Looking to help others during the pandemic?

SCRANTON – A global pandemic will not stop volunteers in the Diocese of Scranton from getting their hands dirty and making a difference in the community.

The Diocesan Office for Parish Life and Vocations Office have partnered this month to launch “Scranton Serves,” a call to action for individuals, families and groups to carry on the work of Christ in their respective communities.

The three-month initiative will last through the end of 2020. It is being held in place of the annual Diocesan Day of Service which is typically held in September.

“For the last three years, the Diocesan Day of Service was a highlight, not just to individual young people, but parish communities and schools,” Shannon Kowalski, Director for Service and Mission, said.

Instead of coordinating large groups of volunteers on the same day, “Scranton Serves” will allow individuals, parish groups and school groups to take part in service projects at varying times that are convenient for them.

“We have reached out to all the agencies and non-profits that we have partnered with in the past,” Dominick Costantino, Vocation Program Coordinator, explained. “Some of them shared with us that they could really use volunteers with the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. So instead of just doing a day, a week or a month, we decided to challenge young people and all those in the 11 counties of the diocese to get out and serve, make a difference for good in the last three months of 2020 and really help our brothers and sisters who are in need.”

Costantino says organizers have been approached by many people who are still looking to give back despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Just because our circumstances have changed and we cannot do what we normally would, that doesn’t mean the need is any less significant for these agencies. In fact, they need us a little bit more, so knowing that we weren’t just going to throw in the towel, but we had to re-charter our course,” Kowalski added.

Volunteer opportunities that are part of “Scranton Serves” are listed on the Diocese of Scranton website (www.dioceseofscranton.org). The non-profits and groups seeking help are listed under one of the four episcopal regions of the diocese.

Some of the first groups that expressed a need for volunteers include Friends of the Poor in Scranton, Ruth’s Place in Wilkes-Barre and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Dunmore.

“We are doing our best to offer a wide arrangement of service sites and they will be located throughout the diocese,” Kowalski said.

“It is going to be an ongoing resource. As agencies let us know their needs, the dates and times they need volunteers, we will have all of that information on the Diocese of Scranton website,” Costantino added. “Even if you don’t have a group or organization, you can go volunteer on your own.”

Organizers say they also understand that some people might not feel comfortable going out to volunteer, so they have also included service projects that can be done at home, including writing cards to homebound parishioners or residents of a local nursing home and sending a surprise meal to a family in need.

Anyone with questions regarding “Scranton Serves” can contact the organizers at either Shannon-Kowalski@dioceseofscranton.org or Dominick-Costantino@dioceseofscranton.org.