Back in November, the Development staff sat around a conference table, going over the logistics of holiday volunteering and in-kind giving.  Clara, our Community Engagement Manager, had been overseeing the collection of food for families so they could make Thanksgiving dinner.  She announced she had a confession.

A man had called her earlier in the week.   “He told me he’d like to donate stock,” Clara said.  “And my immediate response was, ‘Chicken or beef?’”

Everyone at the table started laughing.  They knew the man was asking to give from his stock portfolio to Catholic Social Services – something Clara had also realized on the phone that day when he had started laughing too. Would you like to make a gift of stock or securities?

“You guys,” she moaned, “I was sooooo embarrassed!”

Now, Clara’s laughing made the Development staff laugh harder because her laugh is infectious.  If you’ve spent any time around Catholic Social Services in any capacity, you probably already know her laugh is infectious, which means you also know that a smile on Clara’s face brings one to yours too.

“Clara brightens any room she’s in,” Melissa, our Annual Giving Manger, says.  She’d know too.  Melissa’s worked closely with Clara over the years.  “When you need an extra surge of happiness, all you have to do is visit Clara’s rainbow-filled office and chat with her for a few minutes.”

She has been the Community Engagement Manager for about a year, but Clara’s worked at Catholic Social Services even longer.  She started off originally in Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services as their Volunteer Coordinator.  She had just graduated from college and was looking for jobs outside of her home state of Michigan.

“I applied for AmeriCorps and had a list of like 15 places I would go,” she says.  “I put down Alaska, but I was hoping for it as a last resort – and you can put that in there!”  She laughs, pulling a sticker from a sheet and applying it to a thank-you card she was creating for coworkers.

Maybe you’re wondering why Clara was writing coworkers’ notes.  She is giving them out as going-away messages since today is her last day with Catholic Social Services.  That’s just how Clara is – always thinking of others.  And that’s just one of the many reasons she’ll be missed here.

In the past year, Clara, serving as our Community Engagement Manager, has made such a difference in the lives of those connected with Catholic Social Services – be it staff, volunteers, or coworkers.

“I think that this position is one of the coolest at CSS,” Clara says, finishing up her cards, “and I don’t just say that because I’m in it.  I get to be part of every program.”

People work with the Community Engagement Manager to recruit and train volunteers, solicit and distribute in-kind donations, and field just about every call imaginable because that position’s contact information is plastered everywhere.

Clara nods. “Yeeeaah, it’s cool,” she says, her bright eyes sparkling.  “There is something every day that is humbling and inspiring…even if it starts with an accidental phone call.”  She pauses.  “I’m really gonna miss this place, you know?”

Since submitting her resignation, Clara has insisted on staying on until she could train a new Community Engagement Manager.  Now we’re happy to welcome to the team – and introduce to you as well – Alicia Jacobs!  She’s an asset who is ready to go, thanks to Clara’s sharing her knowledge.

So please join us all in thanking Clara for all she’s done and wishing her the best as she begins the next adventure in her life!

Volunteer today!

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