volunteering at the Wallyhouse this June. I enjoy serving at places where the outcome is tangible and immediate. At the Wallyhouse, I can see people coming for the bags that I packed. Everyone is calm, respectful and appreciative. Unfortunately, there will always be a need, especially if this pandemic keeps going. barbara bennett reports that the Wallyhouse passed out 3,000 bags and helped over 1,000 people in June. Because of COVID19, my own church’s sandwich ministry got shut down, and I am grateful for the chance to feed the homeless through the Wallyhouse ministry. Now, more than ever, the poor and homeless population need our help.
All of the people at the Wallyhouse are very kind. The people in need support each other. For example, on my first day, I saw a woman translate for a man so the man could get his food. The homeless who come for food are always observant of the mask wearing rule and the six-foot distancing guidelines. The other volunteers are also very welcoming. They always ask how we are doing and do the same when someone shows up for food.
We now find ourselves in a time much like the Great Depression, when things were scary and uncertain. At the Wallyhouse, the jobs are easy and understandable because barbara makes sure all expectations are clear. I felt confident in packing the appropriate food in each bag for families or individuals. The system at the Wallyhouse is very efficient because everyone is taught the best way to do things, but could still use help to fill the growing needs in the community.
During this time of COVID19, there is a greater need to feed the homeless. At the Wallyhouse, everyone there has the same goal in mind and is efficiently carrying out their responsibilities. More people will be helped if more people volunteer. The Wallyhouse helps lots of people and needs you to volunteer to make bags and give them out.